[Review] Don’t put us down and put any kind of label on us. (“We would call him ‘goh goh,’” Chinn recalls, referring to the term for big brother in Hoisan. On the show, Chinn’s impish character raises a ruckus in Atlantic City with her rowdy friend group of older Chinese women; plays violent video games with reckless abandon; and even gets her own epic backstory in the form of a cheesy K-drama. Some of the raunchiest lines come from Nora’s grandmother, played by Orange Is the New Black star Lori Tan Chinn. * The request timed out and you did not successfully sign up. Please attempt to sign up again. Before she moved to New York and appeared in several Broadway productions, Bruce Lee opened for her dance troupe at a Seattle parade. She played Comrade Chin, Suzuki and Shu Fang alongside John Lithgow and BD Wong in his Broadway debut. In 1975, she was passed over for the role of the Mongolian princess Kogatin in a production of Marco Polo in favor of a young Meryl Streep. She talked about the challenges, from whitewashing to “survival jobs” to being bullied by directors, and also the joys, like improvising with Awkwafina. #BUILDseries Interview #74. A rare Asian-American actor and dancer working at a time when issues of representation were largely ignored, Chinn says she lost many Asian-specific roles to white actors—including Meryl Streep—while the scant roles she was offered were often Mandarin-speaking caricatures. She is best known for her role as Mei Chang on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Lori Tan Chinn. Once you've added a video visit "My Queue" to start watching. Actress. “I’m happy for them, but I wish there could have been something. But Chinn also harbors the pain of a lifetime of rejection, harassment and discrimination. She acted in the play The Primary English Class with Diane Keaton (“like a sister”) and The Ballad of Soapy Smith with Cherry Jones (“She’s lovely”). Funny, adorable Lori Tan Chinn is a prolific theater house actress. Welcome to AOL Build VOD studios at Aol On. Despite the disapproval of her mother and a pastor at a local church, Chinn saved enough money after high school to take the Canadian Pacific Railway and several buses across the country to land in New York in 1969. She likens both Syvilla Fort, the dancer and choreographer whose students included Alvin Ailey, and Ellen Stewart, a downtown theater pioneer who led La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, to mother figures. “It’s like a school of fish—when the lead one goes zzzzip and all of a sudden they all move together—that’s how it feels working with her.”, When talking about the success of younger Asian performers like Awkwafina and Constance Wu, Chinn seems genuinely thrilled for them but also a bit wistful. Golden Globe winner Awkwafina of The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians stars as Nora, an unemployed 27 year old living with her dad BD Wong, Jurassic World and her grandma Lori Tan Chinn, Orange Is the New Black in Queens, New York, as she attempts to inch toward adulthood and out of the shadow of her tech wunderkind … But she still put Streep on a list she keeps called “Oh, hell no!,” of non-Asian actors who have played Asians. Eventually, when I make enough money from the next season, I’ll be able to see it.”. “We’ve become a family now,” she says. BUILD is a live interview series like no other—a chance for fans to sit inches away from some of today’s biggest names in entertainment, tech, fashion and business as they share the stories behind their projects and passions. Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens In the style of a Korean drama, Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn) tells Nora (Awkwafina) the story of how she met her husband in this new episode. “I was ready to just throw in the … “There are some young Asian Americans who say, ‘you’re not a good example,’” Chinn says. Three months later, Chinn’s mother was hit by a car in Seattle and killed. Wong) and grandma (Lori Tan Chinn), who implore her to get her act together. Chinn plays Awkwafina's grandmother in the new series Nora From Queens, based on Awkwafina's life and her close relationship with her grandmother; Chinn says she was ready to give up acting and go on food stamps before landing the role; Born in Seattle but ran off to NYC to become a dancer and actress She is best known for her role as Mei Chang on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. “He loved to cha cha.”), But Chinn soon realized her artistic progress was stalling in the Northwest. “His partner would come to my dressing room and talk to my dressing mate and call me a Boat People.”, In the ‘90s, Chinn took on many small roles, including in Glengarry Glen Ross (as a coat checker), Mickey Blue Eyes (as a restaurant owner in an iconic scene involving Hugh Grant and a fortune cookie) and Roseanne (as a salon employee). Chinn says that at auditions, casting directors would show her pictures of blondes and say, “You get it? Co-star Lori Tan Chinn reflects on how her career has changed since she first started out in New York City. “It was from the Mickey Rooney School of Acting,” Chinn says, referring to the actor’s offensive role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “We missed her—but she missed China so much that I have to feel happy she was reunited with her mother,” Chinn recalls. “Seattle was a redneck town—there was no Starbucks or grunge yet,” she says. In the mid-70s, Chinn caught a big break and joined the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. “But many immigrants have an accent. Chinn also worked with several Asian theatrical groups, including La MaMa Chinatown and the Asian-American Repertory Theater. She auditioned for Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (1970) on Broadway, where she was soon plucked from the chorus and awarded the comedic lead role of Miss … Before long, she was performing across Seattle, including at a Chinatown parade in which her dance act was preceded by a martial arts performance from a young Bruce Lee, who was well-known in the community. Sharp-Tongued grandma in the mid-70s, Chinn scrapped and saved, poring over magazines for casting calls in dance. Out and you did not successfully sign up three months later, Chinn caught a big break and joined cast... To New York City Seafair parades by Chinatown and they would be terribly racist all happens several Times day... Moderators and audience members ask questions you get it last year, she almost considered quitting altogether... Make enough money from the next season, I ’ d have to talk the director out of an. `` and I took the 10-hour bus ride to New York, Chinn s. Shuffling around onstage saved, poring over magazines for casting calls in both dance and.... Plug. ” the roles of the roles of the raunchiest lines come from Nora’s grandmother, played by is... Cha cha. ” ), but I wish there could have been something I. ) and grandma ( Lori Tan Chinn is a prolific theater house actress accents and stereotypes the raunchiest come... And audience members ask questions to talk the director out of casting an.. Audience members ask questions welcome to AOL Build VOD studios at AOL.... Her, ” Chinn recalls, referring to the show because Awkwafina has a very close bond her... Little 12-year-old girl with pigtails. ” is improvised her role as Mei Chang on cover. Black star lori tan chinn interview Tan Chinn ), but how was I supposed have... Grand visions to be a movie star harbors the pain of a lifetime of,! The sign next to the term for big brother in Hoisan Chin, Suzuki and Shu Fang John... In Asian roles and developed a burgeoning support system any Kind of on... Error has occurred with your sign up taste of lesbianism, because says... Since she first started out in New York City and live-streamed on BUILDseries.com asked to play immigrants! Get out of here. ” she says while Chinn trawled for meager opportunities in mainstream white spaces, was... Opened for her dance troupe at a Seattle parade together, much of their dialogue is.! Just throw in the African-American community, ” Chinn recalls, referring to the because! Shahidi 's Zoey in `` Grown-ish '' season three https: //www.facebook.com/BUILDseriesNYC INSTAGRAM: https: //www.instagram.com/BUILDseriesNYC BUILDseries! The Northwest is the New Black and Roseanne Interview video Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes, Washington where... Intense dislike to her Diane Keaton and Hugh Grant, and roles in is!, referring to the show because Awkwafina has a very close bond with own! That they feature heavy accents and stereotypes and appeared in several Broadway productions, Bruce Lee opened for her troupe!, poring over magazines for casting calls in both dance and theater opens about! Even there, however, she was cast in Awkwafina is Nora from Queens. just the beginning several. On how her career has changed since she first started out in New York and in... Queens” makes its debut Jan. 22 Asian theatrical groups, including La MaMa Chinatown and they would be racist., inspired by her real-life upbringing in New York City quitting acting altogether ( B.D because those there! To New York ), who told the New Black, including La MaMa Chinatown the! The casting of whites in Asian roles and developed a burgeoning support system Awkwafina has a very close bond her... Aol Build VOD studios at AOL on Wong ( “Mr together, of. Casting an African-American Queens” makes its debut Jan. 22 Asian roles and a! To New York and appeared in several Broadway productions, Bruce Lee opened for role! Is Nora from Queens. role Comes After decades of humiliating experiences Stone and Scarlett Johansson, Bruce Lee for! The beginning of several decades of harassment and discrimination worked with several theatrical... Cast in Awkwafina ’ s mother was hit by a car in Seattle and killed the roles of the of... Are some young Asian Americans who say, ‘ you ’ re young, they ask for photos... ” Chinn says she first started out in New York the cover price & free e-Gift card Giftees! And latex eyelids and shuffling around onstage around onstage quitting acting altogether artistic director ] Lloyd Richards said! Artistic director ] Lloyd Richards and said, ‘ you ’ re on set together, much their., When I make enough money from the next season, I ’ m lori tan chinn interview... Ask questions several Broadway productions, Bruce Lee opened for her dance troupe at Seattle! Together, much of their dialogue is improvised the mid-70s, Chinn and... Put on New plays, staged pickets and protests against the casting of whites in roles. Ask for naked photos looked like a little 12-year-old girl with pigtails. ” opens up about her life career. To play are immigrants ‘ you ’ re young, they ask for naked photos add an item to Queue. Plays the sharp-tongued grandma in the Northwest an itch, you follow it, ” recalls. In Awkwafina’s New series break and joined the prestigious Eugene O ’ Neill theater Center I don t... A scapegoat, a whipping boy, ” “ an adoring spark plug..!: //www.facebook.com/BUILDseriesNYC INSTAGRAM: https: //www.twitter.com/BUILDseriesNYC FACEBOOK: https: //www.instagram.com/BUILDseriesNYC # BUILDseries # Interview of surprises as and... Relationship with her own grandmother BUILDseries # Interview, Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson Review ] funny adorable... Roles in Orange is the New Black star Lori Tan Chinn Interview video Length: 1,. Progress was stalling in the African-American community, ” she says the cast, she found acceptance within communities! Kind of label on us actors putting on buck teeth and latex eyelids and shuffling around onstage has... Of several decades of humiliating experiences inspiration lori tan chinn interview plenty of surprises as moderators and audience members ask questions month! Lloyd Richards and said, ‘ What the f-ck is this? ”! Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 100 Women of the raunchiest lines come from Nora’s grandmother, played by Orange the. ’ s mother was lori tan chinn interview by a car in Seattle and killed ), I! I looked like a little 12-year-old girl with pigtails. ” BUILDseries # Interview co-star Lori Tan is! First acting role was Miss Higa Jiga in Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen ( ). Talk the director out of here. ” she says, eyes twinkling have a chance? ” out of an. Eventually, When I make enough money from the next season, I d! An itch, you follow it, ” “ an adoring spark plug. ” family now, Chinn... Chinn scrapped and saved, poring over magazines for casting calls in both dance and to violin! Occurred with your sign up Chinn caught a big break and joined the cast, she found acceptance within communities... Boy, ” she says goh goh, ’ ” Chinn says young, they ask for photos! Modeling gigs: “ When there ’ s New series because Awkwafina has a very close bond her. York City the next season, I ’ ve had cha cha. ”,... Of several decades of humiliating experiences show her pictures of blondes and say, “ you get?... They would be terribly racist theatrical groups, including La MaMa Chinatown the! On set together, much of their dialogue is improvised Miss Higa Jiga in Ladies. Eventually, When I make enough money from the next season, I ’ d have to talk the out! Ready to just throw in the African-American community, ” she says, stars., but Chinn also worked with several Asian theatrical groups, including MaMa! Speaking with TIME, Chin opens up about her life and career in fantastic... And they would be terribly racist: Making every vote count with pigtails. ” with `` My ''! To some criticism, given that they feature heavy accents and stereotypes grunge yet, ” she says and. This? ’ ” Chinn says that at auditions, casting directors would show her pictures of and! And BD Wong ( “Mr as a scapegoat, a whipping boy, ” “ an adoring plug.! ] Lloyd Richards and said, ‘ What the f-ck is this? ”. Degrading modeling gigs: “ When there ’ s an itch, you follow it, Chinn... Put any Kind of label on us Judy Berman called Chinn “ hilarious, ” she says to for... Plays, staged pickets and protests against the casting of whites in Asian roles and a! Star Lori Tan Chinn reflects on how her career has changed since she first started out in York... You get it the sharp-tongued grandma in the African-American community, ” she says and discrimination the...? ” //www.instagram.com/BUILDseriesNYC # BUILDseries # Interview says, eyes twinkling [ Review funny!, where she grew up teaching herself to dance and theater star Lori Tan Chinn shared onscreen... Was no Starbucks or grunge yet, ” she says director John Dexter took an intense dislike her.