Born in Okinawa, Japan, Shin came to the United States in September 2000 at the age of 18 to pursue his love of acting. Shin’s most notable role was in The Last Samurai as Nobutada, friend to Tom Cruise's character, Algren. Now Shin plays Shen, a young Buddhist monk who was reincarnated over thousands of years to accomplish his mission in the United States to train Wendy Wu.
I feel like I’m from the United States. All my friends are American. When I came here I didn’t think I was going to be out of it but I was very comfortable with American culture and people.
ASIANCE: You’re a black belt in Karate.
Shin: I have a 3rd degree blackbelt in Karate. I earned my blackbelt when I was 18 in Japan and I studied Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, Chinese Martial Arts. I became a 6 time US National Champion in the United States in Kung Fu. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I studied Kyudo (Japanese Archery) and Yabusame.
ASIANCE: How was it working with Brenda?
Shin: Working with Brenda was a lot of fun. She is nice to work with. Her Martial Arts is pretty good. Basics are very nice. Obviously she knows what she is doing. She’s definitely a quick learner, even gymnastics she picked up. I was very impressed with how she controlled herself. Martial Arts is not an easy sport. It definitely takes a lot of time to learn. I was very impressed with her.
ASIANCE: What do you think of the Asian American media landscape?
Shin: I think it’s changing. The movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” changed a lot of aspects of martial arts in the world. The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha, Hero. I really believe the United States world is uniting and moving in that direction.
ASIANCE: How were you received when you first came here in 2000?
Shin: I feel like I’m from the United States. All my friends are American. When I came here I didn’t think I was going to be out of it but I was very comfortable with American culture and people. As soon as I came to the United States, I joined Kung Fu school and all my cousins’ brothers and sisters were American. I was at classes everyday and training with them everyday. They taught me about culture and my Kung Fu teacher became like my father. He taught me a lot of things about business, industry and Martial Arts and how the United States cultures and traditions are.
ASIANCE: Who would you like to work with?
Shin: I don’t have a particular person. I’d like to make a meaningful movie that empowers people in the world. I’d love to work with different actors, actresses, directors and studios. This is my passion to be in this industry and act and socialize and meet new people.
ASIANCE: What do you have coming up next?
Shin: I’m going to make a movie with Ken Russell. Ken Russell is an English director. We’re going to make a movie some time this year. I have a Japanese Sunrise movie which is probably going to be distributed by Sony Pictures. I am going to be starring in the movie. We are probably going to shoot the movie next year either January or February. Also, I have a production company with a lot of movies in development. Joel Silver is interested in one of my feature films. Lions Gate is interested in working with us on a movie. Morgan Freeman and Meg Ryan are interested in working on a movie I have. Definitely one of the movies will make it happen.
ASIANCE: Do you have a girlfriend?
Shin: (laughs) Yes.
ASIANCE: What qualities do you look for in a woman?
Shin: I don’t look for it. When you meet someone natural, someone that fits you, you are very comfortable to be with. You are not forced to do anything. I don’t care where she’s from as long as she is fun, comfortable and natural to be with. As long as she’s fun. She can go anywhere. Talk about guys and girls. You can both be yourself!
ASIANCE: Any advice to Asian Americans?
Shin: I always tell my friends, “If you have a dream! Go for it!” Follow your instincts. Do not give up your dream. If you don’t have one, know what you want in your life. Maybe you need to take a moment and find what it is in your life then go for it all the way and have fun!
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior premieres June 16 at 8 pm on The Disney Channel