Hi, everyone. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a multifaceted young talent who who’s big ideas are bound to cause the kind of ripple effect that creates change. Alex Chester is a model, actress, blogger, and now, a producer. There are multiple other titles I could add, but we’ve run out of space on her name tag. *grin* When you’re done reading her interview, please be sure to click on the links below and follow her progress. In doing so, you’ll be a part of something special.
Welcome, Alex! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Tell me, out of all the things listed on your impressive resume, what is your favorite type of work?
A: I love musical theatre! There is something so magical about being on stage and having an audience. Every performance is different. I’m not saying that actors aren’t consistent but things happen. Costumes break, sets fall apart, and yes lines might be forgotten.
I can only imagine! And because I can only imagine, you should give me an example. I love stories.
A: I have way too many “interesting” stories… When I was performing in Aladdin, a Musical Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure, I was onstage when the flying magic carpet flipped over mid-flight with two of the actors on it. That was pretty horrifying. Luckily they were both ok, but we had to stop the show and empty the house.
A: Another funny story is how I was on stage performing in ‘The King and I‘ and I was not supposed to move. A spider decided that was the perfect moment to descend from the rafters and hang in front of my face. Needless to say, I kept blowing the spider trying to get it away from my face.
How about something from TV or a commercial?
A: A non-theatre favorite story of mine would have to be when I was on ER and main actors were tossing piles of files back and forth to each other, seeing how many they could catch at a time. This all took place in between takes.
Ha! Fortunately, since the patients are fake it won’t be a big deal if they miss and the papers fall out and get mixed up. No one will die.
Okay, so take me back aways. Did you initially start writing (other than what was required) and acting in high school or before?
A: I started writing my blog last year. I never really considered myself a “writer”. Throughout high school, I dabbled in poetry like any good angst-ridden teenage girl, haha. It wasn’t until I started MeSoHapa that I found out how much I enjoyed writing. This was a huge shock to me because I hated English and literature in school. I’m an avid reader, but God forbid you ask me to write an essay. Just the thought makes me cringe.
But your blog is about food, right?
A: Yes! I’ve always had a passion for food. I LOVE to eat. I thought what better way to bring people together than through food! Thus started MeSoHapa.com it’s since expanded to so much more.
I know I’m a fan of food. Probably too much so. *smile* What about acting?
A: I started when I was 5. I was a child model with Ford Models until I turned 13 and they told me I was too short to continue to pursue it.
*rolling my eyes and shaking my head*
A: I’ve been in theatre pretty much my whole life, also doing tv and commercials. I’ve always known my life would be in show business.
Out of all the celebrities you’ve met, who is your favorite and why?
A: I loved working with Ming Na on ER. She was so nice and welcoming to me. I also got the chance to work with John Larroquette doing How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the Pantages in Los Angeles. He’s cool. Took him a while to warm up to us “theatre” peeps.
*laughing* Theatre peeps certainly can be eccentric at times.
So, you’re producing a cabaret. From your Facebook page, I see that you also raised a lot of money for your project. Tell me the story on this. Where’d the idea come from?
A: Being a Hapa (someone that is two or more ethnic backgrounds) is very difficult in the entertainment industry. Not only because ethnic roles are continually being “white washed” but also because casting/producers/directors don’t know what to do with us. We don’t fit in a box. We are two or more cultures and that’s always confusing to people for some reason. We are never Asian, black, Latina, white, etc enough. We are a minority within a minority and often times our own cultures don’t know what the hell to do with us either.
I wanted to create a theatre company where we could showcase “Hapa” talent. Our mission is to bring awareness to others that one side of our diverse makeup or the other should not stereotype us as people or performers. We So Hapa is giving Hapa’s a voice by challenging the perspective of what makes a person “white”, “black”, “Asian”, “Middle Eastern”, “Latino”, etc. because deep down we are all the same. We are human.
I want to stand up and clap for you! Seriously. It’s one thing to recognize and identify an issue. But that’s as far as most people go. You’re doing something about it! Kudos to you, Alex!
A: Thank you. I hope we can bridge the gap between cultures, people, and creeds. Bring some positivity to this world.
Did you have help organizing, etc?
A: I brought on my friends, Kalen Sakima and Rebecca Lerman, as co-producers for We So Hapa and our upcoming show “WeSoHapa – A Multicultural Cabaret”. They are both Hapa and have extensive years in the entertainment industry. Kalen even has his own production company called Sakima Productions. Rebecca is a talented performer and writer and I knew she could really bring this project to life.
Together the three of us make up We So Hapa. We have just hired Viet Vo as the Director of the cabaret. We have an amazing cast that is as diverse as a subway car in NYC, which just makes me so happy to finally being able to create something that gives people of color paid work as an artist.
Fantastic! I really want to pump my fist and yell ‘girl power!’ But, I know this goes far beyond that.
In what ways have you (or fellow Hapas) been subjected to racial ignorance, prejudices, etc in the ‘biz?’
A: One of my fellow actors said to me, after reading an article on my blog called “My Fall From Kosher”, “You’re Jewish?! You don’t look like a Jew!” Let me just say I shut him down real quick.
Being asked by casting directors to speak an “Asian” language and if I didn’t know one to just make it up. Cause you know, one Asian language is the same as the other…
Oh my gosh!
A: Constantly having to explain to my fellow actors that being “white” doesn’t mean you can play every single race under the sun. For some reason, this is very hard for them to swallow.
Yes! I agree with this on so many levels. Too often I’ve seen white folks cast as Native Americans. Pick almost any bible movie and nearly the whole cast is white! I could go on about this topic, but I won’t.
How many shows do you see your theatre company producing annually?
A: I would love to be able to produce 2 – 3 productions a year. Obviously I am jumping way ahead of WeSoHapa’s future. Hopefully our cabaret does well and we are able to do another show within 3 – 6 months. Baby steps.
Also, if you are in NYC please check us out at TheTriadNYC.com to purchase tickets to our show September 12th.
This sounds like a wonderfully gigantic undertaking! Will you still be working as a model or in TV too? What does your life look like right now?
A: My life is very crazy and hectic balancing my blog, acting career, and theatre company. This is my work. This is my job. But, I’m still pursuing acting. Performing on stage is my great love. It’s like breathing for me. I don’t know if I could ever just stop.
That’s a lot. I know I’m stating the obvious, but goodness. But you’re making a living, right?
A: As an actor, you sadly never know where your next paycheck will be. I’m lucky enough to pick up promo model gigs here and there as well as a commercial or two to sustain myself.
Sounds like you know exactly what you’re doing. Do you have a ‘next thing’ in mind after this theatre company starts operating like a well-oiled machine?
A: Culinary School. I’m hoping to attend The International Culinary Center in NYC sooner than later. I believe this will give my blog more clout. I love to cook at home and I love to travel and see the world. I hope that with a culinary degree I can combine my love of performing and my love of eating. I want to be the next Anthony Bourdain.
Even though I know you write a food blog, that’s not the answer I expected. Amazing.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your life’s journey?
A: The biggest challenge for me has been to stop caring so much about what other people think of me, and to stop comparing myself to others.
What has been the biggest help?
A: This might sound horrible, but really, what has helped me so much besides my amazing family and friends, is to just not give a shit anymore. I’m not saying I don’t care about what I do in my life, cause believe me, I do tremendously. But I care more about if I’m happy. You can have all the money, fame, have met the goals of your life, and still be miserable. So many people think “If I just get that show I will be happy”. But I have seen it and experienced it myself and that is so not the case. You’re still going to be an unhappy person, so figure out why! Get help! There’s no shame in that! Being an actor is freaking hard. No one can do it alone. You need a good support group of loved ones and people you trust that will be there for you in the ups and downs and love you for you!
I guess what I am saying is I no longer try to be someone I’m not. I’m a bit quirky and have been told by my boyfriend that I have a huge personality. Ha. Good! I’m learning to embrace me. Learn to like yourself. Don’t try and be someone else other than you. My lovely friend Yuko Kudo puts it so perfectly “I Am Me”.
Beautiful advice and what a great role model you are! Congrats on all your success, Alex and thanks so much for letting me and my peeps have a little part in telling your story.
A: Thank you so much for interviewing me!
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