Game Changer Spotlight: Hudson Yang

As part of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month collection, X1 Asian American Film & TV will highlight various Game Changers, influential Asian Americans across entertainment.

The following interview is with Hudson Yang, an American actor born in New York City. In 2014 he was cast as the lead in the ABC television series “Fresh Off the Boat,” playing a young Eddie Huang before he became a world-famous chef and cultural commentator. The show recently hit the 100-episode milestone, becoming the longest-running television show on American television with a predominately Asian American cast. 

FRESH OF THE BOAT – “Under the Taipei Sun”- Eddie ships off to Taiwan for the cultural exchange program, blithely ignoring his parents’ advice about how hard it was for them when they came to America for the first time. After all, he’s been to Taiwan before, what could go wrong? Plenty, when he ends up separated from his group with no money and next-to-no language skills. Meanwhile, back home in Orlando, the Huangs adjust to life without Eddie on “Fresh Off the Boat,” FRIDAY, APRIL 5 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. “Under the Taipei Sun” is the milestone 100th episode of ABC’s critically acclaimed, groundbreaking series, which premiered in February 2015. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) HUDSON YANG

You hit 100 episodes of “Fresh Off the Boat this year. What a milestone! How has your experience been on the show from a first-time actor to now a seasoned professional five years later?

Hudson Yang: Ha, I don’t know what seasoned means, but I feel like I’ve grown up on the show— I had so many of my firsts on the show: my first kiss, my first girlfriend, my first time driving a car. Kind of looking forward to doing all those things in my real life now!

And I’ve made so many friends on the show. The guys who are part of Eddie’s Squad — Prophet Bolden, Evan Hanneman, Trevor Larcom, Dash Williams — and it’s like I have a second family, mom and dad and bros that are almost as close as my actual family. So I’ve basically been able to live two lives at the same time, and that’s been pretty amazing. Whatever happens in the future, I’ll always be grateful for being able to do this.

Image Credit: Hudson Yang “Fresh Off the Boat”

Do you see yourself as continuing to be a professional actor or do you want to explore other endeavors after high school?

HY: I think I’ll always be an actor — I mean it kind of feels like there’s a lot more chance for Asians to be out there now! But I do want to go to college and I also have other things I love doing too — like cooking. I invested in a restaurant last year and have been learning what it’s like to be in a professional kitchen. I want to train more as a cook. I’m also working on developing some shows that are about cooking…I think it would be amazing to do that on TV.

FAR EAST ORLANDO – Pilot (ABC/Eric McCandless) HUDSON YANG, CONSTANCE WU, FORREST WHEELER, RANDALL PARK, IAN CHEN

What are some films or TV shows and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

HY: I recently watched “Kung Fu Hustle” again with my dad and it was just as amazing as the first time I saw it. I got to admit I really liked the “Pitch Perfect” movies. “Crazy Rich Asians” was amazing and not just because my TV mom Constance Wu was in it. I enjoy “Kim’s Convenience,” I like hanging out with those guys. “Black Panther” was incredible. I want to be in the Marvel Universe someday. Just give me a shot at being Amadeus Cho!

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

HY: I don’t think I know how to work any other way than being Asian! Even when not playing a character that was written to be Asian, I’m still Asian in my head.

I know you love to cook. What’s your go-to dish to make at home?

HY: I make a mean fried rice. 

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