Yes, welcome to Film News. Can you introduce yourself for our readers please?
I’m Ye Zhong, an actor, born and raised in southern China and now living in Los Angeles. I am fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. In China, I have a bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration. I used to work with children with special needs. But then I decided to pursue my acting dream, so I came to the United States. I was accepted into the Academy, the oldest acting school in the United States, to train full time. After graduating, I decided to get more theatrical experience, so I auditioned and was accepted for the Academy Company program. I was part of four plays in 7 months. And now I’m out of school and exploring my life as an active actor!
What brought you to play and made you realize that this was the path you had chosen?
This may sound silly. When I was 14, I watched The Pirates of the Caribbean, and I was obsessed with wanting to be part of that world. Later, I realized that the only way to do that was to become an actor. If I was an actor, I could live thousands of different lives! I dreamed of becoming an actress for more than 10 years. However, my parents disapproved of it, so growing up my life had nothing to do with acting. After graduating from college in China, I knew I had to give my dream a chance, so I signed up for the intensive program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and UCLA to see if acting was something I I could do. From these experiences, I realized that I wanted to do theater for the rest of my life, and after that, I never changed my mind.
How would you describe the projects you generally prefer?
I would like to do everything! People always ask me if I prefer to do theater or camera, and I always answer both. As a new actor, I can’t wait to try all kinds of projects. But currently, I’m the director of a theatrical production, which makes me miss the stage a lot. I hope I can work in a theater production soon!
Tell us about your latest project?
I participated in the Los Angeles 48 Hours Film Project this year with a group of friends from my theater school. Together we created a short film called “Bet!” It’s a comedy short about two men and a mysterious mission. It was a fun but challenging experience because we had never produced a film in such a short time.
What character did you play?
I played a supporting character, Ms. Fang. People thought she was just a nice lady who owned a Chinese restaurant, but in reality, she’s a mysterious key figure who pushes the whole story under the table. She is dangerous, just like her name. Fun fact, I named the character. I was asked to give my character a “badass” name, and the name “Ms. Fang” just crossed my mind. It’s a common name in Chinese but sounds dangerous in English, and everyone was thrilled with the name.
You are such a diverse actor. We read that you were part of four plays in 7 months. Can you tell us about each and the different roles you played?
From August 2021 to February 2022, I was Sandra Cook in The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, Older Molly in Jake’s Women by Neil Simon, Leeann in A Piece of My Heart by Shirley Lauro and Alice in Goodbye Freddy by Elizabeth Diggs. All the parts and all the roles are very diverse, which was quite difficult. I improved so much doing these 4 games. Of all the pieces, A Piece of My Heart is my favorite. I felt so much for my character Leeann and I’m so grateful to have been able to be her. I recommend everyone to read or watch the play.
Is there a particular moment in your career that you are most proud of?
I believe that was when I was chosen to be one of the finalists for the Warner Bros program. TV Actors in Training in 2021. Although I was not selected for the Top 10, according to the Warner Bros TV cast, “We have reviewed several thousand auditions from around the world. You are now part of a select group of actors who made it to the final round. As a finalist, you are always part of a select group of actors that we strive to nurture.” I had just graduated from my program at full time at the time, and then I was selected to audition for the program after I submitted my application. I never thought I could make it into the final round, and this experience definitely made me more confident in my acting.
What are your acting influences growing up that helped you become who you are today?
So many actors influence my acting, but I want to mention Johnny Depp. It was because of him that I had the idea of becoming an actor. All the characters he created are very diverse, and from these characters I saw endless possibilities and learned that there should be no limits to my imagination when creating my own character. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
If you weren’t an actor, what else would you do?
As I mentioned, I worked with children with special needs before coming to the United States to learn how to play. I think I would keep doing that for a while if I wasn’t playing. I really liked my job and people told me that I was pretty good at it. But I can also go back to school to pursue a master’s degree. I always know that one day I will enroll in a graduate program and get an advanced degree because I love doing research.
Finally, how can people find and follow your journey?
People can find me on Instagram as @yezhong_ where I share most of my professional journey. People can also search me on IMDB Ye Zhong and follow my career updates. Thanks a lot!