Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Booking commercials

So I recently had a couple of bookings that were exciting. First, I got a small role in a big movie that I can't really say anything more about. Second, I got a commercial. Which is great, because I haven't been in a commercial since I got cut out of the Apple one I booked when I first got out to Los Angeles. I don't know what it is, but something about my demeanor or look does not sell products. I had heard stories about how most actors make their living from booking commercials and a good one can carry you through the year. Booking an Apple commercial, I felt like I was pretty set. I forgot exactly how the news broke, but I remember pulling up the commercial on youtube and realizing that my whole segment was just cut out. That was almost four years ago and I had gotten close, but hadn't booked anything since then.

Cut to a few years later and I got an audition for a 7-Eleven commercial. The first audition I had to pretend to be a store clerk and be confused by someone else going crazy. Commercial auditions are generally really vague and they call in like a hundred people for the first round so I just did what I think they wanted and left and forgot about it. That's usually the best policy.

I was lucky enough to get a callback, which is when they narrow it down to about 8-10 people and when I went in they completely changed what the concept was. Now it was going to be a Deadpool tie in and I was watching as another co-worker played Jenga with a tower of chimichangas. Everyone there for the callback was freaking out and trying to desperately research the connection of chimichangas to 7-Eleven. I had enough sense to actually think about the connection to Deadpool and chimichangas. I'm fairly familiar with comic books and remembered that the character's favorite food is chimichangas and also knowing that Deadpool himself is very meta I decided to use that in my audition.

The director just wanted us to generally improvise and when the cameras rolled, the first thing I said was "So 7-Eleven is selling Chimichangas for Deadpool huh? Good on them for cashing in on that movie tie-in." and the director busted out laughing. He then said he couldn't have me say that in the commercial and told me to improvise something else and I just said some generic stuff about chimichangas. But I felt like I took an interesting risk and it seemed like it paid off. Sure enough, I found I got an avail which means you're in the final 2-3 and they want to make sure your schedule is clear for the shoot. I had gotten this a few times and it's my least favorite part of the process. I'd honestly rather just not know at all. Every year I get 3-4 avails only to be released and it doesn't feel any better to know that you were so close. After a few days my agent called and I was prepped for the bad news, but she actually said I booked it. I was ecstatic.

The shoot was a series of vignettes and I was kind of worried because that was what the Apple commercial was like and they just took my whole segment out. But I was in this segment where me and another guy stand on opposite sides of a giant chimichanga tower while we said some lines.  I felt like my place was pretty secure because they spent a lot of time making the tower and it was the most visually interesting thing in the commercial. I asked the props person and they said they actually made over 500 chimichangas and stacked them up (they were held together by skewers). Here's a pic of it below.

So now that I booked a commercial and filmed it I still had to worry about if they wouldn't air the commercial or if I got cut out. One day my friend posted a link to the commercial and said "I'm assuming you are in a different one?" I immediately clicked it and watched through and saw my scene. The chimichanga tower was in there, but instead of having the shot be the tower in the middle and me and another guy standing to the side of it, they just zoomed in on the other guy. My scene hadn't been cut out, but I had literally been.... cut out. I then emailed my agent to ask what was going on and they said they were holding out to see if I was in alternate cuts or anything. But sure enough, after a few days, I got a letter saying that I had been released from all iterations of that commercial.

So I'm 0 for 2 on commercials. People tell me I shouldn't complain and that I'll have to just settle with being a "movie star". But anyways.... I was close. I'm literally on the other side of that chimichanga tower, but I've yet to really book a commercial.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Doing Standup

     Whoa, I try to update my blog at least once a month. It's been slow at the top of this year though, but barely made it in time for April. So I wanted to share this video of me doing standup. People have always told me that they could see me doing standup because I have a very particular opinion and a voice to tell it. For the longest time I was intrigued by the idea of doing standup, but never actually worked up the courage to do it. About two years ago, I went to my friend Johnny Pemberton's show, who I had worked with on the Jump Street movies, and I realized the power of doing standup. For a few minutes, you put yourself on stage and really give people a very intimate portrait of who you are and I felt like that was really cool and valuable. So me and my friend Dante vowed that we would do a standup set within a 3 month period.

     We regularly went to open mics a few times a week to see what it was like and I built up a lot of confidence from it and started working on what my first standup set would be. After maybe a month or two I finally decided that it was time for me to put my name into the open mic lottery. I went to multiple shows though and didn't get called and finally on the 4th or 5th open mic where I was ready and willing to go up I got called and did my three minutes and realized... it wasn't for me. It was fun, but it was such a struggle to just get one set done and I had heard from people that in order to really get into standup I had to be doing multiple sets a night. I decided that I may as well not take on another struggle so I hung up my standup aspirations.

     Cut to a few months ago... I went to a show down the street from my apartment on a whim that my friend Teresa Lee was hosting. It was a show that was build around the idea of artists doing something on stage for the first time. It was an interesting concept. After the show, I went up and talked to her and she said if I ever wanted to go up to just let her know. I was kind of afraid to take up the mantle again, but I decided to just go for it. I performed this in January and I'm only just now posting it. My roommate Phil recorded it, but I only got the recording a few weeks ago and I only just now viewed it for the first time and uploaded it. I was kind of afraid to watch it. I always thought I wouldn't really get stage fright, but I remember it not going so smoothly and I think it kind of shows here. I really stumble through even my planned bits at the end. But, I think it's worth seeing and hopefully you'll get a laugh out of it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Podcast with Southern Fried Asian and Counterpart

Hmmm, I thought I made a post for being on this podcast, but apparently I forgot as well as just generally updating this blog at all (whoops).

So I was introduced to Keith Chow by Jes Vu, a producer I regularly work with. He runs a podcast that focuses on Asians who are from the South. Since it was the first podcast I've been on that wasn't focused on the entertainment industry I got to talk about the other big part of my life. Specifically food. Being a Southern Asian is one of the things that is a big part of who I am and helps me stand out. I thought it was a great interview, so go to the link below and check it out. It's a good one.

I also wanted to come back to talk about the most recent TV role that I filmed. It was for the Starz show Counterpart. It recently started airing even though I shot it around this time last year. It was supposed to be a big show and is apparently getting good reviews. I knew I was in episode four, but didn't think much of it. It wasn't until today that I even thought to check. I went on my IMDB however, and realized that it had been taken off of my page. That's never happened before so I went to watch the episode and sure enough I found that my whole scene was cut exactly at the point where I leave the room.

It wasn't a huge part by any means, but this does mark the first time that I've just been completely cut out of something. Pretty much every other role that I've done has been reduced by a moderate to significant amount, but at least I got to see myself and I got the credit. Not this time. Honestly, it's not a big deal. I thought this part would stay in because my character says a lot of information that I thought was necessary. But as an editor, if something isn't necessary it gets cut out. In case that was me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview and shorts on Chopso as well as another Zine

Forgot to make a November update. I was caught up being back in my hometown. The year is starting to wrap up. It was a bit slow in the latter half. I did get asked to put a few of my shorts on Chopso, which is a Netflix like service for Asian American content. They interviewed me as well and I was pretty happy with out it came out. Here is an excerpt below, but if you want to check the rest of it out click this link.

C: Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I was originally a computer engineering major. My freshman year of college was at Louisiana State University in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. School was cancelled for two weeks, a tree landed on my car, and I had some time for self-reflection. I had just had a terrible first semester and I remember sitting in my Physics 101 class and wanting to just gouge my eyes out, thinking about hanging out with the same people from high school, playing more World of Warcraft, and taking 3.5 more years of classes I didn’t enjoy. It was that moment when I realized that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t have a childhood dream of making movies, but I knew I enjoyed storytelling, so I decided to switch my major to film and attend University of New Orleans, the only film school in the state. My parents weren’t super happy with it.

I was also asked to submit another article on the story time zine. This issue focused on self discovery so I wrote about my thoughts on how people perceived the roles that I had gotten since getting into the acting biz. Here it is below.

Walking Stereotype

      I was at the Q&A for the Asian American International Film Festival in New York for my feature film Steve Chong finds out that Suicide is a Bad Idea. I was one of the leads in the movie and had written the story with some friends from film school. It was a sold out screening and the audience reception was amazing. I was riding high, answering questions and getting praise from the audience. Then one Asian guy raised his hand and said, “you know, throughout this week I’ve seen movies with a broad range of Asian characters that defy stereotypes. Do you find it problematic that you played the awkward, shy Asian nerd who never gets laid, which is basically reinforcing a negative stereotype?” I was caught by surprise. Here I was thinking that I was taking a positive step forward by making a movie with an Asian character as a lead, only to be told that I was bringing us back a few steps. I hadn’t even thought of my character in that context. This was the first time I learned about the torch I had to bear as an Asian person working in the film industry.

     I would say that with almost every major role that I’ve played I’ve had someone say, either to me or about me online, that they felt that by me taking the role I was doing “our people” some kind of injustice. For 21 Jump Street I played a character named Roman, who was part of a group of nerds who liked science and technology and were kind of dorky. I’m good at science and technology and am kind of dorky so I didn’t think much of it when I was cast for the role. It turned out that the role was originally even written for a black guy, and I was the only Asian who went in for the callback audition. I had a lot of fun on that set and the experience was the launching point for my acting career. After the movie came out,some people called my character a walking stereotype. One of my cousins approached me at a wedding to tell me that I should be more cognizant of the roles that I take on in the future. On the other hand, I remember talking to one of the directors of the movie and he told me that he cast me because I was the only one who came into the audition who played a “nerdy” character with confidence. Everyone else played it like a stereotypically meek version. It’s still a role I’m proud of.

     For The Big Short, I play a character from China who acts like he doesn’t know English, but then breaks the fourth wall to let the audience know, in a perfect American accent, that not knowing English is a facade to make his math skills more credible. To me, the rolet was interesting and kind of ironic because I personally don’t even know how to speak any form of Chinese language fluently, so it was cool to kind of play into the stereotype, but then turn it on its head. Recently, someone on Twitter told me that they stopped watching the movie right after seeing my part. Another person I talked to at a film festival party told me that seeing that portion of the film made them uncomfortable. That I was the butt of a racist joke and that people were meant to laugh at me than with me.

     It’s a unique perspective I am forced to confront every time I audition for a role. Apparently the characters that I’m most right for are the ones that people consider negative stereotypes. It’s not that I’m blind to the fact that there are problematic aspects to the way I’m being portrayed in mainstream media, but I feel like I’m able to improve on those written roles by making them more real. I have had to accept the fact that there will be people who will still only concentrate on the negative.

     Going back to the Q&A for Steve Chong, I responded to the question by saying, “we didn’t make this movie with race in mind at all. I was literally just playing myself on screen. So if what you saw was a negative stereotype, then I guess I’m a negative stereotype.” He sat back down seemingly dissatisfied with the answer. After the screening, he came up apologized and said that he now felt like it was problematic that he even asked the question in the first place. If the character of Steve Chong needed to be a shy, awkward dude who doesn’t get laid because Stanley is also a shy, awkward dude who doesn’t get laid then that’s cool. I figure if that guy can accept for me who I am, then I sure as hell should too. But ultimately, I hope that it doesn’t ever have to be asked in the first place.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Youtube Milestone and other updates

Recently got back from a trip to Europe. Lately I've been getting into international travel with a small group of friends. For the most part we just eat. Last year, it was Tokyo and this year we decided to go for Europe and knock out London and Paris. For those interested, it's mostly logged on my instagram account and it starts with this post below.

A post shared by Stanley Wong (@swong37) on

I've otherwise been writing a lot lately. Have been working on the same short for a long time, but have also recently finished writing a pilot and a feature film. I also recently got accepted as a writer for the 2018 CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase. Been having trouble acclimating myself into writing for that CBS showcase though, so we will see how that will develop. Otherwise, just been working the grind. Holidays are coming up and it starts to slow down then. Hopefully I can get another short made before the end of the year. Writing is rewarding in itself, but I find myself missing the accomplishment of finishing a film of my own.

 Also, this is crazy. I recently checked out my youtube page and saw that I have had over 10 million views logged. Over 99% of the views are from the Pac-Man viral video I made over 10 years ago now. I really wish some of my more recent works would have caught on, but it's fine. 10,000,000.... damn.

A post shared by Stanley Wong (@swong37) on

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Zine Article and other stuff

Little late on the update. Been mostly busy and nothing huge to update on. A lot of writing has been happening. Just finished writing drafts for my next short, finished up a TV pilot, working on a feature, and recently got accepted as a writer for the CBS Sketch Diversity Showcase.

I also recently got asked to write something for my friend Lianne's zine. I never wrote for a zine before. I'm still not even 100% sure what a zine is, but it was cool to be asked so I accepted. The theme for the issue was Los Angeles and I wanted to write something unique. I was suggested to do a list so I decided my topic would be comparing LA the state to L.A. the city. I have it posted below.

LA vs L.A.
By Stanley Wong
I find myself in a very particular case when it comes to people using abbreviations for places that involve the letters L and A. I was born and raised in Louisiana (LA), but I moved to Los Angeles (L.A.) about four years ago to LIVE THE DREAM. A lot of the time in writing people ask a question about LA/L.A. and I have to follow up with “Do you mean Los Angeles or Louisiana?” On both ends, I have people telling me “Well of course I meant L.A/LA, you dingus.” But how the hell was I supposed to know? A lot of people from Los Angeles have gotten lazy and stopped using the two periods and I guess people in Louisiana just never think about Los Angeles at all (which might explain why no one ever comes to visit me). Anyways, I just wanted to start this piece with that bit in hopes that people stop calling me a dingus.
Parking – In my first four months of living in Los Angeles I got eight parking tickets. I haven't gotten a parking ticket in a long time lately and it's because I learned one simple thing. PARKING SIGNS MATTER. In Louisiana, you can straight up look at a NO PARKING sign and what it actually means is WELL I'M NOT SAYING YOU CAN PARK HERE, BUT YOU CAN PROBABLY PARK HERE. Literally every thing you can get a ticket for I had to find out the hard way in Los Angeles. You actually have to pay the meters the amount of time you park there? Yes. The street cleaning is actually a real thing? Yes. When it says two hours parking they actually know that your car has been there for longer than two hours? This one really blew my mind, but yes. So learn from my pain and trust the signs. They will not mislead you. They mean what they say.
Weather – Los Angeles is known for its weather. I can wear a pair of jeans, T-Shirt, and a hoodie all year round and I'd be perfectly fine. Louisiana is also known for its weather. I can wear a pair of jeans, T-Shirt, and a hoodie for like 4 months out of the year and every other time and I would probably just die. I've gotten soft. I've been in L.A. long enough now that when I go anywhere else and experience anything below 60 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit I think the world is ending. I went back to Louisiana for the summer once since moving and I felt like my face was melting. I asked my friends and family if there was record breaking heat that year and they said no. In fact, it was cooler than normal. The weather is so goddamn nice in Los Angeles that when it rains, people lose their fucking minds out here whereas in Louisiana there can be a category five hurricane headed straight for you and people won't even think about moving. I was there for that shit. It was nuts.
Food – My favorite culinary discovery in Los Angeles has got to be the taco truck taco. There just isn't anything quite like it and there's nothing I've found that's more satisfying at 2 AM when nothing else is open. In Louisiana, the closest thing you can get is Taco Bell. Not only as just a late night nothing else is open and this is my last resort type of food. Taco Bell is actually a pretty decent option there when it comes to just Mexican cuisine in general. I know that Louisiana is known for its food, but it wasn't until I lived in Los Angeles for a few years that I realized that it's ONLY known for its signature Cajun/Creole food and nothing else. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing. But Los Angeles has actually been called the city with the best ethnic food in the world. Pretty bold claim, but I believe it. My taste palate has also been completely ruined because of Louisiana. Almost any time that I eat seafood anywhere else I think “This is ok.... but it would probably be better with a fistful of cajun seasonings, a sauce made out of an entire stick of butter, and being fried to hell.” But even despite Los Angeles’ completely availability of amazing authentic Mexican food, I've still eaten Taco Bell out here a few times. Old habits die hard.
Asians – The first thing I did when I arrived in Los Angeles after a four day drive from Louisiana was go to the Westfield Mall in Century City to eat. After five seconds of walking around I looked around and screamed “HOLY SHIT THERE ARE A LOT OF ASIANS HERE!” Growing up in the deep south there weren't a lot of Asian people. I did a high school senior prank where we threw boxes of crickets in the hallways and I opted to wear a mask even though that calls a lot of attention to itself. But, I did it because literally the only thing someone would have to say to identify me is that they saw an Asian dude with glasses. I was the only one in my entire school. Would that shit fly in Los Angeles? No, you can probably find just as many actors/actresses as you could Asian dudes with glasses. So it was at that moment I had the epiphany that I wouldn't be alone anymore. I wouldn't be “the Asian kid” in all the social circles. It was an interesting feeling. That's all I have to say about that.

She also drew this cool picture of me and added it into the book. Fan art!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Music Video and other updates

July has been a busy month. Every year I go to Evolution (A Street Fighter Tournament) and San Diego Comic Con, which takes up two weekends. This year I also tacked on a New York trip. The month isn't over yet so maybe there's time to do something else, but I'm honestly kind of exhausted. I had some huge auditions that happened as well, so I'm really excited to see what happens with those. As always I'm also writing. Currently have two shorts, a pilot, and a feature in the works. Wish I had something closer to production, but it's tough.

So a few months ago, I was contacted on facebook and asked to be in a music video. It was from a director I had never met and for an artist I had never heard of. It was a paying gig though and it would require me belting out on karaoke, which I would have done for free. Not everyone knows, but I'm a karaoke enthusiast. I really let out when it comes to Karaoke even though I'll shy away from doing almost anything dance related. I actually list karaoke as one of my very few performance skills on my acting resume. Funny enough, apparently the director told me that he cast me based on my performance in The Big Short and Hand Fart, which don't really give any indication that I would be good at karaoke at all. But good on him for recognizing my potential?

The music video was recently released. It has a press release on Teen Vogue. Never thought that anything I would be in would be featured on Teen Vogue, but there's a first for everything!

Here's the link to the video itself.