We have recently gotten to know Victoria M. Ng, and we think you should, too. So we asked her seven questions about the play, her role, and her approach to acting. Here's what she had to say.
Tell us about your A-Squared beginnings. When and how did you get involved with the company? I first got involved with A-Squared through this year's My Asian Mom as SHE in Tea and Talk and Okay. I learned about the opportunity through a friend who was already on the Bubble Tea email list. He forwarded me the audition notice and suggested I give it a shot! At first, I was apprehensive about contacting the group because I didn't have any experience in theatre. But my gut told me to take a leap and so I did it! Let's just say I'm more than glad I tried.
Describe your character in 3 words or less. Searching for herself.
What is your favorite characteristic of Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman? I love how her story discusses the "model minority myth" by flipping it on its head! Most Asian American characters in mainstream media fit a few stereotypical roles: nerd/geek, FOB, Kpop, Chinadoll, etc. While these give Asian Americans an entry into the media, they're also very limiting. Lauren Yee has these characters, but completely flips around how they normally fit into familial and societal norms. She makes the characters question why they do what they do and how they portray themselves and their family to the world. She gives the characters an agency that some of them come to realize by the end. Yee makes us question: do others fit us into molds or do we have the agency to define ourselves?
How have you been preparing for your role? Books, movies, shows, research. And tell us about your learning and preparation process as an actor. I've been researching the different ways the media portrays young Asian American women on TV, film and in books. I've been reflecting on my experience growing up in a multi-cultural community as an Asian American woman. I don't want to disclose too much because the character will do that for me: Desdemona and I learn and grow together. :)
Does your role draw any parallels to your own life? Would you be friends with your character? Absolutely—to both questions. I've struggled with my identity as an Asian woman. When I was younger, I never realized that I was any different than my friends of other ethnicities. It wasn't until my teens did I realize people started labeling me. They would call me "that cute Asian girl," ask me how to pronounce my last name, request I introduce them to Chinese food, etc. Most interestingly, they would assume I excelled in all my endeavors simply because I'm Asian. I felt I had to live up to that standard and from then on I tried even harder to be better and to be the best.
It wasn't until I started college did I start questioning others and myself. I'd start asking them why they'd ask me where I was born. I started asking why did they think I was smart. Most of them didn't have a clear cut answer and felt a little embarrassed that they even asked. They and I realized that these questions were second nature. And, most importantly, the way I reacted to them—by trying to live up these standards—was second nature. I realized that I was trying so hard for others, not for myself. After that, I continued to try my best. But the reason was because I wanted to be the best me for myself. I stopped trying to please others and stopped trying to fit the mold society had for me as an Asian female. I took agency of my life!
Desdemona goes through a similar identity crisis. She strives to reach her ultimate goal of getting into Princeton. But why? What path does she take along the way? I decided that instead of disliking her for her self-centered nature- my initial reaction- I should get to know her as a whole person. Understand her past, understand why she is who she is. I concluded that only when we realize others and ourselves as a whole person, and not the bits and pieces of our identity added together, do we realize our agency and break free.
Most memorable rehearsal moment to date? Every rehearsal!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an actor? What advice would you give to aspiring actors? Serve the story! That's the best advice I've received and that's the advice I'd give aspiring actors. I believe there's nothing more important than serving the story. I think the best acting comes from having the story as a basis for everything else. When you have the story in mind, you mold your thoughts and your character to fit the story, to tell the story genuinely and fully.
Victoria's Bio Victoria is honored to play Desdemona and greatly appreciates A-Squared for this opportunity. Victoria got her start in the entertainment industry with Chicago PD as an extra, casting assistant and production assistant. Soon after, she was cast as "She" in Tea and Talk and Okay in A-Squared's annual My Asian Mom showcase. Aside from A-Squared's productions, she was cast as "Goldie" in the independent film Goldie which was filmed this July. In addition to acting, Victoria blogs on Chinatown, models, sings and plays table tennis. She's currently a DePaul University Leadership and Policy Studies master's student concentrating in Education Policy and she hopes to one day make a difference in the education field in Chicago. Victoria dedicates this performance to everyone who supported her along the way, especially her mom.