Ian Chen is a star on the rise. At just 12 years old, Chen is turning heads in his portrayal of Evan Huang on the hit ABC Sitcom Fresh Off the Boat. He can also be seen in the DC Comics film Shazam! where he portrayed Eugene Choi, as well as A Dog’s Journey as young Trent, both of which were released this year. Chen is among the growing faces of Asian American actors making a positive difference in the way they are portrayed in the media. We chatted with Chen to discuss his mega-hit show Fresh Off the Boat, how he feels about representing a positive change for Asian actors, as well as his love for airplanes and flying.
Cliché: First off, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to answer our questions. We really appreciate it!
Ian Chen: No problem at all!
Congratulations on all of the success so far in your career. At such a young age, you’ve accomplished so much. How do you feel about that? You must be really proud!
Haha, yeah, sure!
Tell me about life at home. You have a younger brother named Max. What do you guys like to do together? What kinds of things do you have in common? Do you two have different interests and hobbies?
We love to play outside together. Max loves to draw and I love to play baseball.
So you have decided to become an actor. Has Max decided what he wants to be when he grows up?
It’s up to him to decide.
I also heard you want to become an airplane pilot when you are older. What inspired you to pursue that in the future?
Aviation was something that really caught my eye when I was younger, seeing planes fly above me or looking out the window of an airplane.
You started your career off guest-starring in Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy, which are two very successful shows. Tell me about those experiences?
Actually, the funny thing is, I didn’t guest-star in Modern Family, I was in the background. But then again, that experience really motivated me to continue this path and hopefully be like one of the stars on Modern Family!
Currently, you are a series lead on Fresh Off the Boat, which has just been renewed for a 6th season! Congratulations! You play Evan Huang, the youngest son of Louis and Jessica. What do you like most about playing Evan? How do you identify with him?
I think Evan and I have way more differences than similarities. He’s more attached to his mom and really upright. It’ll be really interesting to see him go into his teenage years.
What kinds of storylines are you hoping to play on Fresh Off the Boat as Evan?
I’m hoping to see a bigger difference between his younger years and now his teenage years, maybe we’ll see him be less reliant on his parents, etc.
You also starred in Shazam! as Eugene Choi. So many people aspire to act in a superhero movie, and you have gotten to do it at age 12! What was that experience like? Were there any moments while on set that stand out to you the most?
Shazam! was actually my first feature film, and it was an amazing experience. It was great working with the cast and crew, we had so many fun adventures together (sleepovers, a trip to a maple leaf farm, etc.)
Your latest film, A Dog’s Journey has you starring as young Trent, the love interest of CJ. Why do you want people to see this film and what do you think makes it different from other dog films?
I think that A Dog’s Journey stands out because there are many twists and turns that it make so lovable and funny.
Aside from acting, you also sing, play piano, and guitar. Which artists do you enjoy listening to on a regular basis? Would you like to pursue music sometime in the future?
I like to keep an open mind to different songs and stuff, I like to check out the top billboard charts to see what’s popping. I have no idea. It really isn’t one of my biggest interests, but maybe!
What other television shows do you like watching?
One of my favorites is Designated Survivor, I also love watching Kim’s Convenience! (Conveniently, both on Netflix!)
How does it feel to be a part of the growing equal representation of Asian Americans on television and film in starring roles?
It feels great to be apart of a “mission” to open the flood gates to more diverse cultures on television and create more roles and jobs for them.
What are some dream roles you would like to play?
Again, going back to my aviation interest. I think it would be cool to play a pilot on the big screen, like Tom Hanks in “Sully.”
To stay up to date on all things Ian Chen, be sure to follow him on both Instagram and Twitter @TheIanChen.
Actor Ian Chen on Fresh Off the Boat, Asian Representation, and Flying: Featured Image Credit: Kelly Balch