Shum says acting helped “reinvent” himself
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/02/2012 -- Harry Shum Jr., who plays Mike Chang in “Glee,” had some surprises for a group of students he addressed recently at Northwestern University.
He wore his hair in cornrows at the start of his acting career. Shum, told students the style was his way of discovering his identity after his family moved to San Francisco from Costa Rica.
About 300 students turned out at the event organized by the university’s Taiwanese American Students Club.
“We feel like Harry has stories that he can share to not just Asians,” Sophia Hsu, the club’s president, told The Daily Northwestern. “He can talk to everyone on campus, and we wanted to bring everyone together.”
Shum told students that Spanish was his first language. He was born in Costa Rica where his parents moved from China to find work. It was not until he was in third grade that the family moved to San Francisco.
Shum said he was picked on because he didn’t speak English or Chinese.
“I got bricks thrown at me,” said Shum. “I actually got pretty good at dodging things.”
He said acting helped him stand up to bullies and find a way to be himself.
“It allowed me to reinvent myself … embrace being different and find ways on how to make it work for you as an individual.”
He left high school to follow his dream, and an audition for “Glee” turned into his first big break. He sang Nat King Cole’s “L.O.V.E.” and got a call back a week later.
“I went onto the stage with the New Directions, and it was the start of something crazy,” said Shum. “The next thing you know I was doing a whole season.”
Many students at the Northwestern event said they were surprised to hear Shum’s story.
“It was really exciting to meet someone you see on TV a lot,” said Maeghan Murphy, a freshman, “and also just to hear that he felt a lot of things that a lot of people feel about not fitting in.”
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