Kollaboration was founded in 2000. At the beginning, it was aimed at Korean American artists as a platform for sharing their talents and pursuing their dreams. Since then, the organization’s reach has spread across the United States and since 2006, it is an official non-profit organization. Today, it is a “pan-Asian Pacific Islander movement” which has for goal to break stereotypes and increase diversity by empowering creators to become prominent in media and change culture.
On November 3rd to 5th, Kollaboration organized EMPOWER Weekend 2017 in Los Angeles, consisting of three days meant to celebrate and further talents within the Asian American community. On November 5th, Harry Shum Jr. was announced as a surprise guest of the conference’s last day. Besides daringly getting involved in the controversial ‘pineapple on pizza’ debate, Harry attended the weekend’s closing keynote.
The main topic of the keynote was The State of Asian Americans in Entertainment, and beside Harry Shum Jr. featured Kollaboration’s Global Executive Director and host of the weekend Minji Chang; Jon M. Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians with movies like the Step Up movies under his belt; David Gonzales, founder of World of Dance; Moez Shivji, CFO of E! Entertainment; and Kulap Vilaysack, comedian, writer and showrunner of Bajillion Dollar Propertie$. The participants discussed a broad spectrum of subjects related to the keynote’s topic which gave us an insight into not only Harry’s career past and his personal life, but also his upcoming projects and his future. Have a look below at some of the standout moments of the panel.
During the panel, the attendees were asked about self care and what advice they would give about it.
“Mine is pretty simple,” Harry said. “If you have to wake up early, you know, there’s been a lot of times where you get these insane schedules where you have to wake up at 4–5 in the morning and you’re just angry. You wake up angry.” Continuing, Harry said, “And so one day I was like ‘You know, I’m going to change it up and not be angry when I wake up.’ And literally, once I wake up I take a deep breath and I smile.”
In doing this, Harry thinks it has affected more than just his mood when he wakes up.
“It sounds crazy, but I’ve been doing that ever since and I think you starting your day off like that is going to have a domino effect on how you react to things throughout the day. And that is the biggest thing – how you react to things because you always have a choice. When we say ‘Oh I can’t, this is not going for me, this is not going well’ anything you do is leaning towards that thing. And that thing, whatever that stressful thing or obstacles are, you don’t know if that’s what led to it. So why not react to it in a way where it’s going to be as positive as possible and to have the best outcome that you yourself can have for it, can contribute to it? So for me, that is as simple as that. Along with, you know, working hard and doing all of that stuff. Everyone knows that. So I think that simple thing for me really changed the way I react to things. We’re human, we’re all reactive beings, and for me that has helped tremendously, so that’s my advice for that.”
Harry also gave us some insight into his earlier life. Speaking about his upbringing, he talked about what working in his parents’ Chinese restaurant as a young boy taught him and how it prepared him for his career.
“Knowing all those little things, that hardship, I think what’s really, really important about growing up in America and having parents that own a store – or a restaurant – is child labor (laughs). They put me to work and [in] that I learned how to be resilient and also just to work hard at whatever you’re doing. The arts and dancing and acting was something I applied all those things [to].”
Talking about his career, Harry said that he acted before he started his professional career as a dancer. About 7 years in, he reached a point where he realized that he just wanted to act. The transition from dancer to actor was not easy; “I would go into rooms and they’d see my resume and they’d go ‘Oh you’ve done TV, but you’re dancer number 2, dancer number 3’ and it’s all these things where it’s just like ‘But where’s your acting stuff?’”, Harry said of the tough period. Because of this, he would go in for auditions and lose out to actors without any credits.
Continuing, Harry spoke about a weekend that would change his life. He talked to his mom about where he was at in his career and she suggested that maybe it was time for him to go back to school and get a degree. “I had this point where I was like ‘I already dropped out of college before this, I don’t want to go in and possibly drop out again,’” Harry said of the conversation.
That same weekend, Harry got a call about an audition that would take place on Sunday. He was reluctant toward it, seeing as his grandmother had just passed away and he’d just got gotten out of the funeral. However, his then girlfriend (now wife) Shelby had done a pilot for this show that would later on be known as Glee and said “This is going to be really cool, it’s going to be a musical.” Harry was still hesitant since he had fought so hard to leave the world of dancing behind, but he decided to go to the audition either way. The rest, as they say, is history!
Harry also mentioned his parents and how they felt about his career choices when he first started out in the industry. “I have immigrant parents, and them coming here is this tired story of they want you to be a doctor, they want you to be just safe. I remember when I dropped out of college, which I kind of held from them for a couple of months after. And I told them ‘Hey, I’m going to go to L.A. and try and do the thing. ‘What thing?’ ‘You know, the thing.’ They were like ‘Whoa, hold up. What are you doing?’”
This prompted Harry to explain dancing to them, and his love for it. “‘I didn’t even know you could make money doing it. It’s crazy, they pay you to dance!’” “What are we talking about here?” his parents asked. Harry then learned as much as he could about the business, breaking it down into what he would make for different jobs. “‘This is the situation here,’” Harry told his parents when he told them this. “‘If I go on tour, if I do this, this is how much money I’ll make. If I go get that I will teach dance and this is how much money I’ll make. I will be okay. Let me try it out. Don’t get mad at me. And don’t force me to go back to school yet.’”
“So I had this timeline of like a year,” Harry added, “to get my sh*t together and push myself to that extent. And for me, they saw that and they were like ‘Oh, okay. But we’ll see how long it lasts.’ And then we fast forward about like 10–12 years later where they’re still like ‘Oh it’s cool.’ Glee was a moment where, if you have immigrant parents they’re like ‘Oh this is cool, that’s nice’ and then when you make it into their language newspaper they’re like ‘Oh my God, you made it!’ And they tell everyone like ‘Look at my son!’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell them ‘Mom it’s a local newspaper.’”
Proceeding, Harry told the attendees about a special moment for him and his parents. “The moment that actually brought tears to my eyes is when I did a movie– I grew up watching Hong Kong films with my family. We sat there and watched and we just loved it. That was like bonding where we didn’t say anything together but we watched it. And I worked on this movie with Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen and they got to come out and meet them, and I’ve never seen my parents fangirl ever in my life. They just looked at me and the way they looked at me like… And I’m like ‘I didn’t make it yet, but I’m trying, I’m still doing my thing’ but the way they looked at me, they understood at that moment when I made eye contact with them and they looked back.”
Harry also elaborated on his Glee experience, talking about how he was primarily cast as a dancer without any lines. “[It was] a big win,” he said about getting the role. “I didn’t know what the show was, I didn’t know how big it was going to be. No one knew. And at that point before it aired, it started gaining a lot of traction. But that was one step into it, because the reality is that’s a big step, you’re on a big show, but the behind the scenes is like ‘I am on a big show and I’m very grateful for it, but now I also want to be able to be featured and be part of it, contribute and be a character.’”
“There’s two ways I can go at it,” Harry said while recalling how he felt about only being a background dancer on the show. “I can just be complacent and just go on, or I can try and always see what I can do to gain access to contributing more to the show.” This involved making up his own stories in the background. The only description offered about his character Mike Chang was “Asian dancer”, so through composing his own stories in the back of his mind, Harry created his own character since the script was lacking in that area.
Later, Harry finally got his first line, which ironically enough was the dance related “I can pop and lock!” Harry remembered practicing it in several different ways, not wanting to screw it up. Throughout the 22 episodes of Glee’s first season, Harry had about three lines all in all.
When the cast went on a nationwide tour, Harry asked himself “What else can I do to make them see my talents without being all up in their faces?”
It all came to a head when LXD, a dance passion project Harry was working with Jon M. Chu on, were asked by Ryan Murphy to open up the Glee tour. Harry played a character and had a solo performance in LXD’s opening act, so he would do that before getting on stage with the Glee cast.
During the first show, Harry was surprised when people recognized him and “went nuts” over the character of Mike Chang. Ryan Murphy and the producers of the show saw this and took note. After that point, Harry was promoted to a series regular and started getting actual storylines on the show.
“The thing is, you might get that big opportunity, right, but you’ve got to be prepared for it and also be creative in how you push forward,” Harry resumed. “I think there’s no one avenue or different avenues of ‘Do this, do this and you’ll be successful’. That’s bullshit in my mind. I think you have to find out what works for you, what special talent that you could put forth and contribute to the story. We’re all trying to create stories and you are your own authentic being. People say ‘Oh that’s not authentic Chinese food’, ‘That’s not authentic bla bla bla food’ but I think for some people they like to put different things in it and that’s authentic in their household. That’s the same thing with you as a person. Be authentic and don’t be afraid to show that to people.”
“Last thing I want to say for those opportunities,” Harry said, wrapping up the question, “is there’s moments where I really spoke out, there’s moments where I really showcased what I can do but there’s also moments where you kind of step back and say ‘I’m going to be observing this so I can learn from this’ and not always speak up and being that person that talks a lot because you end up becoming that annoying person that no one will hire. So at the end of the day, I think, be balanced – look at both sides, look at all of it and be authentic.”
Next, Jon M. Chu went on a tangent about how much he admires and respects Harry, and honestly, we can relate.
“I’ve known Dave [Gonzales] and Harry for a long time now. They work their asses off, they’re on the ground every day getting better.” He went on, recalling when they first met over ten years ago. ”I had this weird crazy moment. I saw [Harry] when he first auditioned for Step Up 2 and he was so eager. And this m*therf*cker, before that he was the most booked dancer on television. He had all these commercials. Everyone that he danced with that you talked to at the time was like ‘Oh, Harry always figures it out. Whatever part it is he’ll book the job. He’s at like 18 iPod commercials and different hairstyles. And then when he wanted to be an actor, that jump… He came to the audition and I asked him to do capoeira and I invited all the producers because they loved Harry and they loved his look so they wanted to come watch him do dance. And he danced and I said ‘Oh can you do capoeira’”
Here, Harry jokingly said that he couldn’t, but Jon explained that he actually did it for seven minutes. “I was dying and I was like ‘I can only do the same handstand only so much and they were like ‘Keep going’.” “I didn’t know how much work it was,” Jon said.
“Then we shot Step Up 2,” M. Chu continued, “and [Harry] was a fine actor, he was still in his beginning sort of moments in this.” Jon went on, summarizing Harry’s incredible work ethic and character in a sentence: “And then Glee of course saw the opportunity where he went from background dancer to featured to fan favorite to all these things to taking over the tour in a lot of ways.”
As Jon carried on, we even got to learn some more information about Crazy Rich Asians which he and Harry worked on together. To Jon, shooting this movie was special because of the all Asian cast.
“There was a purpose, people had an extra sense of freedom that they didn’t get to play these parts in anything else they’ve been in. The fact that ‘Oh, we get to take time for lighting and the make-up gets to be perfect for us and money is spent on the costumes. We get to be glamorous and stylish and charming and lovable and villains and all these different things. You collect these people who are comedians and dramatic actors and they all got to do their thing.”
“And then we hadn’t worked together for a little bit,” Jon said talking of himself and Harry, “and this summer we shot Crazy Rich Asians. There’s a part that gets bigger as the franchise goes if we’re still lucky and it fit Harry the best, but it was a little part in this movie so I asked him to come and do this as sort of a favor and with the idea that this would grow, and knowing he could kill it. But at the same time not fully knowing because when he showed up he’s with Gemma Chan in this scene and it’s this like… He walks in with this suit and literally I did not expect it. I’m looking at this guy and he is so suave and charming. He went from this level actor to this level actor, like leading man. A man showed up on screen that day and honestly it took my breath away like ‘Holy f*ck… This guy made it. He figured it out. He worked with all these people and kept working and got better and better’ so to me that is inspiration alone to see him progress. Not just want it but progress so much that it shocked me, and I’ve known him for a long time so it was a weird moment. Now I look at him and I’m like ‘Damn you’re good-looking, bro.’”
We could honestly listen to Jon M. Chu talk about his love for Harry all day. Who will bring the popcorn? We were so excited for Crazy Rich Asians already, and learning more about Harry’s expanding role from Jon M. Chu only added to that! We can’t wait to see what unique qualities Harry brings to the role of Charlie Wu.
Lastly, the keynote participants were asked about where they see themselves in five years. “This is always a very difficult question to answer for me,” Harry said, reminiscing before looking ahead. “I remember being asked ‘What is your ten-year-plan?’ from ten years ago and my thing was like ‘I want to dance for Michael Jackson.’ That obviously didn’t happen.”
“For me it all changes. I think a year from now it will completely change, and for me to say what exactly I want to do, i think, is very difficult because five years ago or when I worked with Jon on Step Up in – was it 2007?” (Cue Harry exclaiming “We’re old!” when Jon confirmed that it was indeed ten years ago.) “That was ten years ago, and in my mind what has happened in that ten years I couldn’t even have imagined. I think the key for me was always ‘What is this opportunity now that I have and what can I do with it now?’ And from then on I can propel and move forward, and hopefully certain things will come to fruition five years from now.”
“Even Jon – thank you so much for those kind words – I look up to Jon,” Harry went on. “I remember when I first met him on Step Up 2 when he was creating all these things and I was like ‘Yo, how does this guy sleep? When does he sleep?’ He’d come and edit everything and he would come into the rehearsals and he was just so hands on and I didn’t know that’s what directors do.”
Moving on, Harry realized Jon wasn’t like other directors at all: “And then I’d go on to another project and realize ‘Oh yeah that’s not what directors do.’” Elaborating and also weaving it into his answer, Harry sustained. “[Jon] does more than he needs to, just because he’s so passionate. And I think that is what happens when you have passion that’ll lead to those goals that you have. I think it’s good when you have those goals to, whether you want to be an actor, director or even have a career in finance or building a lifestyle brand – I think all those things are incredibly important but what are you going to do to get there? What are those little things, what relationships are you going to have, what work are you going to put into it?”
Besides, Harry, like Jon, talked about Crazy Rich Asians, offering us some details about it and making us even more excited for the 2018 movie. “For me looking at it, I would never have thought I’d be in a movie like Crazy Rich Asians, a Warner Brothers movie. In that aspect for me I just think like… That’s a huge thing to be a part of.”
Continuing, Harry talked about the project overall and what it was like to work with an all Asian cast. “One thing I want to say about that movie is that I came into it just kind of like the last couple of weeks, and I came to play and met everyone. And the coolest thing is – and going back to where we’re at right now with the Asian community – meeting this cast of Asians that came from completely different places. Because we say Asian American a lot – obviously L.A., Hollywood, it’s all here. But there’s Asian British, there’s Asian Australians, Asian Singaporean, Malaysian actors all over the place. And this movie had that and it made me realize ‘Wait, there’s only a couple of Asian Americans in this movie’ and in my mind I’m like ‘I’m not even full Asian American so I can’t pride myself on that!’ So I thought it was just so cool that once we all can really see what’s out there and learn from that and also kind of come together, I think it’s such a huge thing. And never would I have thought that that would’ve ever happened. And to see that, how much talent is out there, I can’t wait to see how much talent is here and for Hollywood and the media to actually see that.”
It is sadly a known fact that the Asian representation in Hollywood has long left a lot to be desired. More often than not, movie studios have opted to whitewash movies and its casts, i.e. casting actors who are white in roles that are originally and ethnically Asian. An example of this would be Scarlett Johansson cast as the lead actress in Ghost in the Shell, a movie based on a Japanese manga and anime.
For almost two decades, Kollaboration has worked on promoting and improving Asian representation in media. Looking at Hollywood’s history of lack of proper representation, it’s not hard to understand why this work is so important. Some improvements have been made over the years. For example, shows like ABC’s Fresh off the Boat about a Taiwanese family’s life in the US – that Harry talked about recognizing himself in during the keynote – have been incredibly popular over the years. This is not only improvement as far as representation is concerned, but it also gives the middle finger to the notion that people wouldn’t want to see shows that represent Asians as more than just fringe actors and that they wouldn’t be successful.
However, these improvements unfortunately only rectify a small part of the problem. Asian actors have often found it difficult to be cast in lead roles, only being offered smaller, niched ones often playing on Asian stereotypes – meaning characters that, for instance, are math geniuses in the back, or martial artists.
It’s not hard to think of movies with an all white cast, but it’s essentially a guarantee that trying to think of movies featuring all Asian casts will leave you struggling for a long time. Since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club, few movies have been made up of an exclusively Asian cast. This is merely one of the reasons why Crazy Rich Asians is as important as it is. The movie is proud of its diverse all Asian cast. The two leads – Henry Golding and Constance Wu – are respectively Asian British and Asian American. Michelle Yeoh is of Malaysian descent and our very own Harry Shum Jr. is Costa Rican and Asian American – just to name a few. Not only that, but the movie is also directed by the highly talented and respected Asian director Jon M. Chu. This makes it a rarity in Hollywood, but we hope that there’ll be a day when that will no longer be the case.
Movies like Crazy Rich Asians matter because of their importance. The 2018 movie is a part of breaking traditional Asian stereotypes and allowing both Asian actors and characters to be nuanced and have more sides to them than their heritage. For example, thanks to Crazy Rich Asians, Hollywood will have one of its few male Asian romantic leads in a major motion picture. This alone is groundbreaking since Asian actors in leading roles have sadly been few and far between.
With the reception of shows like Fresh off the Boat and movies such as Crazy Rich Asians being so positive, Hollywood needs to take note. Representation matters, and Asian actors need to be able to showcase their talent in non-traditional roles in order to crush the stereotypes surrounding them.
Looking at Harry Shum Jr.’s impressive résumé, what stands out is the diversity in the roles and characters he’s portrayed over the years. In the Step Up movies, he was allowed to showcase both his acting and dancing abilities in the role of Cable, a yearbook editor and one of the best freestylers around.
Furthermore, Glee is a standout part of Harry’s acting credits because of what he turned the role into. Originally, Mike Chang provided diversity to Ryan Murphy’s cast but was seen as nothing more than a background dancer, having little to no lines in the first season. Thanks to Harry’s drive, dedication and hard work and how he expertly turned his character into more than just the “Asian dancer” with the stories he crafted for him in the background – Mike Chang became a fan favorite. The showrunners noticed this and made Harry a series regular with his own (albeit few) storylines. While it is our opinion that there was far too little of Mike Chang on the show, this progression – and how it all happened because of Harry – is nothing short of monumental.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny allowed Harry to tap into something he loved as a child – martial arts – and work with a stellar cast consisting of Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. Harry and the movie’s team worked on expanding the character’s significance and making it important to the story. Talking about his character, Harry said he’s a warrior who finds love and realizes his connection to the story’s legendary sword. “He’s also a young kid that’s flirtatious and has a temper, who still feels like he knows everything, but realizes that, as his past unfolds, it turns him to a new direction that he needs to head towards.”
With Shadowhunters, Harry has broken even more ground within the Asian community. Not only does he portray one of the fan favorite characters, but he is also one half of what is easily the most popular pairing of the show. Though Magnus already has a major part in the book series his character has only grown with Harry as the portrayer – both in importance and popularity. Harry’s portrayal is not only important to the Asian community but also to the LGBTQ+ community as well as the Asian LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, LGBTQ+ representation is lacking in Hollywood, and representation of queer Asians even more so. According to GLAAD, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Asian Pacific Islanders (API) are minorities within a minority.” When LGBTQ+ representation is done in media or on the small or big screen, the voices heard are often white. Moreover, when queer Asian representation is portrayed, it is often in a “stereotypical, exoticized” way, “which reinforces stereotypes of APIs being silent, demure and sexual objects.”
What then makes Shadowhunters and Harry Shum Jr.’s portrayal of Magnus so important, is the way it adds to the lacking parts of queer representation and defies predominant stereotypes. As an Asian bisexual male, there are sadly few characters like Magnus on TV and in movies. “I play an openly proud bisexual warlock and a person of color that’s in a relationship with a recently out gay Shadowhunter who hunts demons for a living,” Harry said at 2017’s GLAAD Awards where he and Matthew Daddario accepted the award for Outstanding Drama Series for the show’s LGBTQ+ representation. “I don’t think that this combination has ever existed on TV. That just shows the progress of telling these unique stories.”
Not only does Harry Shum Jr. and Shadowhunters add to the representation of queer Asian characters in media, but they also do so in a healthy way that has been praised by the community. Besides the GLAAD award that Shadowhunters won, Harry also won the award for Best Bisexual Representation by a Supporting Character – Male at the 2017 Bisexual Representation Awards.
On top of that, in Harry Shum Jr.’s portrayal of him, Magnus Bane is anything but stereotypical. He’s outspoken and vocal about his belief. And while being the High Warlock of Brooklyn, he is also allowed to be multifaceted and have moments where he needs the support from his loved ones without it depicting him as weak or fragile. His sexuality doesn’t define who he is nor does his character begin and end with how he labels himself. It is simply one of the many, complex layers about him. Ideally, this is how all queer representation would be portrayed.
With Shadowhunters, Harry’s diversity in roles has only increased. By depicting Magnus Bane, he is adding to his already incredible history of portraying unique, versatile characters. In doing so, he helps to defy Hollywood’s view of Asians, both when it comes to characters as well as people.
The movie industry has a long history of only seeing and casting Asians in stereotypical roles, for example as kung fu masters or genius side characters never allowed any prominence. Their sexuality and appeal has often been devalued. Furthermore, Asians have also been considered as stoic and unable to express emotion, an excuse that has been used to cast white actors instead. Harry’s diverse career is full of roles that show his emotional range, characters that have multiple layers to them and allow him to showcase his many sides.
Recently, Harry has further broadened his diverse credits. On September 19th, this year it was announced that he would be joining Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station. The action movie is a sequel to Escape Plan and Escape Plan 2: Hades. While we still know next to nothing about Harry’s character, there is no denying the significance of his role. Like the movie industry overall, it’s rare to see Asian actors cast in major roles in action movies. We’re incredibly proud to see Harry’s name next to Sylvester Stallone’s in the credits and can’t wait to see what his character will bring to the movie.
As we already know, Escape Plan 3 was not the only motion picture Harry was cast in this year. Reuniting with his friend and colleague director Jon M. Chu, Harry was announced to star in the movie adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s hit novel Crazy Rich Asians written in 2013. In the novel, the U.S. born Chinese-American professor Rachel accompanies her boyfriend Nick to Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding. With culture differences and secrets yet to be revealed, this wedding sure is going to be something else.
Crazy Rich Asians is unique because it features an exclusively Asian cast and director. The movie’s lead actors, Henry Golding and Constance Wu, have discussed just why the movie – and particularly the Asian representation in general is so important to see on the big screen. “Crazy Rich Asians is very special in that it is, I believe, the first American studio movie to star all Asians that is set entirely in a contemporary setting,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, we had Joy Luck Club, which was many decades ago, but [in] Joy Luck Club, half of that is a period piece, and that’s the immigrant story. It’s about these women who came here and are immigrants, and Crazy Rich Asians is the opposite. Yes, Rachel is an immigrant, and she’s going back to Asia, but she’s not going back in time.”
When the negotiations about adapting Crazy Rich Asians started, there were producers who wanted to whitewash Rachel’s character in order to appeal to a broader audience, something the book’s author Kevin Kwan refused. Elaborating on the differences between Crazy Rich Asians and The Joy Luck Club, Constance Wu explained why Crazy Rich Asians matters so much and why only casting asians in non-contemporary movies is harmful. “A lot of the roles I see that are good for Asians are often period pieces. While that’s great, I think it says something if we can only picture Asians in something from another time. It’s like a different type of alienation.” Proceeding, Wu said: “To see Asians and Asian Americans and Asian Australians and Asian British in a context that isn’t a period piece, a dated piece, like contemporary people with contemporary problems and not just the idea of an Asian but their real lives.” According to Wu, presenting a part of today’s Asia helps to increase the understanding of how Asian representation should be done. This in turn also helps to fight Hollywood’s whitewashing.
With movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan believes that things are changing. “I do think the tide is turning,” he said to Entertainment Weekly. “I had one of the top producers in Hollywood come to me wanting to make this movie and wanting to do it right, so I think the culture is shifting. They’re seeing the importance of this.”
Both Constance Wu as well as the movie’s male lead Henry Golding have also talked about how varied the characters in Crazy Rich Asians are, and why this is important. Wu stated that it shows that Asians are not merely one thing, but that they are all diverse and “a multitude of things”.
Henry Golding described this as well in his and Constance’s interview for their Entertainment Weekly cover story. “The story itself is colored with so many characters and each character could have their own spinoff book or movie just because they’re so rich. That has never really been explored identity wise for Asians in cinema. They have always been typecast as the sidekick or have a very sort of bit role. But each of these characters bring something to the table. It’s just littered with visually and just characteristically amazing, beautiful people.”
Having movies and shows like Step Up, Glee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, Shadowhunters, Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station and Crazy Rich Asians on his list of projects – Harry Shum Jr.’s career is nothing short of impressive. Through his hard work, dedication and love for what he does, he has made a name for himself in the industry.
He’s gone from a sidelined background dancer to series regular on Glee, to a fan favorite and part of the most popular and (on several levels) groundbreaking couple on Shadowhunters, to an acclaimed, diverse movie star.
Harry Shum Jr. is a role model, in more ways than one. He’s shown that anything is possible with ambition, passion and relentless work, inspiring fans from all over the world to pursue their dreams. And through his broad, diverse career history, he’s contributed to breaking traditional stereotypes, portraying and creating characters that are multifaceted and nuanced with their own development and arcs. In his career as a dancer and later on an actor, Harry is proof that there is so much talent to be found in the Asian community – if only producers, directors and media are willing to seek it out, and let their stories be heard and their layers unfold.
Oh… it looks like the whole team took part in creating this article!