“If they’re going to cast a minority, I’m going to use this to my advantage"
Harry Shum Jr has said his ethnicity made him work harder
Shum’s first TV role was on Glee in 2009 with a minor role. “I thought: ‘I’m going to use this opportunity to make it my own and make the most out of it,’” Shum said.
“If they’re going to cast a minority, I’m going to use this to my advantage,” Shum added.
Eventually, his character Mike Chang was given a major story line in season 3.
“You only get so many opportunities, but it’s how you shape them that matters,” he continued.
Shum was born in Costa Rica and move to the US as a child.
“When I first moved to the U.S. it was very different because it was a lot more about individualism and expressing yourself,” said Shum. “That was a stark contrast to how I grew up, but there are a lot of benefits to that.”
Shum went on to say that it is the responsibility of actors as well as producers to influence the industry to be more inclusive. He said actors need to engage in “collaboration and communication” to help move the industry forward.
“I don’t think it’s black and white,” the 37-year-old said. “There are roles you’d stay away from and you can have conversations with the directors before and see what you can do with the role.”