I think it’s crazy that I even have fans! I’m just this shy asshole from Costa Rica who doesn’t know much about anything and now people are interested in what I have to say.
In celebration of our Fansite’s 1-year-anniversary, we’re bringing to you our EXCLUSIVE interview with the one and only (and the person this site is all about)- Harry Shum Jr.!
From the early stages of his career in the Step Up movies to hit series such as Fox‘s Glee and Freeform‘s Shadowhunters, Harry Shum Jr. stole our hearts from the first second he showed up on screen.
As the dancy High School Student Mike Chang or the Warrior Wei Fang in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny to a complete transformation turning into the magical High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane..
We fell in love with them all, and the person behind all of these characters just made us fall deeper as he (Harry Shum Jr.) showed us his enormous care for each character he plays, his kindness and love towards his fans, the beauty in every dance move he makes and his big BIG heart.
As such big fans of him, it’s a pleasure to have gotten the chance to interview him. We asked him questions about his career that we were interested to know more about, and he gave us the perfect answers.
- We’d like to start the interview asking, how are you doing?
HSJ: I just consumed a large ca phe su da so I am WIRED.
- We know you’re currently working on the second half of season 2 of ‘Shadowhunters‘.
How has filming been? How’s it like working with the cast?
HSJ: Just wrapped the season and its a lot heavier in terms of subject matter compared to 2A. All the characters deal with some sort inner turmoil that they must confront and overcome. I think the fans will enjoy the journey. The cast is really great to work with. They all individually bring a different energy that allows the show to be unique and offer something that no other show does. It’s been fun to see the growth in not only the characters but the actors as well.
- Do you feel more connected to your character, Magnus, now that you’ve been playing him for 2 years?
And what is your favorite thing about him?
HSJ: Without getting too much into “actor talk” I have enjoyed and learned a lot over the span of two seasons getting to know Magnus. He has taught me that no matter how much you know or been alive for, you’re still a work in progress. I think in season one, we were introduced to a jaded and hardened Magnus. He was set in his ways and not much could change his mind. Season two, we find him opening his heart and mind to a once unthinkable relationship (Alec). It has given him a new perspective and insight to the world he was already so familiar with. I do love his sass which the writers have been bringing back. It’s been great to see a vulnerable side of him but his defense mechanism of making a joke out of dire situations was always fun to play.
- How do you feel about the impact that Malec have had on the LGBTQ+ community? And did you ever expect the show and the Malec storyline to become so popular?
HSJ: I think it’s incredible that the Magnus and Alec relationship has made an impact on not only the community but also outside of it. I usually root for the underdog story and to me this is one of them. The LGBTQ+ communities support has been amazing and what makes all the hard work worth it is hearing all the fan stories on how affected they are by these two characters.
- Obviously, you were on ‘Glee’ for 6 years. Do you sometimes miss Mike Chang? What are some of your favorite memories from set?
HSJ: Those 6 years were very special to me and I contribute a lot of my growth as an artist during that time. I have Mike Chang locked up in my basement so I see him occasionally on a full moon. He’s doing well, I think. My favorite memories on set were the breaks in between scenes. We would constantly try and entertain each other on a daily basis.
- You happened to also be in the opening show of the Glee tour with the LXD! Would you go back to working on the LXD series if you had the chance?
HSJ: In a heartbeat.
- Last year your film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’ premiered. How was it like working on a movie you’ve already been a big fan of? And how was it like working with big talents such as Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh?
HSJ: I grew up watching Donnie and Michelle in HK movies and it was a bit surreal working with them. Their stories and advice on Eastern filmmaking and techniques for on camera fight sequences was invaluable. Yuen Woo Ping is a legend that has shaped the way martial arts has been captured on film. Also, it was a bit intimidating working with a 70 year young man that can kick my ass with one swift kick. I had the best time learning from him. I will carry that experience with me through the rest of my career.
- Last year, you worked on ‘Single By 30’ with WongFu Productions. The show was so fun to watch and we’re sad it won’t come back for a second season. It ended on a bittersweet note, that left us all wondering what is going to happen with Peter and Joanna. Do you have any theories on how their story continues?
HSJ: I think that Peter and Joanna still had a lot of growing to do together and individually. I would call them late bloomers that needed life to kick them in the ass a little more. Is it for their own good or for our viewing pleasure? I think both.
- This series was especially great for showcasing two Asian leads in a modern romantic comedy. How do you feel about the development of the Asian Community in the industry today, and what do you think Hollywood especially needs to change when it comes to Asian representation on TV and Film?
HSJ: Stories that come from real experiences from Asian-American writers/directors/actors. If that doesn’t happen then it’ll just continue to go down the road of what one thinks it should look like from a perspective of an outsider that will never equate to true empathy and full understanding of those experiences. That’s not to say that only Asian-Americans can tell those stories but we do need to strike a balance and it’s been lopsided since the birth of Hollywood. It’s not only tiring to see the same stereotypes but incredibly boring. The natural progression as the world becomes more connected is the need for more authentic stories told by an authentic voice in front AND behind the camera. It’s been encouraging to see how vocal audiences around the world have been over problematic castings and having some kind of impact on casting choices in the future. I have seen a spike in representation on tv and film but it’s just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.
- You’re coming from an immigrant family, your parents are from China but you were born in Costa Rica. How does it feel to be in such a culturally diverse family?
HSJ: I thank my parents all the time for exposing me to cultures that are nothing like my reflection. I was late to being exposed to the American culture and was in a constant culture shock for a good part of my adolescence. That shock was great because it taught me to realize that there is good and bad to every culture and not to put a label on a community by an individuals actions or beliefs.
- You’ve been a dancer for years! A part from being in the popular dance movies ‘Step Up’, you were a backup dancer for Beyoncé, Maria Carey and more. Can we expect to see any more dancing from you in the future?
HSJ: I’ll be dancing in my bathroom in a few hours while brushing my teeth.
- We know you recently talked about finishing your first script! Will we hear more about this? And are you planning to write more in the future or even try to direct?
HSJ: Writing is hard like all things that you’re new to. I have many stories I want to tell and I hope that I can share with the world in the near future.
- You’ve been married for awhile now to a talented, lovely lady, Shelby. How’s it like to be a married man?
HSJ: One of the best decisions that I have ever made.
- As you know, we are big fans of you. Do you have any celebrity that you look up to and that has influenced you in some kind of way?
HSJ: I have several for different reasons. JGL for his ability to jump into any medium and perform at a high caliber without compromising who he is. Matt Damon for his sustainability in this very weird weird business. The Rock for being a larger than life movie star with a heart of gold.
- Do you have any crazy fan story you can tell us?
HSJ: I think it’s crazy that I even have fans! I’m just this shy asshole from Costa Rica who doesn’t know much about anything and now people are interested in what I have to say. I’m very thankful to all the fans all around the world for accepting me into their lives. Here’s to more crazy adventures!
Thank you for reading and we hope you liked the interview! Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on our social media accounts!
Best known for his role as Mike Chang on the Fox comedy-drama television series, Glee, and Magnus Bane on Freeform fantasy show, Shadowhunters, the momentum Harry Shum Jr. has created for his performing career continues as being one prolific artist himself. Harry, whose parent are originally from Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China respectively, is an American actor, dancer, singer and choreographer. He made his appearance in many productions such as Stomp the Yard, You Got Served, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Last year, he won “TV Breakout Stars – Male” in TV Scoop Awards, and was nominated “Ship of the year” in the MTV Fandom Awards. Following the heat of Shadowhunters, we invited Harry to share about his past roles, ongoing projects, and thoughts on current film industry.
What is your favorite character that you have played? And why?
I love them all! But currently, I think Magnus has been really fun to portray. It’s because there are no limits of him. It is a character you can do so much things with.
What do you think about your former role, Mike Chang, in Glee?
He is a kid who love dancing. In a lot of ways, I hold him a special place in my heart, because he is like how I grow up. I was very quiet, shy, and usually don’t say very much but I love dance, like Mike Chang. By dancing, my personality started to open up.
You have played a lot of different characters, is there any specific character you would want to try in the future?
I cannot really answer that question. It is because coming up to this point in my life, you know when you were a kid, someone may want to be an action star, or an action hero. For me, there is no definite like, “oh, this would be an ultimate thing.” To me, I feel like I am in the way playing a role, it’s just not a typical what people see as a bad man or superman. So, maybe that will be in the future? We will see what happens.
You did a good job at playing the action Hero Wei-Fang at the Chinese film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, what do you think about that character?
I think it is an interesting movie that is different from what it used to be. It’s like a one dimensional superhero character that fights crime, right? Wei-Fang is a warrior that lost in no direction, he has the extraordinary ability, but doesn’t know how to use it properly. It was a great experience for me to work with those professional action stars.
What other projects you have been working on except Shadowhunters?
Right now I have a series out called Single by 30. It’s on YouTube. I have a great fun doing that, it’s a romantic comedy with Kina Grannis, and I am working with a great team. The story has an Asian American content, and I am playing a role with very unique characteristics.
Talking about Asian American content, have you experienced any special challenges in the film industry as an Asian American actor?
I am not speaking for other Asian Americans. But for me, I think as long as I tried, and overcome these obstacles that everyone goes through might be different, but I just want to figure out that how I can always be better? And I just doubt at many usually problem like: how to get a role? how to break through the stereotypes? I want to help other Asian Americans to see that, it is possible to be successful in the film industry.