An Interview with Actress and Producer Shuang Teng
Best known for appearing in and producing The Receptionist, actress Shuang Teng talks to Mandy News about how she got involved in acting, and the work she has done as a producer on short films including Green and The Sexual Joneses.
Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you got involved in acting?
I’m a London based actor and producer of Chinese descent. I initially studied law and worked for a corporate law firms after I graduated but, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do so ended up attending drama school.
I’d actually wanted to give acting a try ever since I was a teenager but was too shy and not confident enough to voice that wish. I didn’t really see that many people like me on stage or screen growing up in the UK and didn’t believe it was a possible career choice for me.
I didn’t know how you would go about doing it, I just thought that you had to be from the right family or had to be really lucky. I didn’t know anyone who could give me any advice. Luckily for me, I started attending an over 18s drama club where some of the others were contemplating going to drama schools, so that’s how I found out more about the paths you can take to a career in acting. And by then, I’d gained enough confidence to at least give auditioning for drama schools a try.
You are also a producer, can you tell me a little about this role?
I started thinking about producing because I wanted to create more work for people like me and wanted to tell more diverse stories. Films and plays are a great way to introduce an audience to untold stories and new ideas, and that’s what makes it really exciting for me.
I started asking if I could help out on the films and shows that I was involved with to build on my experience and was very fortunate to work with some very understanding directors, who gave me the chance to gain more experience. The first role I successfully auditioned for, a few months out of drama school was The Receptionist, and I was able to gain some first-hand producing experience on this film.
Since then, I’ve produced various stage productions with Punchline Theatre at both Brighton and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals; O Deptford, a play with The Albany Theatre and Yellow Earth Theatre, which looked at the East Asian community in Deptford; and short films like Green, which placed in the final 10 for the London 48 Hour Sci-Fi Film Challenge; and The Sexual Jones, a comedy which screened recently at Kerry Film Festival.
What do you think about the prejudice Asian actor’s face in casting?
There have definitely been situations where I felt certain prejudices during castings and it can be really frustrating and disheartening. Sometimes, I’m too Asian, other times not Asian enough. I understand that there needs to be Asian roles, however, it would sometimes be nice for my race to not form part of the equation.
Given the recent success of films like Crazy Rich Asians and TV shows like Fresh Off the Boat, I hope that the prejudices faced by Asian actors, particularly East Asian actors will improve. These films/shows have proven that Asian led projects can be successful and we can be fully rounded characters.
I am seeing more diversity on stage (with plays such as the UK tour of Mountains and Forgotten at the Arcola Theatre in 2018) and screened in the UK recently so I’d like to be optimistic and hope that there will be a genuine and long-lasting change.
What are you working at the moment, what plans do you have for 2019?
I’m currently working on a really exciting project for the stage for summer of 2020 but I can’t say what it is yet as it will be officially announced autumn 2019…
What advice do you have for up-and-coming actors?
All the rejections (even for successful actors) can seriously get you down so don’t wait for something to happen to you. If you are not getting the jobs then look at how you can create work for yourself.Tags: