Almost nothing can expose the universality of the human experience entirely like art does. Artwork is impressive because it makes it possible for us to step into other pieces of the environment, empathize with other people’s daily life encounters, and even discover areas of ourselves. And that superpower is not dropped on actress Shannon Dang. For the Southern California–born actress, her time in the spotlight has seemingly normally coincided with a additional profound motivation for expression. That driving pressure exhibits up in the star’s everyday living in numerous ways—from her quirky individual design and style to her profession as a specialist dancer to her many roles on-screen for the past 23 decades. But it’s not just the multi-hyphenate’s motivation for personal expression which is motivating her. Upon more inspection, you can effortlessly conclude that Dang’s career has always been additional profound than that. Dang is actively seeking to display up for, convey to tales about, and advocate for the AAPI neighborhood.
On the surface, you can see that as a result of how she’s generally donning a search from Asian American designers such as Laura Kim of Monse and Prabal Gurung, but beyond that, her performing speaks to this goal. Even though the star has a extensive résumé of roles in series such as Sorry for Your Loss and The L Term: Era Q, it was not until 2021 that she landed her recurring starring role in CW’s tv series Kung Fu. And what will make this series so one of a kind for the star—besides it staying her initially significant break—is that she’s acting alongside a solid of Asian actors and that the series is led by Asian American author Christina Kim and co-showrunner Robert Berens. Traditionally speaking, any action film centering on kung fu or superheroes both manages only to seek the services of one particular Asian actor or upholds xenophobic and racist suggestions via its writing. But this television collection is not that, and Dang is just not striving to do that with her function possibly. This star is intentional about almost everything she does, and that shines as a result of in her work as nicely as her particular type. But you never just have to get our term for it.
Forward, Shannon Dang is discussing her career, how she hopes her operate dismantles stereotypes on-display, and her romantic relationship with fashion. Moreover, she was heroic plenty of to shoot some of her preferred items in her wardrobe and share her preferred AAPI-owned trend models. If you didn’t enjoy Dang right before, put together to be swept off your feet.
How did you choose you desired to get into acting?
Developing up, I was obsessed with the Disney Channel and specially the actress Brenda Tune. She was hilarious and relatable, and viewing her on Television set was one particular of the earliest inspirations that experienced me contemplating, “I could do that!” I would enjoy demonstrates with little ones my age and consider currently being their pals and sharing outrageous adventures with them. I failed to know it was “performing.” It just seemed like they had been getting pleasurable, which compelled me to get into it.
You’ve been performing given that you have been youthful how do you come to feel your romantic relationship with the craft has developed as you have labored on a lot more tasks?
My parents have always supported my enjoy for doing and released me to the acting planet. At to start with, I booked a good deal of business work, and at that time, I didn’t see it as a craft. I was showing up and getting myself. But when I commenced to go out for much more roles, I became consciously knowledgeable that I was “acting” and would be so nervous the whole audition and then so unfortunate when I did not e book the career. I was not mentally mature adequate to take care of the “daily rejection” of getting an actor.
So I give up to concentrate on school and started off skillfully dancing at 13—first on the WNBA L.A. Sparks Troop hip-hop group, then I danced for the NBA L.A. Clippers and the NFL L.A. Rams. The dance field is just as nuts as the actor’s existence. It really is loaded with nonstop instruction, battling traffic to go to auditions, frequent rejection, and functioning numerous work to hold on your own afloat. That grit-and-hustle mentality from the dance sector nurtured my self esteem to go after performing all over again. Above time, the connection with my craft evolved from striving to get it proper and hoping men and women like me to just doing work and trusting the success. The additional I learn about myself, the extra I have been equipped to discover and place different variations of myself into my do the job.
What has been a monumental instant in your career so much?
While executing at the Tremendous Bowl LIII was extraordinary, I would have to say reserving my function as Althea Shen in Kung Fu has been the most monumental moment in my occupation hence much. Not only was it my first collection-regular job, but I felt amazingly shut to this character. I made use of to examine character breakdowns and check out to make myself be what the casting administrators should be seeking for. Auditioning for this function was a person of the to start with situations I determined to appear in with a edition of myself and what I preferred to do with the character. It meant so significantly to me understanding that challenging function and trusting in my instincts had compensated off in encouraging protected the purpose.
You have been a star on the CW collection Kung Fu since 2021—can you tell us what compelled you to be a aspect of that project? And why do you truly feel it’s an vital tale to inform?
What at first intrigued me about this task was seeing how fired up my father was when I informed him I was auditioning for the reboot of a exhibit he grew up with. But after I observed the audition breakdown searching for an all-Asian forged, I immediately was drawn to it. I recall contemplating, “Actually, they’re wanting for various Asian actors, not just just one ‘token’?” I understood this would be a thing exclusive, bigger than myself, and I had to be aspect of it. I became Althea Shen, and Kung Fu became the 1st predominantly Asian solid for a drama collection on a major broadcast network. I desire I had displays like ours on Television to watch when I was young. To see households that appeared like mine would’ve been so amazing. Now, generations of AAPI families are observing thistogether and seeing by themselves in our show—it’s this kind of a worthwhile feeling.
Traditionally speaking, Hollywood’s movies and tv sequence have normally depicted the AAPI community in a xenophobic and ignorant light-—how do you hope your do the job aids dismantle stereotypes on-monitor?
I adore that our showrunners, Christina Kim and Robert Berens, have carried out a fantastic career building entirely fleshed-out characters and tale strains that dismantle stereotypes on-monitor. My character, Althea Shen, is a bubbly fashionista who also comes about to be a boss-babe tech CEO. She’s generally a comic aid but also very layered and sensitive. Audiences of all backgrounds and ethnicities uncover her relatable and aspirational—she just comes about to be Asian. The a lot more we have numerous actors participating in multidimensional figures, the further alongside we are in breaking these ignorant stereotypes. I like that Kung Fu has done a excellent career with this, and I’m so honored to be element of relocating the needle ahead.
What tends to make Kung Fu so exceptional is that, unlike other sequence, it champions and facilities Asian heritage by putting the storytelling ability in the fingers of AAPI creatives. What has it been like to convey Christina Kim’s producing to lifestyle, and what do you hope persons acquire absent from the sequence?
It can be been this kind of a pleasure and privilege to be component of this display and provide Christina’s environment to life. I adore that Kung Fu is not only a medium of enjoyment but also an possibility to normalize, convey humanity to, and give a glimpse of what it can be like to be Asian American. It really is been an outstanding and fulfilling working experience to be aspect of some thing even bigger than myself and even bigger than just a Television show. While Kung Fu has subtle nonetheless authentic cultural nuances, it is also filled with common messages of daily life, relatives, bravery, appreciate, soreness, etcetera. I hope that audiences feel entertained, moved, empowered, and impressed by our demonstrate.
Your character in the series, Althea Shen, is exceptionally stylish—what has it been like to get the job done with the costume designer, Angus Strathie, for the clearly show? Would you say your style is very similar to Althea’s type?
Any time I go into a fitting for Althea, I truly feel like I’m having to perform gown-up! Our costume designer, Angus Strathie, is fantastic. He’s innovative, collaborative, and usually wants me to feel wonderful in the clothing. The primary pilot audition under no circumstances talked about anything at all about Althea liking vogue. The position was described as “Nicky’s tech-savvy more mature sister,” so most people auditioning arrived in sporting blazers and several seems of get the job done attire. For some rationale, I felt compelled to show up in a very hot-pink flared-leg jumpsuit, heels, pearls, and a very long coat. The showrunners liked this bold, vivid model of the character, and it became the principal essence of who Althea is. She’s colourful, fun, and sassy, and her dresses are an extension of herself! Though I like finding dressed up like Althea, I’m also just as pleased in jeans, sneakers, and an oversize sweater. I am far more of a costume-for-consolation kind of particular person, which is why I love living vicariously through Althea’s wardrobe on-monitor.
Over and above the collection and the crimson carpet, what position has style played in your daily lifetime?
I think fashion has this lovely way of bringing people today alongside one another. I will in no way overlook that when I was in elementary faculty. My ideal close friend and I would phone each and every other every night and discuss what we would use the upcoming working day. After a 7 days, we would match, and it was so lovable. Rapid ahead through adolescence and adulthood, my close friends and I even now love bonding over manner and outfit discussions. I am going to hardly ever get worn out of listening to “So what are you going to have on?” I like remaining thoughtful and creative in my attire choices, no make a difference what my day seems like.
What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
Even though tradition and diversity should normally be celebrated calendar year-round, I love this thirty day period since it will make me extra conscious and appreciative of the Asian American influences and ordeals in everyday life—the foodstuff, the lifestyle, the community, and specially style. I’m pulling out some of my favorite pieces to highlight and celebrate a few of my favored designers, makes, and smaller firms.
You had been sort plenty of to shoot some of your most loved pieces for us—can you make clear what you really like about them?
For my initial look, I wanted to put on a cozy knit sweater from Monse. The balloon sleeves are what bought me, and all I want to do is be all-around them at home all day. I’m a SoCal baby, so it’s taken some time for me to get utilised to operating a good deal in colder Vancouver, Canada. Residing there has created me respect at ease, oversize items that I can don, and this sweater is my go-to. And when I’m back in L.A., I adore putting on it to the pool!
I wished to emphasize these Monse parachute trousers for my second glimpse due to the fact they are so comfy and enjoyable! Often, I want to dress in pants out and you should not really feel like donning denims all the time. These are breezy and cozy, and my most loved part is the waistline. The drawstrings make it exciting to perform with, and I am obsessed with the pockets!
Can you see how substantially I really like Monse? For my third look, I needed to have on this Avocado Toast Sweater by Monse. What I love about this sweater (moreover the reality it would make me hungry) is that it truly is cozy more than enough to put on everywhere.
I preferred to use this pink cheongsam minidress for my fourth appear, as it’s a person of my most loved items in my closet. My grandparents have a retailer in Chinatown, Los Angeles, referred to as Phoenix Imports, and my grandma has often beloved giving me standard Chinese apparel in excess of the yrs. I’ve grow to be a lot more appreciative of these pieces and consider to dress in them as considerably as possible. It truly is enjoyable to play all over with these traditional objects and add my individuality and fashionable touches to them.
For my very last glimpse, I needed to don 1 of my favorite designers, Prabal Gurung. I am often drooling in excess of his eveningwear and robes and want anything for my closet. The initial thing that drew me to this costume was the flirty silhouette and how empowered it created me sense! It is formfitting, captivating, and colorful, and I adore floral patterns. From the neckline to the cutouts to the ruched hip line with prolonged bedazzled tassels, there are so numerous specifics in this costume that I fell in like with. I paired it with small accessories and barely-there sneakers simply because this gown steals the demonstrate.
How has your id knowledgeable how you method each component of your lifetime, from the assignments you decide on to be a aspect of to your clothing?
As a fourth-technology Chinese American, I continue to expand significantly appreciative and very pleased of my roots and culture. Even so, once I booked Kung Fu, I was quickly informed of how substantially affect a exhibit like this could have, not just AAPIs in enjoyment but also for the group. It can be a privilege to have this system, and I am generally searching for strategies to aid and highlight the AAPI community. My favorite section about performing this function is being aware of that anyone could study this and sense empowered, innovative, and encouraged to guidance and celebrate some excellent AAPI models and designers! Artwork is highly effective. In several methods, it has superpowers due to the fact it can make you come to feel seen, and if I am ready to make some others come to feel that via my do the job, then which is worth it.
What are some of your favored AAPI-owned manner manufacturers?
Prabal Gurung is a Nepalese American designer that I love for the reason that he works by using a lot of bright colours, bold silhouettes, and exceptional feminine aptitude that I won’t be able to get plenty of of.
I’ve been a enormous supporter of Sandy Liang’s do the job for a when now. Her get the job done not only has a ’90s sense, but Chinatown grandmothers originally inspired the brand, so it truly is a lovely homage to our heritage.
What is actually not to adore about Kim Shui? It is really colorful, captivating, and refined sheer garments.
I appreciate 3.1 Phillip Lim for the reason that of its simple-to-dress in, elevated, up to date clothing. It can be excellent for day to day put on.
Established by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, Monse is 1 of my favorite models simply because it is motivated by menswear and vintage tailoring with a deconstructed perspective.
A further brand name that I really like is Sau Lee. It truly is flirty cocktail attire with a twist on Chinese-influenced roots.
The Jewellery Edit is an on the net boutique highlighting Asian American and POC jewelry designers. It’s a terrific put to explore rising jewellery models.
Covry is an Asian American–, female-founded sun shades model that I like because it really is created to retain Asian faces in thoughts.
Popflex is functional, dimension-inclusive activewear created by Blogilates creator Cassey Ho. It’s my go-to for adorable exercise routine apparel.
Last but definitely not least, I really like the brand Kayu. It truly is ethical and sustainable add-ons from an AAPI-established brand—what’s far better than that?
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