How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting on and off for the past 25 years. I took my first drama class in high-school, took a few theatre classes in college and joined an Asian-American sketch comedy group a few years after graduating from college. I was involved in that for 2 years and branched off to community theatre and eventually on-camera work such as commercials, industrials, short films and feature films. I’ve also done some voice-over work.
Who do you look up to as an actor/actress?
There isn’t anyone I particularly look up to, but actors whose work I enjoy and find interesting include Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Josh Brolin, Michelle Pfeiffer and Rebecca Ferguson.
What attracted you to begin a career in acting?
As a kid, I was quite shy and didn’t enjoy being called on in class or being the center of attention anywhere. Acting allows me to essentially become a different person, so the self-consciousness and inhibitions I may have personally no longer apply. It’s quite freeing and at times, cathartic. As I grew more comfortable in my skin and gained more confidence, I became drawn to the story-telling aspect of acting. I started acting as a hobby and as I kept with it, the Lord brought more opportunities my way. After I was laid off from my corporate job in 2013, I focused on making acting my main profession.
What is/was the best and worst advice you have received as an actor?
Best advice: Listen to your gut and don’t compromise your values. The industry is littered with traps and temptations and if you just go along with everything in the hope of finding success, you will get swept away to a place in your life and career that you will regret. You have to be smart and discerning because most people are looking at how you can best serve their interests rather than having your interests in mind.
Worst advice: Just wing it. As an actor, it’s great to be spontaneous and to be comfortable with improvising, but you should first be well-prepared, having memorized your lines and done your character work. Once you have that down, you have freedom to play around and still have your choices make sense, versus just doing something random on-camera.
Have you ever played a role that deeply affected or even changed you personally?
I had the opportunity to play a businessman with mental illness as part of a video series to help train librarians on how to interact with that segment of the population. During the audition and callback, the director worked gently with me to delve further into the character to the point of his mental “break” and we found the moment where it felt more authentic and became a point of compassion, which was important. I was cast in the role and on the day I arrived on set, it was discovered that everyone involved from cast to crew were all Christians! It was pretty cool to open up the day in prayer and realize that God truly brought us all together for that project.
What if anything drew you to the Unfortunate Dating Diaries project?
Through his own research, Lance discovered that I am an actor and reached out to me via my roommate, Aaron Groben, who was already involved in the project. I accepted because it seemed like a fun, light-hearted project and I was excited because it was a Christian production. I always enjoy merging my acting ability with meaningful projects.
Do you relate in any way to the character you play? Or any of the other characters of UDD? If so, how?
I play “Eric” in UDD. He’s definitely more of a geek than I am in real life, but I certainly brought my own qualities in my portrayal of him. I was a smart and studious kid growing up. I was an introvert who loved reading, but I had a lot of friends and was very comfortable around girls since I grew up with four cousins who lived down the hill who were like sisters to me. Eric may have a hard time connecting with the ladies, but he’s smart and has a good heart. He’s a person with depth, and I tried to bring out those qualities.
What was your favorite part of being on set for this project?
All of it! I loved traveling to Kansas, as it’s always nice to see another part of the country/world and take a break from L.A. Lance and Renee and their family were incredibly gracious and accommodating and took care of our every need. Additionally, my cast-mates are incredible people who were a blast to be around and work with.
Have you been encouraged by this project? If so, how or in what way?
I’m encouraged in that I met many wonderful Christian artists and filmmakers and it’s great to stay in touch and hear about what God is doing in each of their lives. It’s exciting to feel connected to a larger Christian community who are working to use their gifts and bring the love of Jesus to our industry.
The writers and filmmakers have a desire to encourage Christian singles. Do you have any advice for singles?…Just kidding I think they get enough of that. So, do you have any encouragement for Christian singles that you would like to share?
I’m divorced, which I never thought would be a part of my story, but it is. I understand the challenges and frustrations of wanting so much to be married, and now I also know the feeling of heartbreak and disappointment and the healing process to get to the place of being content and even joyful with being single again. My encouragement for Christian singles is to keep your relationship with Jesus as #1 and to keep working on yourself and developing yourself so that there are less challenges that you and your future spouse have to work through. We all have hurts and insecurities and unhealthy ways of coping and interacting. Healthy relationships only work if you deeply know yourself and create the space and trust for the other person to feel known as well. The moments when we inevitably fail, we need to have the humility and the maturity to own up to our limitations and be quick to reconcile. Relationships are tough, so be gentle with others and with yourself.
Do you feel the local church supports Christian singles?
I feel like they try, and some are obviously more effective than others. It’s a challenging ministry to do well, but I do think it’s important for the local church to have a singles ministry and to at least create the space for healthy relationships to form. Good leadership is key.
Does Christian dating seem confusing or troublesome for you?
I’d call Christian dating challenging rather than confusing or troublesome. You want to find someone who has their priorities aligned with yours and is genuine and growing in their faith and someone that you’re physically attracted to. That combination can be hard to find.
What is your favorite Bible passage?
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. (NIV)
It encourages me to be reminded that my life, my plans, my future are all in God’s Hands. If I stay close with Him and listen and submit to His ways, He will lead me to my best possible future.
As an actor/actress I’m sure social media is a very important part of promoting yourself: have you personally experienced a lot of unwanted comments or harassment of any kind because of these social media platforms?
Social media is a very important tool and resource for an actor, but you do get some strange requests at times, particularly offers of a romantic or sexual nature. I turn those invitations down, but might still meet in person to just connect and chat. I understand how lonely it can be in L.A., and especially since the pandemic lockdown, so I try not to shun anybody that wants to spend some time with me. Granted, that’s just me as a person and as a guy. Women get the brunt of unwelcome advances and comments and I wouldn’t recommend them to meet up with anyone they’re not interested in. You need to be discerning and safe, as there are plenty of people who will take advantage of you. I also occasionally get questions from strangers inquiring about how to get into acting. Those I don’t mind, and I try to be helpful in my advice.
Henry, why do you feel God moved you to Hollywood? What has God been teaching you?
Moving to Hollywood in 2013 was a step of faith. Being a middle-aged Asian American actor, I am a “type” that is not in high-demand in the industry. Acting is also an unreliable source of income. It really doesn’t make sense for me to choose this career at this stage in my life, but there’s something to be said about following your passion and having a go at it rather than letting life go by and wondering “what if?” or having regrets. Also, the fact that the odds are stacked against me further show that any successes I have are because of God. I’ve already done more than I imagined when I first started out in acting, so it really is just going along with the ride that the Lord has me on! I’m still finding out why God moved me to Hollywood. Acting was the impetus, but I’ve always felt like He has a bigger picture. I certainly felt like He would have blessed me either way if I had chosen to stay in Seattle, but He made it clear that 2013 was the year to move down if I wanted to, as He cleared away every obstacle that I had. He’s been teaching me to be resilient and to keep relying on Him, to walk in confidence and to be kind.
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