Grow with iStage | Being an actor gives you the privilege to think about things

November 8th, 2019

Q: We know that you’ve been learning lots of activities such as violin and ballet. Is there anything else you’ve learned before as well? After all these experiences, how did you find out that you’re interested in musical theatre?

A: When I was younger, I wanted to be a professional dancer, but I realised later that it wasn’t really what I wanted. Overtime, I developed an interest in drama, but my mum signed me up for musical theatre instead. I had such a great time, getting to do all three disciplines (singing, acting, and dancing) in one class, and I was immediately hooked. I was so excited for each class that I would anticipatedly count down the days till the weekend. I still learn ballet and violin, but musical theatre is my priority.

Q: How long have you been living in Shanghai and have you taken musical theatre courses overseas before? How is it different compared with Shanghai?

A: I’ve lived in Shanghai for four years now. Before I moved to Shanghai, I never took any musical theatre classes.

Q: Your first visit to iStage was on an open day in September 2017. Over the past two years with iStage, how have you improved yourself professionally?

A: I feel iStage has really taught me how to think professionally. In other musical theatre environments, I realised everything usually isn’t taken as seriously by the students and many don’t have a very strong stamina. I’m very glad that my musical theatre foundation started with iStage and I’m sure it would not have been quite the same if I had gone somewhere else instead.

Q: You spend three intensive hours a week practicing with select group in addition to your high school work load; how do you manage your time?

A: I guess it’s just a combination of prioritizing my time and self-motivation. Everyone always complains about how much work they have to do, but I believe anyone can complete anything if they have the right mind set. I actually quite like being busy and having many classes to get to because it keeps me on my toes and teaches me to be responsible even when things get tough. The fact that I really enjoy what I’m doing helps as well because I view my work as a learning process instead of toil.

Q: You’ve been to Broadway and West End before and you can also watch these shows in Shanghai now, how do you think the difference between them?

A: Although more musicals are starting to tour in Shanghai, it is not the same as going to Broadway or West End. In Broadway and West End, I get to see the original cast and other shows that are new. Additionally, international touring productions don’t usually come straight from Broadway/West End; they normally bring the cast from other countries. Having said all that, I do think it’s really great that I am able to see musicals here in Shanghai too, but there’s just this really magical feeling about Broadway and West End that you can’t get anywhere else.

Q: Tell us more about your favorite shows and actors and why?

A: This is such a difficult question! I love so many musicals, but I think the ones that will always have a special place in my heart are Mean Girls, Dear Evan Hansen, Six, and Come From Away. I look up to many musical theatre performers, but Barrett Wilbert Weed remains my all-time favourite actress. I love her voice and many of her past (and present) theatre credits. She portrayed Veronica in the original Off-Broadway Heathers and is now in Mean Girlson Broadway as Janis.

Q: You’ve played many roles now, who’s your favorite role and why? Who’s the most challenging roleand did you conquer the challenge?

A: I would have to say Doria Hudson in Smile. Playing Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderlandwas a really fun experience, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting as anything we did in Smile. Smile was the select group’s first full-length musical and Ms. Karina really pushed all of us to perform to our highest-ability. Taking on the role of Doria challenged me in singing and acting. I’m not like Doria in real life, so I was glad to play a character that would get me to step out of my comfort zone. Smile was one of the harder musicals we’ve presented, but we wouldn’t have done it without everyone’s hard work and guidance from our teachers.

Q: When you first receive the script for a show, how do you get yourself into character?

A: Before I receive my script, I would familiarize myself with the show’s songs and characters. When memorising lines, I make sure to understand why the character is saying a certain line and their thoughts. Last year for Smile, Ms. Karina set us a task to create a mood board for our character. We included descriptions of their personality, their likes and dislikes, and pictures of what we thought they would look like.

Q: You’re now in high school, do you have a favorite college and major? Any plan for your future? Do you consider musical theatre as major?

A: This question got me thinking way too much, but for now I will tell you that I do aspire to be a musical theatre actress, so yes, I am considering studying musical theatre in college. Although I spend a lot of time pondering my future, I don’t believe college is the end point; it is just another stepping stone in my journey. For now, I’ve still got a couple more years to ruminate over this, so I’ll just focus on learning as much as I can now.

Q: For musical actors, “experience” and “observation” are importantin terms of creating characters, thus most actors are very sensitive. “sensitivity” can help actors observe more from daily life and blend into acting. Do you think you’re sensitive?

A: I think learning acting has helped me to be more “sensitive” to my surroundings and other people. It has enabled me to put myself in other people’s shoes and think from their point of view. Becoming another character requires one to dig deep into imagination and their life experiences. Likewise, being an actor gives you the privilege to think about things you’ve never thought about before or do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Q: Thanks again for doing this with us. One last question, do you like iStage? Anything you want to say to iStage?

A: Of course! In a way, iStage is like my second home. I love how everyone is so welcoming and friendly, and we get to share our love for the performing arts together. I’m very grateful to iStage for all the performing opportunities and relationships I’ve formed with other theatre kids!