Quadruple Threats: Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, Ashley Park… and Winnie Wang!

article by Jen Bush

Many parents find it disappointing or upsetting when their child decides to pursue a career in the arts.  For Winnie Wang she got all the support she could ever hope for because both of her parents are in the arts too!  The apple didn’t fall far from the tree for this talented performer.  It wasn’t just her parents alone who cultivated her artistic nature.  The school system in Taiwan where Ms. Wang grew up offered a multitude of classes in the performing arts.  “I am Winnie Wang from Taipei, Taiwan. I fell in love with performing art when I was in kindergarten. We had dancing class, piano, violin class…. etc.  Growing up in my family with my parents who are both in the industry of art, they are fully supporting me. I’ve taken singing, and dancing classes outside of school and been in the clubs in school. Not until one day in middle school, I was given the opportunity to audition for a film for a student role and was lucky enough to book the role. I had never been trained in acting before that, so everything was so novel to me.”  Ms. Wang finds acting to be an exhilarating experience.  She enjoys the creative process, the emotion it brings out of her and the collaboration with her fellow performers.  “We spend a week rehearsing and finally get to shoot, and in that entire experience, I have that thought in my head every day when I spend time with other actors, I feel so alive. I remember every moment of the scene but at the same time I don’t, I just feel my emotions and lived. I feel so connected to the character and enjoy working with other people and creating something with these talented people from cast to crew. From that experience, my first role, I knew I want to be an actor!”  

Ms. Wang’s wonderful parents encouraged her to flourish outside of her home country.  She started as an exchange student in Wisconsin and ended up in the acting capitals of the world, New York, and Los Angeles.  Each location was an excellent learning experience and afforded Ms. Wang the opportunity to grow and hone her craft.  “After my first role, I decided that I want to go to this performing art high school in Taiwan, so I did. And because my parents wanted me to see the world outside of Taiwan after I graduated high school, I started the process of being an exchange student. I wanted to come to the US because from all the movies and shows I’ve watched, Hollywood is such a dream to me, so I’ve decided I wanted to come to the US. I ended up going to Wisconsin because when the organization shows me the few options I can choose to stay, I thought this is close to Chicago, without knowing anything, I made the decision and realized it was five hours away from Chicago, which is not that far but not that close at the same time. So I always tell people this joke when their first thought was,” Wisconsin ? Why?”.  In that year, I was in the school play and was a part of the musical theater club. Being in Wisconsin makes me realize maybe it won’t be a bad idea if I study college in the US, I made friends who are still my best friends to this day, and I loved my host families who are so giving and loving. Most importantly, I wanted to go to NYC and I want to study acting. After talking to my parents,  I decided to apply for New York Film Academy, I then start the journey in NYC and then transfer to the LA campus because that’s where Hollywood is, and also to finish my BFA acting for a film degree.”

Ms. Wang recognizes that all performing arts are intertwined in some way.  As an artist of many talents, she seeks inspiration from artists of the same ilk.  “As someone who enjoys performing arts so much, I look up to artists who are just so talented and natural. Even though acting, singing, dancing, and modeling are in four different categories, I think they are all connected. When performer works in these four fields, we are using our emotion in relation to our body, and bring out what is needed in the giving situation. There are so many artists who have a successful career as a quadruple threat, such as lady gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, and Ashley Park. They are all quadruple threats that represent different ethnicities. Seeing their work gives me even more certainty that I want to do what I love to do, while admiring their work, I want to bring what I love to people who also enjoy performing arts!”

For Ms. Wang, music is a transformative and infiltrates every part of her creative process.  “I love listening to music, I listen to music while I’m driving, working out, working, and really, just anytime. I like to listen to different music in different moods, I think music is giving so many emotions and relations. When I’m doing emotion preparation on set, I would put on my AirPods and listen to songs that can bring out the emotion I need for the scene, also in different characters I would choose a favorite song for them so I can listen to it and be the character. When I am doing modeling work, sometimes photographer asks what music I prefer, and I really appreciate that, I love to listen to music that infects the atmosphere and have my physicality follows the beats. Music also calms me down, it helps me to focus on what’s in front of me.” 

When the pandemic hit, most aspects of life came to a screeching halt, especially in the performing arts.  The personal pivoted to the virtual.  It also changed the landscape of auditioning. Ms. Wang found it challenging to connect with her fellow actors on an emotional level through a screen but she prevailed.   “I was still in school when the pandemic first hit, some shoots got canceled due to the covid parodical, and for some shoots we have to be 6 ft apart from our scene partner. Everything moved online, even the play production class was performed on zoom. It felt really different because we cannot feel the other actor’s energy in the same room anymore. I still interact with my scene partner but just felt so disconnected at the same time. And we also have to be aware of the frame on zoom, which is a good thing considering we need to be aware of what we do in a different frame. On the other hand, we got to play around the distance from ourselves to the laptop in order to make the scene more interesting. Auditions are different too, now it’s mostly self-tape auditions, it’s good that we get to do multiple takes until the one we like is to send into the castings, but also we lose the opportunity to “be ourselves “ and communicate with people in the audition rooms.”

Ms. Wang has no plans to slow down.  She is giving equal attention to all her areas of expertise to keep them sharp.  There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon for her.  “As a working actor, keep on auditioning!!! Keep putting in hard work in all the skill sets. Meanwhile, I’m in discussions with the director I worked with on my first feature film project. There will be a new production start planning either end of this year or next year! Hopefully, things land soon!”

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