Newcomer Harry Shum Jr. can be seen as one of the stars of the most anticipated series of the fall 2009 season, “Glee!” Created and produced by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck), Glee is a one-hour musical comedy that follows an optimistic high school teacher, Mr. Schuster (Matthew Morrison) as he tries to transform a group of very unpopular, social misfits, known to everyone at school as the Glee Club, into national champions.
Newcomer Harry Shum Jr. can next be seen as one of the stars of the most anticipated series of the fall 2009 season, “Glee!” Created and produced by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck), Glee is a one-hour musical comedy that follows an optimistic high school teacher, Mr. Schuster (Matthew Morrison) as he tries to transform a group of very unpopular, social misfits, known to everyone at school as the Glee Club, into national champions. On the show, Harry plays “Mike Chang”, a football player with dancing abilities that ends up joining the Glee Club despite the fact that it is social suicide. The show is co-created and executive produced by Ian Brennan and Brad Fulchuk and will premiere on Fox September 9 at 9pm ET/PT. In addition to “Glee,” Harry will be reprising his character of tech guru “Cable” for the third installment of the Step Up series, Step Up 3D, which will be released in 2010.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica and raised in both Northern and Southern California, Harry’s entertainment career began in high school with dance and later, he discovered acting. While in high school, a friend dared him to join the school’s dance team “AGHS Dance Company.” Harry had no formal training, but something in his gut was telling him he could do it. He tried out and made the team. Harry changed the face of the team with a new style and zest that no one had thought possible! Through this experience, Harry found a natural gift for choreography, which would prove to be helpful in his career.
Harry could grab and captivate an audience on stage. It was at this moment that he became hooked and knew he wanted to be an entertainer in every sense of the word.
After making the move to Los Angeles, things began to take off for him! He landed his first dance gig touring for Kaci and followed with world renowned artists such as Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Ashanti, T-Pain, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, and Raven just to name a few. On top of his extensive dance credits, Harry was cast as one of the original silhouettes in the highly successful Apple iPod commercial and print campaign. He also appeared in commercials for McDonalds, Joe Boxer (K-Mart) and Gap (Christmas). He is also featured on the very popular television and Internet campaign for Cingular-iTunes.
In 2004, Harry landed his first acting job on the popular Fox series, “Boston Public” and followed that with a guest-starring role on such shows as “Zoey 101,” ABC Family’s “Greek” and the hit TV movie “iCarly: iGo to Japan” as the arch nemesis “Yuki.” Harry used his extraordinary dance skills to break into the motion picture arena and landed a featured dancer role in the hit teen movie You Got Served (2004). Next were roles in such hit movies as Fast & Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, Stomp The Yard, Center Stage 2 and Bewitched. In 2008, he landed a role in the much anticipated sequel Step up 2: the Streets, in which he played the role of “Cable.”
When Harry isn’t acting or dancing, he enjoys spending time with his dog Charlie, a Terrier-Schnauzer mix. He has a rescue dog that was found by his “Glee” co-star Lea Michele when they were shooting together. Harry says he was dirty, shaggy, very calm and shy. Besides hanging with Charlie, Harry LOVES to eat! So much so that his friends have nicknamed him “Foodie…” because he is always trying new foods and always picking weird and exotic restaurants to explore. He recently joined a kickball team called WAKA and also enjoys golfing, cycling, and writing. He is a tech geek that loves gadgets and anything that has to do with technology.
Harry was very personable during the interview. He was happy to talk about his childhood growing up in Costa Rica, along with the great strides he made since breaking the stereotypical mold of a tough guy.
ASIANCE: Can you tell us how you got into acting and dancing before Glee? I saw your reel and the things you have worked on. Your dancing moves are so cool!
Harry: I didn’t start acting and dancing until junior high and I did a one-man show in junior high that was a requirement to audition for a play. I didn’t know if I would want to do it, but then I put my all into it. I did a one-minute rendition of Good Morning Vietnam and after I did that, the response was everyone cracking up and laughing. I held onto that.
See Harry’s reel including his iPod commercial
From then on, I did a lot of plays and got myself really involved in that world. High school came and dancing was never really something I wanted to do. I decided to dive in and “What the heck?”, I’m the type of person to try new interests and explore. Someone dared me to join the dance team or audition, and surprisingly I made it. When I joined, it wasn’t the cool thing but I thought ‘let’s make a difference and actually do some cool stuff’ so we created the boys’ dance. Girls would be screaming when we did the body rolls and it was really funny. From then on, I incorporated dancing into my career.
ASIANCE: Can you talk about Glee and your role in the new series?
Harry: I play Mike Chang. He is the shy football player who ends up getting pulled into auditioning for the Glee Club with some of the other cast members. He ends up joining the club and it’s one of those things that is social suicide in high school. It’s really unpopular and it’s not where the cool kids go. There’s no funding in it, but it’s just a creative outlet for my character and other characters as well. So far it’s been really great.
We just finished thirteen episodes and right now it is crazy because when I first got the job, I didn’t know much about it. Then I started hearing all the buzz about it.
It’s just crazy how much buzz there is over the show with how much thought we’ve put in. I’m just really proud to be a part of something so grand and it’s been a great ride.
ASIANCE: Was it easy to relate to your own high school experience?
Harry: It’s not too far from high school and those are actually the years that I loved. It’s funny when issues come up on the show, as far as how the characters interact, they have interesting things. It is cool and edgier. It touches on high school back in the day and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to it.
ASIANCE: What is your heritage? How are you viewed in Hollywood?
Harry: Yeah I have a unique story. I am full Chinese. My father is from Fujian and my mom was born in Hong Kong. I was actually born in Costa Rica because they moved there to start a business. My sisters were born there as well. I feel I have the best of so many worlds. I speak Chinese and Spanish. Spanish is actually my first language. I learned Chinese and English later on. It messes with your brain when there are three different languages going on. It can be pretty intense but I got through it.
ASIANCE: I saw how you were one of the dancing people in the iPod commercials. What was it like to do moves like that knowing your dancing was a famous silhouette for iPod?
Harry: I remember I was asked to do this commercial and they didn’t know if it was going to work or not. It’s funny because it looks like we just dance. When the camera is on us, it shows us just dancing but there is a lot more to it. It’s really being able to find the movement that will accentuate the things the camera needs to pick up, especially in silhouette form.
Even before that phenomenon, it was crazy because I got to be part of the print ads. Eventually I got to be part of the commercial where I was dancing and my shadow was dancing. Being a part of that is kind of iconic in society and people look at it and think ‘oh wow! I know exactly what that is’.
And a funny story, I won’t get too into it but I used to teach dancing conventions for hundred of kids where they receive credit for it. The funny thing is, they say I danced for Beyonce, but when they say I did the iPod commercial the kids went nuts! I was blown away by that, because I didn’t know how much of an effect I had on these kids. It was also so amazing how much celebrity there is with that.
What I look for in a partner are a couple of things….honest, funny, and knowing how to have fun.
ASIANCE: What do you think of Twitter? Will you update it the same way as, say Ashton Kutcher?
Harry: I think it’s great to reach out and a lot of times kids don’t know how to do it the right way but I think it’s great communication. I’ve talked to a lot of fans back and forth and it’s a great way to keep your privacy as well as put whatever you want out. You’re able to communicate with them and that’s great. When they ask questions you can answer or update what’s coming out and I think for Ashton’s movie, he got that out.
ASIANCE: So, what do you look for in a romantic partner?
Harry:What I look for in a partner are a couple of things….honest, funny, and knowing how to have fun. But the biggest thing for me is knowing how to be open. It sounds weird, but I feel that says a lot about a person, how their personality is. Are they open to trying different types of food because that’s really personable for that person. So those are things that I look for.
ASIANCE: Wow, and what is your favorite food?
Harry: I love Japanese food. Obviously sushi, but I’ve been going towards the more authentic. So right now I’m on a Japanese food theme.
Can we ask about your future projects?
Harry: Right now I’m working on multiple projects and working on LXD. It’s called Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and the creator was John M. Chu and he also directed Step Up 2 and Step Up 3D. It’s this online series that explores dance in itself, calling dancers superheroes. In a way, that what they do is unnatural. So we’re exploring how they got these ‘supernatural’ powers with dancing. It’s all real. These guys are doing all the real moves, no strings, no CGI, and you can check out the trailer at www.thelxd.com. It should show what these guys are doing. I choreographed and I’m also in the episode as well. That should launch in October or late November.
ASIANCE: Is there anything you feel you should add before we have to wrap up?
Harry: Step Up 3D should come out in August 2010. It should be a little while now but about who I am, I like to have fun. I like to work hard and I feel that is fun. It’s all about keeping people entertained. So if I can do that, I am happy.
ASIANCE: Thank you so much. It’s all super cool!
Harry: Thank you, thank you, so nice to talk to you!
Follow Harry twitter.com/iharryshum