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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Actress Sherry Shaoling Interview (Exclusive!)


To label Sherry Shaoling as just an actress is limiting. Even though she stands out as one of the forceful bad girl "Lee Sisters" in Kantz's recent post apocalyptic Wasteland, Sherry has multiple skills, singing, dancing, martial arts, business owner, and now she even has her real estate license! Sherry's clear speaking voice, kind heart, relaxed personality, coupled with her zest for life and desire for new experiences make her a welcome addition to any film or TV project. Enough of my rambling on, time for Sherry to share her story on Dan's Movie Report.

How about a bit of background info, were you always athletic?

No, I was never athletic! In fact I was very un-athletic; I was the last one to get picked for teams at school. I hated running, playing any games involving a ball and especially gymnastics. I was skinny and uncoordinated, awkward and klutzy with no cardio stamina, and thought of myself as way more of an intellectual than physical person. I played the piano and violin and got good grades. Fortunately I lived in Hawaii and my school had After School PE where I took weight training, Aikido and hula instead of dreaded organized sports! I did however, study Ballet from age 5 through college, and I've always loved swimming in the ocean so that was my physical activity.

Ironically I've become more athletic now that I'm older...since moving to LA, I began Spinning, Running, Yoga, and of course, Kungfu, which I love. And I am training to do a half-marathon in October! Still no organized sports, though!

How did you get started with martial arts? What different disciplines do you practice?

Let me say I am more of a fan than a practitioner! I grew up watching Kungfu movies and my heroes were Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. I still love watching Chinese action movies, and that is how I got inspired to try martial arts.

I took some Kungfu when I was a kid; I mostly sat on the horse for ages, and I also learned a little Wing Chun. When I was older I took some Jeet Kune Do classes from Burton Richardson in Honolulu and also some Western Boxing during which I almost passed out several times--that shit is tough!

When I moved to LA I became involved in productions which required martial arts skills. I was attached to the indie film "The Wasteland" and when the director, Kantz asked me what style I'd like to do my fight scene in I said "Wushu!" So I began training in that. I worked with Johnny Yang, Kerry Wong, Sal Perales, and veteran stuntman Sammy Le (Iron Man 3, The Expendables 1 and 2, The Amazing Spiderman, etc. etc.).

Shortly afterward I attended an audition for a film that would be starring, little did I know then, my future husband, Xiaojun Wang. He is a Master in Shaolin Kungfu who spent his life studying at the Shaolin Temple in China, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for over 10 years. He has been featured on National Geographic's "Fight Science," Qigong Tested, and Spike TV's "Deadliest Warrior-Shaolin vs. Maori." When I met him, he began training me in Shaolin Kungfu. I still think of myself as a mere student.

Ever have to use your knowledge in Martial Arts to defend yourself? If so share the story.

Thankfully, no! But I often daydream about what I might do! And it is craazy!!

And, knock on wood, I will never have to. 

Talk a bit about your Martial Arts Dojo, how did the idea come about?

It was a no-brainer! XJ had been doing work for TV and commercials, but not having had a background in "the industry," he was uncomfortable with having to wait in between jobs for the next gig to come along and wanted to have a more stable source of income.

He could have gotten a regular nine-to-fiver, but I declared it would be a crime to squander 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for over 10 years of training which most people, especially in America, can never attain because they live normal lives. He has more talent and ability than most people have in their little finger.

And so we decided to open the school, Jin Wu Kungfu, in LA's historic Chinatown. You can check it out at jinwukungfu.com; it is the next best thing to flying to China to study at the Shaolin Temple. All of our instructors have trained their whole lives in China.

You have your feet in many areas, how did you start with singing, maybe share a funny story from your foray into being a songstress.

I never dreamed of becoming a singer or actor! These things just kind of happened...and my high school classmates are all kind of taken aback because I was so shy and introverted; basically I was a huge nerdy geek. I studied Biology in college and after graduation worked as a high school Algebra teacher and then as a Research Assistant for a Genetics Lab. 

I then decided to become a Flight Attendant because I could speak Chinese and I love to travel. I'm a fourth-generation Chinese-American, so my parents don't speak a word of Chinese, but I learned it on my own in school and did two study abroad programs in both China and Taiwan. I was a flight attendant based in Hong Kong. To this day, people still tell me I speak great English (!!!) but I think they should be more impressed that I can speak Chinese. I'm like a haole (haole = Caucasian in Hawaiian) who learned Chinese, LOL.

After a few years of traveling the world I decided to have a more stable lifestyle and came back to Hawaii to go back to college. For fun I took a class in Vocal Technique and as a fluke one day entered a singing contest to win $2500. I ended up winning, but then found out that in order to get the money I had to enter into a Music degree program. So of course I did, I wanted the money, haha! Once I began to study singing, people would ask me to perform for various functions and that's how I got involved in both the opera and musical theatre. 

I ended up not completing the degree because I was working so much as a singer, singing at weddings (weddings are big in Hawaii!), church, Jazz lounges, and the Royal Hawaiian Band. Being in opera and musical theatre led to my interest in acting.

Do you plan to record more tunes, or are you just  too busy right now?

I would love to record more, I feel very natural and comfortable in the studio. 

Now the big question, what made you decide you wanted to go into acting?

I got into acting through my work as a singer in musical theatre and opera. In those arenas you are most definitely acting, just in a bigger, more drawn out way. 

Casting Directors and agents for film, TV and commercial work would see me or hear about me from Directors I would work with in theatre and contact me to come in for auditions.

I had my first major audition that way; I was scouted for "Memoirs of a Geisha" and mailed in taped auditions for it from Hawaii. I made it through two callbacks and the last step was that they were going to fly me out to LA to audition in person but it never went that far.

I took the opportunity to actually move to LA when my boyfriend at the time decided to move out here and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming an actor.

Six months later we broke up; he ended up moving back to Hawaii and I ended up staying! 
 Chatting about your recent film Wasteland, looked like a real hot time in the desert. Ha! share a story that is unusual from that shoot.

That was a great shoot, crazy but fun and I have made lifelong friends from that experience. 

It was a very low-budget production so we had a passenger van in the desert with no shelter or bathrooms! 

We were fighting on the desert ground; there were no niceties like a "clean ground" so we were landing in tumbleweeds, rocks, thorns, and broken glass!

One day I decided to bring my dog, Sanya, who is a long-haired Pekingnese, to the desert. She was my beloved companion and I didn't want to leave her alone at home for so many hours because our shoot days could be up to 17 hours long or more. I didn't realize that there were so many weeds and burrs out in the desert! Within a few minutes of roaming around the poor thing was covered in spiny burrs and then I spent a long time picking them out of her long fur! :(

How long did your shoot take on Wasteland?

Oh, it took years! We had about a week of actual shoot dates and then went back to the desert a few times over the course of a few years to get new shots. Some of the Lee Sisters would get re-cast and we'd have to go back and shoot with different cast members!!

How is Wasteland  Kantz as a director to work with? Maybe share an entertaining Kantz Story?

I love Kantz! He thinks way outside the box and best of all GIVES opportunities to UNKNOWN and ETHNICALLY under-represented people!! He is also dedicated and willing to WORK!! He spent hours and years training us un-trained actors in martial arts for no apparent gain, because he believed in us! That is AMAZING, I don't know of anyone else out here who would do that. He also is very savvy and will always be brutally honest with you. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. 

He has the best one-liners! I wish I kept a diary of them on set.

One thing he said that will always stick with me: "Be shiny! Glow in the dark!" I love that and strive to always show up!

How about recent film or TV work, any recent jobs set up?.

I am so excited because I have the amazing opportunity and privilege to be performing in a concert with Don Tiki at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA on December 20th!

Contrary to popular belief, this venue is NOT Disneyland! This is arguably the best hall in the nation acoustically and also aesthetically. I am beyond the moon to be performing there! 

Don Tiki is a Hawaii-based exotica band that LOVE more than words could say!! They are fun and fabulous and super kooky! 

I am hard at work in "pre-production" for this gig! Prepping costumes, songs, and choreography!

Tickets go on sale to the public in September, you can check it out at laphil.com!

Check out a bit of the Don Tiki show on youtube @  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wityiIlekx8

Now you can add real-estate agent to your grown list of jobs, what made you decide to become one, was it your outgoing relaxed personality?

Haha, no, as with most things in my career life, it found me. I never dreamed of becoming or ever wanted to become a realtor! 

My husband is from China, and has a friend from China who wanted to buy a home. He didn't know anyone else here except for us so he asked us to help him. I got my license specifically to help him purchase a home!

The funny thing is, I took the course all in Chinese from a Chinese teacher! Now that blew my mind, literally because my Chinese is not the Chinese of a native speaker.

But now that I did it, other people and friends have approached me to help them to purchase property, which is very cool since like I said I don't really "pursue" it.

I've noticed in my life that if I am open to new opportunities and adventures, things sort of "come to me."

Speaking of new opportunities, what charities do you support? (List them and websites)

One of my best friends started a charity to support other charities called AIM, Artists In Motion, so every once in a while I'll volunteer to do activities with them.

artistsinmotionla.org

What are some of you long term goals, do you want to get back into acting? How about producing films or TV shows?

I was never the kind of person who could see where I wanted to be in 5, 10, 20 years. At any given moment I am just striving to do the right thing, to be happy, to manage the many things that come up in my life.

Do I want to "get back into acting?" I don't feel I've ever "gotten out of it" per se. My agent's agency went defunct for the past several months and when that happened, I mostly stopped auditioning since getting good auditions is difficult without an agent, but I never really totally stopped working on my craft. In the meantime I did a comedic webisode, a table-read for a feature film, studied with my coach, took a voice-over course, and am studying stand-up comedy. Being an actor in Hollywood can sometimes mean not "working," but it never really means you stop being an actor.

When my agency went defunct, I didn't try to get a new agent because I didn't feel like going through that process. But the good news is that the agency will be back in business in a week or so, and when that happens I can begin auditioning again.

As far as producing, I'm currently not interested in it or pursuing it, but I never say never.

For Further info on Sherry visit her new official website @ www.sherryshaoling.com

Watch for future information and exclusive photos from the dynamic Sherry Shaoling on Dan's Movie Report!

3 comments:

  1. Thank you Danny! what an amazing gift! xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great interview danny and i wish sherry the best of luck

    -Dru

    ReplyDelete

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