Appealing to both comics fans and Asian Americans seeking to claim their place in American culture, “Secret Identities” makes brilliant use of the conventions of the superhero comic book to expose the real face of the Asian American experience. This groundbreaking graphic anthology brings together leading Asian American creators in the comics industry. Actress Lynn Chen contributes her own story. The book will be available Aptil 2009. I loved Lynn Chen in “Saving Face” which I actually interviewed her for about 3 years ago. You can see the interview below:
Lynn Chen made her debut on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera House in a ballet featuring Russian dancer Rudolf Nuruyev. She worked steadily between The Metropolitan and NYC Opera House for three years, during which she landed the role of “Ngana” in the Broadway revival of “South Pacific.” Lynn decided to focus on her education and attended Wesleyan University in CT. She couldn't stay away for long, however. After a few years working as a waitress, a teacher, and an administrative assistant, she decided to pursue a professional acting career. Lynn has most recently appeared in guest spots on NBC's “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and in the recurring role of pre-med student “Regina” on ABC's “All My Children.”
ASIANCE: You just finished this film and you've been heavily promoting it. Do you love it?
Lynn: Just in general when you are given a script and it's a leading role, for an actor at my stage, you take whatever you can get but I was very fortunate that Vivian was this amazing character. I really wanted to fight for her to get this role, because when I initially went in for it, after I read the script with each call back I wanted it even more. I lost like pounds for the role because I wanted it so bad even before I was cast. When I was, it wasn't until a few weeks before we started. I already had the whole script memorized; I had read it so many times. I loved it. I was a little obsessed with it.
ASIANCE: Alice says, “By nature she is very girl next door regalness but what I love about Lynn is that there is a sort of intelligence and kindness there that allows the role to not just have her be some sort of babe.” What's your take?
Lynn: It's funny because when I first went in to audition I saw Vivian completely different than Alice did. I saw her as this sweaty ballet dancer who came in right from practice who was funky crazy. And Alice said, “Oh no no no. She's composed. She wears Marc Jacobs. She's from the Upper East Side. ” Then I was like, “Oh, Oh I get it. So I had to rethink it. But I think that confidence part that I brought into it initially is probably something that she saw. A confidence but a sort of approachability.
ASIANCE: Let's talk about the love scene. Any awkward moments?
Michelle: There was an awkward moment which I saved Lynn from.
Lynn: Oh yeah, go ahead.
Michelle Krusiec (co-star): We were trying to prevent each others' nipples from being on the screen for too long (laughs). We were doing some lines and I think we both realized our nipples would clearly be in the scene the entire time. But it so happened that it was Lynn's nipples, so I covered her nipples.
Lynn: Yeah. She's really nice. (laughs)
Michelle: But very naturally if you notice or don't notice to prevent any more shame brought onto us. (Laughs)
Lynn: Thank you.
Michelle: No, actually, Alice would kill us if she heard us. (Laughs) We actually went through a very specific process and we had a few things we shared about each other just do create intimacy and we kind of choreographed it lightly, but really it wasn't manipulated. Because we had our own sort of apprehensions based on whatever, I think that sort of led to the chemistry.
ASIANCE: Do you think the roles for Asian American women in media are changing? Do you have a long way to go?
Lynn: I think its getting better. I don't think there is a long, long way to go. I think within a couple of years, it's going to move pretty fast just because I'm seeing so many more Asian American directors that are coming out right now. They are writing responsibly and casting responsibly, by which I mean utilizing the pool of Asian talent that's out there because no one else is really. But at the same time I've noticed this pilot's season the Asian roles haven't been as stereotypical as I have experienced in the past.
Michelle: I'm always torn because I think there is the desire out there with the network and the studios to cast ethnically responsibly. I think the desire is there to cast ethnics in all roles but I don't know if it actually gets executed. I think when it comes down to it there still needs to be a lot of progress that needs to be made. I don't want to be skeptical because I think it's a bad way to sort of approach this business. I'm much more hopeful and ambitious but I think like Lynn said, it can't just happen on all levels. It can't just be actors. It's got to be writers, directors and executives. It's got to be in a way that sort of infiltrates all elements of the business. It can't just be one group of people. That's where I think needs improvement. I do see progress in that capacity.
ASIANCE: Any advice for Asian American women?
Lynn: For women in general I think it's really important to really know yourself and to listen to yourself and to execute what your feelings are. I used to teach sex ed. The people I'd be teaching with would say certain things and then act a completely different way. I'd say, “Do you really believe what you are teaching?” A lot of them really found it hard to practice what they preach and really found it hard to stick with what they believe in everyday life. I think that's really difficult for women in general.
I think being an Asian American woman today; it's hard because you don't want to be pigeonholed. You don't want people to think that you're defined by your ethnicity but at the same time you don't want to ignore it. I don't know how that relates to sex ed. (laughs)
Michelle: It all relates to sex ed (laughs)
Lynn: I guess not stereotyping. … ok this is how it relates to sex ed. (laughs) A lot of things that people have problems with like in terms of condom use, etc. is that they think, “oh I don't fit into that mold” I'm not like that. I think it's similar to race relations because you think, “Oh I'm not like that Chinese person, I'm not like that Japanese person, so I can't relate to that”. I think it's important to listen to yourself and listen to what other people are saying and then try to act accordingly.
Michelle: I see a lot of criticism within the culture that is both inflicted on oneself and on each other. I think if we take the focus off of that and heighten more of what's going to make an individual happy I think within that process will ultimately create unity and then a society of that will be honoring the individual and then honoring the group and the community. I think that has to happen before progress can really and truly be made. It's like the film, if you really don't come to terms with what you want and what's going to make you happy and you confront those issues you'll never be able to effect change or progress or effect happiness on someone else.