Harry Shum Jr. Gets Real About AAPI In Hollywood & What’s Going On With That “Crazy Rich Asians” Sequel

Harry Shum Jr. Photo Credit: Holly Ave

On September 23rd, Hennessy X.O presents A Moonlight Odyssey, a digital livestream event to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. [The moon symbolizes reunion and unity.]  Blending cultural traditions with modern flare, Hennessy’s digital festival will bring together entertainment icons, renowned musicians, and culinary experts for captivating performances set under the light of a full moon. Actor Harry Shum Jr. of Glee and Crazy Rich Asians fame will host the event and lead viewers in a celebratory X.O toast to success, achievement, and community. Musician NIKI and singer-songwriter Hayley Kiyoko will co-headline with special performances. Filmmaker and
restaurateur Eddie Huang will gather with close friends for a lively, educational game of Mahjong, reflecting on the history and cultural influence. The event, which will celebrate the stories of AAPI icons and leaders who continue to explore untraversed paths and break barriers in their pursuit of greatness, inspiring enlightenment and success in their communities and beyond, will stream on Facebook Live at Facebook.com/Hennessy. Here, we chatted with the 39-year-old actor, dancer and singer about his upcoming hosting gig and his thoughts on Hollywood’s progress with the AAPI community.

Harry Shum Jr.Photo Credit: Emily Sandifer

Tell me about your upcoming work with Hennessy for their Mid-Autumn Festival virtual event, A Moonlight Odyssey.

I’ll be throwing on my finest suit and hosting the digital event with Hennessy X.O on Facebook Live. We will be celebrating and toasting to the stories of icons and leaders in the AAPI community. Pairing the night with some
captivating musical performances by Niki, Hayley Kiyoko, Guapdad 4000 and Bohan Phoenix and a special
educational Mahjong demo from Eddie Huang.

What is the meaning behind Mid-Autumn Festival and what does it symbolize for you?

The traditions for Mid-Autumn Festival have evolved over time but the origins were giving gratitude to the harvest
moon in Autumn, which was believed that the practice would bring plentiful harvest the following year. For me it is
a day to celebrate with family and friends where we can toast to everyone’s accomplishments and remind ourselves
how far we’ve come.

What are some of your favorite family traditions?

When I lived in San Francisco, it would mean our family would go to Chinatown and watch all the festivities, like fire
dragon dances, all the mooncakes I could eat and receive red envelopes when running into relatives and friends.
Then came the incredible food along with Mahjong tiles clanking throughout the reunion night filled with full
bellies, joy and laughter.

Who in your life has served as a role model for you growing up and inspired you to begin your career in dance, and later acting?

I honestly can’t really name just one. There are too many throughout the years that have served as a role model for
me in different ways. On the dance front, I loved digging into my inspirations, like Usher being inspired by Michael
Jackson who was inspired by Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse. But once I got into acting, I realized that it’s all
connected. It’s just a web of artists finding different forms of expressing themselves through telling stories that are
meaningful to them. For me, acting in its purest form, is combining all your life experiences in pursuit of constantly
challenging your own perspective with each role.

How do you feel about the progress that has been made in Hollywood, particularly amongst the AAPI community? What still needs to change?

I just look ten years back and happy to see how far we’ve come. So I look forward to the next ten in hopes that
Hollywood collectively can work together to keep opening doors for storytellers that have been sitting on the
sidelines for far too long.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I have a genre mashing indie (psychological thriller/ horror/mystery) Broadcast Signal Intrusion that I’m excited for
everyone to see coming out October 22nd in theaters and VOD. And speaking of genre mashing, I get to be in my
first Christmas rom-com with Jimmy O. Yang and Nina Dobrev titled Love Hard … coming out on Netflix on
November 5th.

Can you speak to you Crazy Rich Asians character and what’s coming up on that front? Has the film started shooting yet? Have you had conversations with Gemma Chan on how your characters will evolve in the second film?

This is the golden question that everyone wants answers to. I wish I had more to say but the answer is floating
around somewhere.

Are you still in touch with any of your Glee castmates? If so, who do you enjoy sitting around drinking cognac with the most and why?

Yes! Chord Overstreet for sure. The more drinks in, the more we will hear some excellent celebrity impressions from
him. He’s such a funny dude.

How do you enjoy Hennessy cognac?

Neat like the creases on my trousers.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Playing with my daughter uninterrupted! In our busy world, just being able to be present with anyone for a said time, is a gift itself.