We asked actor Alex Wu seven questions about Ching Chong Chinaman and acting. Here's what he had to say.
Tell us about your A-Squared beginnings. When and how did you get involved with the company? AW: I first started with A-squared’s first My Asian Mom production in 2012.
Describe your character in 3 words or less. AW: Intimidated, overwhelmed, prideful.
What is your favorite characteristic of Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman? AW: I think my favorite characteristic of the show is the fact that Lauren Yee was extremely adamant about the fact that there shouldn’t be a “Chinese” accent for any of the characters. As someone who is very aware of what the Western mentality is concerning this minute characteristic of transplanted Asians, I feel that the removal of it gives the script gravitas and allows the audience to connect with everyone on stage and not discredit the character.
How have you been preparing for your role? Books, movies, shows, research? And tell us about your learning and preparation process as an actor. AW: My preparation for this role consists mainly of one thing, my parents. They were the epitome, at least in my life, of a struggling family that emigrated from the east. They left with four kids, a couple of carry-ons, and very little knowledge of the English language. So, for me to watch them as I was growing up, helps a lot when it comes to my character.
Does your role draw any parallels to your own life? Would you be friends with your character? AW: There are a few parallels that I have seen in my life that follow the path of my character, but there is a caveat and a little backstory. When I was younger, my parents would help out their friends by offering our home as a place for their kids to go after school, where they could do their homework, eat, and play. There was one family, whose parents worked with my mother that sent for their children in China. My parents offered to help by taking in the youngest of their children while they were at work. I will not divulge his personal information in this story but coincidentally his name ended up being Jay, he was a year younger than I was. He knew no English, and neither of us spoke the same dialect of Chinese which made making any connections with each other very difficult. Now that I look back on the way we interacted with each other (we ended up becoming friends because both of us attempted to learn the others’ language), I realize how close minded a lot of Western Culture was at the time.
Most memorable rehearsal moment to date? AW: Every moment ;)
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an actor? What advice would you give to aspiring actors? AW: Everything you do onstage tells a story.
Alex's Bio Alex is extremely excited about being in another A-Squared production. He recently took the role of one of the many amazing directors for the third installment of A-Squared’s My Asian Mom 2014, along with being one of the original cast members in the first installment of My Asian Mom. He is a founding member of the Inappropriate Theatre Company, and was recently in Adventures with Aladdin, a production with the Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was also part of the enormous ensemble in the production of Sita Ram with the Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Chicago Children's Choir. He is also a cofounding member of the Rocky Mountain Conservatory Theatre where he takes on the role of assistant artistic director and production manager along with lighting and scene design. He is also part of the music production company Candeed Beats and is excited for the release of their new album Nickel Bag.