Tina Huang

Take The Shape You Feel Comfortable In

Tina Huang. Healthy Living Magazine

Tina Huang. Healthy Living Magazine

Her work in Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks and Ryan Gosling in Drive demarcated her away from stereotypes that keep Asian-Americans actors in the shadows of the entertainment industry. We interviewed Tina about film, entertainment, health and breaking free from stereotypes.

HealthyLivinG: You’ve done two hot series with “Rizzoli & Isles” and “General Hospital.” Tell us about this work.

Tina Huang: I like working on both of these shows. Actually though, I’m lucky to have experienced working on all different types of shows, not only on “Rizzoli & Isles” and “General Hospital” but Nickelodeon’s “Hollywood Heights,” “Kroll Show” and now with a guest spot on NBC’s “Night Shift.” I’m interested in all the different ways to construct a story for television and all these sets have their own rules. For instance, GH can shoot anywhere from 30-40 scenes a day with three to four cameras filming at the same time. On Rizzoli, we have two cameras. It shoots more like a film and we maybe do four to five scenes a day. I like learning to work in both environments.

HealthyLivinG: What did you learn about Tom Hanks, both as a director and actor in Larry Crowne, that you didn’t know before making the film?

Tina Huang: I did get to do several scenes with Tom Hanks, which he was also directing. I can say that he is as nice as the rumors purport. He is funny and knew every single person on set by name. It was so great to see someone with such success, whose talent I admire greatly, still be a kind human being. I respect that and am happy to have seen him set that example. None of this I would have known for fact until I saw it first-hand.

HealthyLivinG: How can one manage to not fall for Ryan Gosling while working with him in Drive?

Tina Huang: He was a total gentleman and everyone on set was speaking so glowingly about him. The reason why he is so successful and likable is because he is a professional and courteous person. I can see how it would be tough for people not to fall for him but I’m taken and have fallen for another (my husband) so sorry, Ryan, but I’m not free.

HealthyLivinG: Tell us about your new film My Dead Boyfriend.

Tina Huang: Heather Graham is the lead. She finds her boyfriend dead at home (spoiler is in the title) and then goes on a journey to discover who he really was. I had a great time working on this. It shot in New York so it was fun to be back home working.

HealthyLivinG: Were unique pressures put upon you that you felt growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City in Chinatown?

Tina Huang: When growing up in Chinatown and the Lower East Side in the late 80s and 90s, there were a lot of pressures. I’m not sure how unique they are but I hope not all kids have to deal with those things. There were gangs, drugs, truancy, young women getting pregnant, pressure not to leave the neighborhood but also pressure to become something great and leave the neighborhood. I’m forever grateful to those teachers and mentors that gave me positive reinforcement so that I could navigate those pressures.

HealthyLivinG: How is Hollywood open and closed to Asian actors?

Tina Huang: Thank you for asking this important question. Things are slowly getting better as there are more opportunities for Asian American actors, which is great. But more often than not, the specific roles available for Asian American actors tend to be uncomfortable stereotypes - the nerd, the dragon lady, the abused sex worker, etc. It’s heartening to see a few successful actors like John Cho and Lucy Liu play non-stereotypical leading roles. But less established Asian American actors are faced with a difficult dilemma.

I see Asian Americans in all career fields in America but this isn’t reflected on TV. And the roles for Asian American actors are often immigrant characters rather than American characters that happen to be of Asian descent. But I don’t want to come off as bitter. I think Hollywood can and will do better. The recent successes of TV shows with diverse casts are evidence that audiences are demanding a better representation of a diverse country. At the very least, I will do my part to play characters that represent the America that I know.

HealthyLivinG: What do you do to stay in shape?

Tina Huang: I train with a friend. He’s a certified personal trainer so we do a lot of body weight exercises. I will admit, it is tough with a busy schedule. I try to take a yoga class now and again, or go for a hike. My favorite exercise is when I am playing a sport or doing an activity outdoors that doesn’t feel like working out. Dancing it out is always a good choice. Most importantly, I exercise to feel healthy and blow off steam. Women can and should take whatever shape they feel comfortable in.

HealthyLivinG: Our traditional last question- your health tips for HL readers.

Tina Huang: Sleep. Turning off all your electronics at least a half hour before bed and getting a good night’s sleep.

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