INTRO BY TIFFANY ARUNARSIRAKUL
INTERVIEW BY CAMI LIBERTY
Born in Los Angeles with a Chinese and Japanese descent, actor Rich Ting is featured in Paramount Network’s “Waco,” which looks into the 1993 standoff between the FBI, ATF, and Branch Davidians. “Waco” premiered January 28, 2018, and in Fall 2018, Ting will be in the Cinemax drama series “Warrior;” this will be a series inspired by Bruce Lee, taking place in the late 1800’s San Francisco Chinatown. In addition, Ting will have his short drama “Prisoner of Mind” in 2018 film festivals. Ting has roles in a variety of films, whether in the United States or Asia. He also carries a 1st degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and modeled for various companies such as Chase Credit Card, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani.
What do you remember from your first audition and the experience from it?
RICH: "The only thing I remember from my first audition was how nervous and scared I was to read for the casting director. Having prepped all of my lines well in advance, I suddenly became so anxious waiting in the lobby that I started blanking on all of my scenes. Long story short, I honestly do not remember exactly what happened inside the casting room but definitely know I did not deliver the scene as I had prepared it at home. I used this uncomfortable and frightening audition as a learning experience to prepare and train from for potential auditions in the future."
Do you think where you grew up and who you grew up with influenced your decision to be an actor in any way?
RICH: "Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, I definitely believe that the surrounding 'Hollywood' environment influenced me to want to pursue a career in acting. I remember seeing huge billboards for films, TV shows, concerts, brand names as well as attending school with children of famous celebrities. As a child, I often asked myself (1) why there was not a famous 'Asian American' leading man and (2) why were all Asian actors (like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan) martials artists or characters that could fight and fly through the air. Legends like Bruce Lee definitely inspired and motivated me to pursue my study of martial arts but I was always curious why there was never an Asian American 'dad,' 'boyfriend,' 'policeman,' 'firefighter,' 'lawyer,' or 'hero'. All of my childhood friends had favorite actors that they could relate to ethnically and racially, however, I could never find that one Asian American leading man that represented my 'hero'. As a result, the dream and pursuit of becoming not only an Asian American actor but a leading man in Hollywood began. It has been an absolute dream come true for me to be working in Hollywood as an actor, and I continue to live the dream everyday I go to set and perform my craft in front of the cameras."
Tell us about the Paramount Network series “Waco”. Who do you play?
RICH: "I play 'Lon Horiuchi', an F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team (H.R.T.) sniper and former U.S. Army officer. He was the critical sniper that shot Vicki Weaver during the F.B.I. siege at Ruby Ridge in 1992. (In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, but the charges were later dropped). He was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco siege. As a result, the series opens with the events at Ruby Ridge and follows Horiuchi’s involvedment all the way to the siege of the Waco compound in 1993."
You will be starring in the Cinemax drama series "Warrior", which is inspired by the writings and work of Bruce Lee. What is it like working on the set and portraying your character?
RICH: "It has been such an honor to be not only cast for this amazing project but to also be playing the real character of martial arts legend and close friend of Bruce Lee, 'Bolo Yeung.' It has also been an absolute pleasure and privilege to be working with such a diverse group of extremely talented actors. Because we are on location in Cape Town, South Africa filming this incredible project, the entire cast typically hangs out and grabs lunch, dinner, coffee, etc. with each other quite frequently. We have all gone on various excursions to the beach, wineries as well as participate in daily stunt training with our stunt team and coordinators. Having actors from all over the world, including Canada, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, United Kingdom, South Africa, and the U.S., has definitely impacted and influenced the positive vibe and excitement while filming due to the overall diversity, culture, and energy that each specific actor brings to set.
This project has impacted me in so many ways due to my childhood connection with Bruce Lee, as he was the sole reason for why I began studying martial arts at the age of 4-years old and continues to be one of my lifelong idols. Having the opportunity to work with his daughter, Shannon Lee, as well as director/executive producer, Justin Lin, executive producer, Danielle Woodrow, and writer, Jonathan Tropper, words cannot express how honored I am to bring to life an idea, vision, and dream of the legendary martial artist and my childhood idol, Bruce Lee. Ironically, throughout my life, I have often been referred to and called 'Bolo' or 'Chong Li' from my family, close friends, and numerous athletic teammates. Known for his notorious characters in 'Enter the Dragon' and 'Blood Sport,' Bolo Yeung has been someone I have also idolized due to his muscular physique and overall strong character acting. Being cast as 'Bolo' in 'Warrior' represents the biggest win of my career thus far as I am portraying the most iconic and hyper-masculine Asian character known throughout the world in a TV series written and created by the greatest martial artist of all time. I would never have imagined I would be given such an opportunity as a 4-year old child watching both Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung in 'Enter of the Dragon'."
Out of all the roles you have portrayed, which has been your favorite personally and which do you think you’ve learned the most from?
RICH: "Ever since I began my career as a professional actor, I have approached every project as if it were my last. Whether I have been cast as a guest star, recurring, or lead, I have always been extremely proud and humbled to be chosen for that particular character and project. I continue to study and learn from each individual project in perfecting my craft as an actor. Whether it is from set conditions to fellow actors to the various directions and notes from directors and producers, I always treat and approach each project as an opportunity to learn and grow as an artist in the industry. However, to date, I am most proud of my current TV series, 'Warrior', that I am filming in 2018. Inspired by an idea from the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee, 'Warrior' is an action series set against the backdrop of the Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. I am playing legendary character and close friend of Bruce Lee, 'Bolo', the universally feared fighter and top lieutenant of the Hop Wei Tong.
So far, 'Warrior' has not only been my most favorite project to work on but it has also has reinforced what my parents have also preached to me: 'always keep working at something and never stop'. If I didn’t know what to do, then I should just keep doing what I was currently working on. And that’s exactly what happened in my past. In the summer of 2007, an offer at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles brought me back to L.A. where I coincidentally received my first job offer to work on a Warner Brothers’ feature in the summer of 2007. My dream of being an actor in Hollywood had began and since, I continue to be motivated by the unknown factor of what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. When I was 4-years old, I began to study martial arts because of my motivation and inspiration from Bruce Lee. So many decades later, I am now continuing my childhood idol’s idea, dream, and vision he created prior to his unfortunate death. Never would I have imagined that I would be starring in a project created by the greatest martial arts legend of all time while continuing the pursuit of my dream of being a Hollywood actor. Bruce Lee was quoted saying, 'Running water never grows stale, so you got to just keep on flowing'. Similar to what my parents preached and taught me when I was a child, I continue to stay motivated, committed to my craft, and to never stop 'flowing'."
You also recently shot "Prisoner of Mind", a short drama film that will be submitted to film festivals this year. Can you tell us a little about it?
RICH: "I play the character of 'Paul Nguyen', a graduate student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who works as a tour guide for people visiting the National Mall, including the Vietnam Memorial. Unbeknownst to Paul, Vietnam War vet, 'Sgt. Matthew Medder', has been stalking and studying Paul and his family’s background. Sgt. Medder, a Vietnam P.O.W. who was a prisoner in a North Vietnamese prison camp, discovers that Paul is the grandson of the North Vietnamese commander that held him captive. Suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) as well as various other mental illnesses, Sgt. Medder strategizes and eventually seeks revenge on his former captor by kidnapping and torturing Paul. The film focuses on the numerous illnesses as well as P.T.S.D. that our war veterans suffer from and experience upon returning home from war. Throughout the intense dialogue and conversations between Paul and Sgt. Medder, it becomes evident that these war veterans continue to require additional medical care and attention throughout their recovery and assimilation back into mainstream society. The film addresses the issues of revenge, hope, forgiveness as well as the impacts and influences of religion, including Christianity."
Is there anything else that we can expect in the near future?
RICH: "In 2017, I was cast as 'Keith Jenloe', the managing partner of an investment bank, on the CBS TV series, 'NCIS: Los Angeles'. And I am very excited to say that I will be returning as a recurring character on 'NCIS: Los Angeles' in 2018. In addition, 'Warrior' is scheduled to premiere on HBO’s Cinemax channel in late 2018."