Jolie Chi was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She moved to the states alone when she was 16 years old to study as well as to chase her dreams.
Two years ago she moved to LA and has been working as an actress, model, and comedian. Recently, Jolie played the lead role of Lucy in "My Lunatic Lucy", for which she won Best Actress in a Comedy at the Actors Awards.
We asked Jolie to join us for an interview, and met a talented, hard working actress who keeps challenging herself with different types of roles.
Jolie, you come from a fascinating background. You were born in Taipei (Taiwan) and moved to the US alone at the age of 16. What a huge step - very courageous for anyone, let alone a teenager! Why did you decide to move to the other side of the world, and what were some of your first impressions of the new country?
Thank you so much! I’ve always dreamt of being in America since I was little when I was obsessed with Disney Channel. I wanted to move to the States because somehow I felt like that’s where I belong. Growing up watching Disney made me feel like America was such a lovely place where everybody shows how loving they are to each other where they hug and tell each other they love and miss them. And it turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be. Everybody was so loving to one another and so appreciative. I’m also super outgoing, actually way too outgoing for my culture to be honest. I never felt like I fit in my culture since my culture is very conservative and not as open minded which I don’t like. And my first impression of America was that “THIS IS DEFINITELY WHERE I BELONG.” I was lucky enough to be hosted with a loving family who took me in just like their own daughter. And ps, I was very scared that people were going to be racists since before I moved to the States, I heard many stories about how if you go to a small town especially (which btw my host family is located in Indiana, Versailles, a super tiny town.) then they might not be as welcoming and that people would be racists towards you. So I was really scared but I was also very lucky to have such amazing host family, friends, and teachers who treated me so well and made me feel so much loved that I’ve never felt so welcomed before.
How and why did you become an actor? Was your family supportive of this career choice, and the move to the States?
I started to fall in love with acting when I was in Indiana. I wanted to pursue acting as my career when I moved to Seattle from Indiana. Actually, I never found out why I love making people laugh so much until I remembered the first time I made my mom genuinely laugh. I was in third grade, and I was mimicking a character on a funny sitcom show to my mother, and my mother thought it was so funny that I was so surprised and happy to see her laughed so hard, and that was the first time I saw her truly happy. Because she was in depression for a long time after my mom and dad got divorced when I was 5. I had never seen her genuinely laughed before that due to her depression. And when I moved to Indiana, I had the opportunity to be in drama club when I moved to Indiana, and I decided that I want to make this as a career because I found out I have the ability to make other people laugh other than my mother who btw got through depression by all the jokes and acts I would put on for her everyday. Therefore, my goal in life is to become a successful comedic actor who is able not only make people laugh but also if they happen to be in depression, I hope I am able to heal them through my acting.My mom is very supportive of my career even though she knows it’s a risky one, but my other family members don’t support my career choices at all because they think I’m just gambling with my life haha. But I am going to prove them wrong and make my mother proud someday soon. (fingers crossed)
When did you move to Los Angeles? Did you go through any acting training here?
I moved to LA two years ago when I got accepted and scholarship at New York Film Academy LA campus. I studied there for a year and got my acting certificate, and right after that I was working as a full time actor. While working as a full time actor, I still want to continue and grow as an actor, so I went to some private coaching with a lot of great coaches such as Marnie Cooper, Barry Papick, Gray Studios. I also got scholarship to study at Beverly Hills Playhouse for a few months.
Who are your role models and what do you find exciting about their work?
My role models are Jim Carrey, Jim Parson, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, Sandra Bullock, Melissa Mccarthy. (the list can go on) But I love all of these actors because they’re so dedicated into their works. These actors have acted so many different characters and their acting choices and the way of approaching to acting are so subtle and natural that it’s like they’re born with it. They’re like chameleons.
You have participated in some impressive TV productions, such as Westworld and Grey's Anatomy. Congratulations on these wonderful achievements. How does it feel to be on the set of such famous shows? Tell us about these experiences. You probably met quite a few industry people.
Thank you so much! I’m super grateful for the opportunity. Being able to work on set with such great directors such as Vincenzo Natali and Ellen Pompeo. Watching how they directed everything amazed and inspired so much more to pursue acting and explore everything that’s going on behind these wonderful shows. It’s so impressive to see how much work they put in even for background actors. The directors knew exactly what they wanted. I also had the opportunity to work with Kelli Goss in Grey’s Anatomy, and I asked her what her auditioning technique was when she was auditioning and she said "Honestly, I know it’s going to sound very cliche but go with your guts with your choice. Be yourself, and trust your choices."
Tell us about some memorable roles you portrayed. Were there any characters that stayed with you, long after the shoot was concluded?
The most memorable role I’ve portrayed would be Ming Ling at LAFF Mobb’s Tracks. That role was super fun to play because that was a role which didn’t have any lines but at the same time the main role in that episode. I got to be super dramatic and had so much fun with the role since the director wanted me to go overboard. I think there was a character that stayed with me, it was Lucy (from My Lunatic Lucy). It was almost like how Jim Carrey and his character Andy Kaufman where I felt like I became the character while we were shooting for three days.
How do you prepare for an audition? And how about a call back? Any tips?
I prepare the audition by doing a thoroughly background research on the director, producer, and casting director so I know a little better about what their styles are and what they would like to see. And then I will do a scene study, break down the scene, and make strong choices for my character. A callback is much more nerve wrecking but exciting, I honestly just do the same thing as my audition but I like to ask for professional helps from my acting coaches to make sure my choices are strong enough for the character. But my tip would definitely be have fun with your audition, make the whole room shine with your personality and character so they remember you. The most important thing is that you had the opportunity to audition and leave an impression on these professionals. There are too many factors that go into whether or not you get the part, so don’t beat yourself up for not getting picked, but enjoy every moment of it.
Let's talk about your latest movie, My Lunatic Lucy. Is this your first collaboration with director Wanyin Tang? How did you come on board?
It’s my first collaboration with director Wanyin Tang! She actually pictured me for her character when she was writing the script. We weren’t close in school but she told me that she has always wanted to work with me but thought I was too busy to work with her. Then she asked if I’m willing to audition for the role, and I said of course, and she auditioned over 100 girls for the role. And she even had two callbacks for the role with another girl and I because she was having difficulties deciding which one is better for Lucy, she liked my acting a lot and thought I was very comedic, but at the same time the director thought another girl already knows the male lead character sine they've worked together before, and she thought that could be an advantage if they already knew each other, but she picked me in the end because I was not only comedic but also I was able to get the director's notes right away.
What did you like the most about Lucy's character, and what was the most challenging part of portraying her?
I liked the most about Lucy’s character was that she’s a very loving person. She falls really fast for someone just like I do haha. And I think the most challenging part of portraying her was that her emotions are like a roller coaster, she gets extremely jealous and crazy mad if things don’t go her way. That’s something that I’m not like since I hate to get mad in front of anybody, but it was amazing to play this kind of character that isn’t like me.
No spoilers, but Lucy has a very unique personality. How did you prepare for this demanding role?
She really does. I prepared for this demanding role by having a lot of discussion with the director/writer Wanyin Tang. I wanted to make sure where Lucy came from and what caused her anger and jealousy. After our discussion, the director/writer and I came up with a backstory that she comes from a wealthy family but she never gets to see her parents because they’re so busy. She’s also an only child. However, she’s very spoiled since she always gets what she wants since her parents feel bad not being there for her all. And she has never had a serious relationship before, so she became really obsessive because she’s the only one in her family but never really gotten any real attention or love from her parents unless she makes a scene. After knowing where her anger and jealousy came from, it was much easier to understand where she’s the way she is.
What was it like to act alongside Corey Timmons (Josh)? Did you hold many rehearsals?
It was great, he’s really professional and talented. Super sweet guy. We did have a couple of rehearsals, mostly just me and Josh’s scenes. And the director recorded all of the rehearsals so she could show us which one she liked the most so we know clearly what she wanted for our characters.
If you could choose any director to work with and/or any show/movie to work on, what would you choose, and why?
Wow there are so many but I thinkit’d definitely be M. Night Shyamalan and Mark Cendrowski. I am a huge fan of every M. Night Shyamalan’s work, I love twisted characters and ending, I love how his movies always made his audiences drop their jaws in the end, and the actors in his movies are all so amazing and especially when he was directing The Visit with the two kids, I thought it was incredible that he’s able to direct the kids so well that it made me feel like I was watching a real life documentary lively. And Mark is a director of Big Bang Theory and that show is my life saver. I love every character in that show, and I really hope one day I’ll get to be on the show even just as a guest star. Because I basically treat Big Bang Theory as my religion. I think it’s absolutely amazing that they’re able to make so many seasons and countless laughters for the audiences with such smart humours and that’s my goal in life. To be on a show like that which is able to make people happy and relaxed and feel healed.
You also work as a model. What is the coolest gig you signed up for? And how do you make yourself comfortable in front of a camera?
I think the coolest gig I had was a magazine shoot with a makeup artist, it was just like a test shoot but a couple months later it turned out it got picked up by a magazine called Jelly Baby Magazine and I even got on the cover of it!! And I honestly just use my confidence and tell myself that honestly there isn’t anybody who looks like me. So I’m unique and one of a kind and beautiful and bad ass. And that really pumps me up to be comfortable in front of a camera but of course the hair, makeup artists and stylist and the photographer also have a lot to do with how the pictures turn out. It’s really team work to get beautiful pictures.
My Lunatic Lucy - Trailer
As we all know, the entertainment industry can be very demanding. How do you balance between personal life and career? What do you do in between productions?
Yes, it’s really demanding and challenging. But I love it, I love challenges and this is weird to say but sometimes being rejected makes me feel like I have even stronger motivation to prove to the people who have rejected me or that I’m not enough that they’re wrong. And that it’s their loss. My personal life is basically still about my career. I use my personal time to make funny videos and now I’ve started a YouTube channel. I don’t want to wait for things to happen for me, I want to make it happen for myself. I want to create opportunities and contents that can make people smile and change someone’s day even when I am not being picked for whatever part I’m auditioning for.
Liza Koshy is definitely one of my inspirations and goals, she has created so many videos that went viral and made her audiences laugh so hard that now she has her own show because of her personalities and the power of her acting and humor. That’s what I want to do.
Where can our readers follow your work?
They can follow my work through
Facebook: Jolie Chi/ joliechiofficial
What's next for you? Any upcoming projects?
Yes! I’m super excited to say that there are “Destined to Ride” which stars by Madeline Carroll and Denise Richards,”My Lunatic Lucy” by an award winning director Wanyin Tang, and “Exorcism at 60,000 Feet” with Bai Ling and Matthew Moy, a web series called “Holy Sh** Mary” that’s going to air on go90 coming out later this year!!
Is there anything you wish to add?
Make sure to check out my YouTube channel where I create different surprising and hilarious videos for my audience every week! And I guarantee you will see the real me and ps she’s probably the blondest asian you’ll ever meet. Many people call us the asian version of Flat Amy (from pitch perfect) except she has no boobs so fat became flat. Anyways, my videos will definitely brighten your day ;)