Tell us about the character you play, and how can you relate to him/her. Is there any part of Chess that resonates with you as an actor, or personally?
Freddie Trumper is the 3-time World Chess Grandmaster from the USA. He has revitalized the game of chess and has brought it into the forefront of news and media due to his bad boy attitude and hot temper. Although he is in an intimate relationship, he has trust and abandonment issues that causes him to have a loner mentality. Freddie and I are pretty similar in that regard in that I usually try to tackle problems by myself and try not to bother others with my issues.
What challenges, if any, have you faced with playing your character?
It’s been interesting tackling a character like Freddie. As an actor you are constantly asking yourself “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” What I strive to do in this production of Chess is to ground Freddie’s temper into a real emotional base because I didn’t want to play him angry all the time. I also wanted to explore the side of Freddie that Florence fell in love with. I mean, there’s a reason she’s been with him for 7 years.
What distinguishes this production or role you have compared to other characters you’ve played in the past?
Freddie Trumper is possibly the most emotionally complex character I’ve ever had the privilege to play. It’s also the most vocally challenging (at least the way that I sing it).
What made you want to pursue acting?
Coming from a Filipino household, there was always music around. My parents were big Nat King Cole fans and they’d have me sing their favorite songs of his. It wasn’t until I was in a 6th grade production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore” playing Captain Corcoran that I caught the acting bug. It was my first real show. I always felt comfortable and at home on the stage.
Have you ever faced adversity in your career, and if so, how?
Adversity? Ha! That’s a loaded question especially considering all of the discussions out there about casting Asian actors. But let me redirect that. I’ve made a lot of choices about my career that center around my children. I’ve never auditioned for a cruise ship and wasn’t interested in doing a long running tour because I wanted to be close to my sons. Would I have had a better career had I allowed myself to do those kinds of things? I really don’t care. I love my kids.
Any advice you’d give to actors just starting out?
I like to say this to any new/young actor who cares to listen: At the root of all acting is truth, so be true to who you are. Be the best “you” you can be.
What’s in store for you after CHESS?
After Chess, I’ll be jumping right into rehearsals as the Piragua Guy in the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of In The Heights. I think I’ll be the first Asian to play that part. I’ll have to check into that.
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