In his acting debut he get to act along side Hollywood's Legend Clint Eastwood.After winning the *OSCARS for Best Picture, and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby, Clint follow it with Gran Torino. It was so secretive, no one is Hollywood knew what he was making. Some speculate that the title 'Gran Torino' is a sequel tohis Dirty Harry saga. But Mr. " go ahead punk, make my day." surprised every one. Gran Torino introduce Hollywood to the H m o n g community and showed us their troubled yet beautiful culture. Thecast was almost entirely unknowns. One of the unknown then was BEE VANG, but unknown no more.
His debut movie made over $ 3 0 0 m i l l i o n w o r l d w i d e, making it Clint Eastwood's highest grossing film ever ! It also retire Clint's acting career. Just how life goes, one stops another begin, so we introduce to you B E E V A N G.
Can you give us a brief Bio of yourself.
I am Bee Vang, and I am 18 years old. Currently, I attend the University of Minnesota as a PSEO undergraduate student, while fulfilling high school requirements. I am seeking degrees in Theater, acting, film production and critique, and cultural studies as well as anthropology and medicine.
- You said that Gran Torino is your acting debut, now how did you get the part since you never acted before? I meant this is Clint Eastwood movie right after winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby.
I never thought that I was going to get cast in Gran Torino. I thought there wasn’t a chance for me. Really, I auditioned for the fun of it. At the time, I told myself that it would be fun to learn from the experience, and that was pretty much how I got into it. After my first audition, I went to the second and so on and so forth, and I got the role. Just like that. Everyone believed that the Hmong roles were found with special care that we were different— but that’s not true at all. We went through the same things any other actor would. So, pretty much, I learned that “for the fun of it” can mean new and bigger things from this experience.
- How did you feel or what was your reaction when you saw yourself on the big screen for the first time?
Before going on the red carpet, I was still convinced that it was all a dream. I never thought that I would be given such an opportunity to be there. It was frightening and excruciating. But once I saw myself on-screen, I knew that it was real, that it was really happening. Then, I calmed down and reassured myself. But that was not the end of it. There were so many important people there, and watching it with them made it worse. It was life changing as well as painful.
- Are you and Mr. Eastwood still in contact and what did you learn from him?
I still do keep in contact with him, yes. I do hope that there will be another opportunity to work with him, but we will see. The things I learned from him were many, but the one thing that has stuck with me was: “Acting is not an intelligent art form; it is an instinctive art form.” I think these words are going to stay with me for the rest of my acting career.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: ( www.thegrantorino.com )
- When you was younger did you dream of being a movie star and how does your family and friend feel about you being in the industry?
When I was younger, I never once dream of acting or being a star. I once thought acting was a leisure activity for people who had time and money, and I just couldn’t picture myself in a career as an actor because it didn’t offer me the stability that I sought. Growing up with immigrant parents, I learned to seek stability for a better life. But my parents were not the very stereotypical Asian parents! They have always been very supportive of me and my ambitions. And it is thanks to them that I am where I am today. So, to answer your question, my family and friends are very supportive and caring about what I do, as long as I love what I do, and I do love acting.
- How did the Hmong community react to the film and how are they treating you now?
The Hmong community has always been very scattered on issues, though sometimes big issues like Gran Torino can bring us closer together. This sort of empowerment is the result of the sort of media portrayals of Hmong in the past, and I would like to believe that these media portrayals have brought us closer to each other and are helping us fight for something bigger and more important. And this was what Gran Torino did, but more. Now, there are more aspiring talents, and it’s exciting to see who else the movie has affected this way.
Of course, this was not the only sort of reactions from the Hmong people. There were a lot of tensions between the cultural inaccuracies of Gran Torino. The sorts of socio-economic statements the film made against the Hmong were also found to be very problematic. But since then, I have defended and tried to use Gran Torino as a vessel to shed light on the Hmong people and I would like to think that I have changed and affected others in this vein. Very quickly, I became a public figure and I am grateful because I have become more active and involved on issues that we are facing as a community and nation.
- Did you get to keep the Gran Torino ? Did you get to keep any props from the film?
No. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the car or any other props from set. It was disappointing, but everything had to be returned to a studio.
- I know you are just getting into the higher learning of the college life so, what are you majoring in and why?
Though I am in college, I am not a college student, yet. I am still pretty much undecided for now about what I would like to study. But I have a good idea of where I would like to go with a liberal arts education . . . I would like to integrate my interests in cultural studies, film production and critique, acting, anthropology, and perhaps dwell in medicine. I find it’s still too soon to really give you an answer.
- I notice you have a interest for Khmer/Cambodian music. How did that come about?
Well, back in eighth grade, my brother was randomly searching videos on youtube and was watching a clip from Tep Sodachan, the Akura Lohet song, sung by Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereythea. I have always been a person who liked oldies and ethnic music: I appreciate diversity and ethnic music a lot. So, I happened to pass by as he was watching the video and since then, I fell in love with Khmer culture and music. It was after finding my passion for these oldies that I also found an interest for the movie, The Killing Fields. It goes without say that some things were “Hollywood-ized.” Since listening to Akura lohet, I have become a great fan of the style of music in Cambodia and am very supportive of the highly-stylized Apsara dancing.
- What is your Identity and how does that affect the way you look at the world?
I am a human being, an individual, and I would like to be treated as one. The same goes for the treatment of others as well. I am aware and worried about the global issues of poverty, diaspora, and genocides and I would like to raise more awareness about them and perhaps do something to stop these atrocities from happening. And I guess this also contributes to my outlook on life . . . I am very optimistic and hopeful for change and welfare of every person on earth.
- Who your favorite Hmong musician and actors?
For Hmong singers, I would have to say Lub Yaj and A You Duo, and for actor, I would have to say Npis Monkey, (I used his stage name because I cannot recall his actual name).
- I heard that Hmong people celebrate their New Years for weeks, even months,. can you explain to us when and how you go about with your celebration.
The Hmong New Year has been for me a very fragmented period. I don’t recall much from my own experiences. We used to be practitioners when I was really young, but we have stopped. I am not sure if I should be the one you should ask for clarifying any cultural aspects of the New Year: I am neither an expert nor one who practices it.
- How do you prepare yourself for a movie role?
It’s all a character study. I find out what the director wants and then I bring my own elements to the character. During this process, I undergo a very deep and close study of my character. I find his psychology and try to understand his objectives. I read the script a couple of times and usually, I ask for clarifications and sometimes, I have found, I make my director add changes and layers to my character. So, it is a very rigorous period for me.
- What is your current projects?
As of now, I am currently trying to get to my school of choice. Aside from academics, I am also looking for more practice before I go to school. Right now, I am doing some local short films rather than feature-length films. Alongside, I have been doing some local stage readings and performances.
- How do you feel about the whole independent film movement?
I think it’s great that there is an independent film movement, but I still find that its politics are still much like Hollywood. Other than that, I don’t have much of a preference with indie films here. My interests are more with international films, usually Hong Kong, Korean or Indian cinema.
- Most embarrassing moment.
I couldn’t tell you. I can’t recall one.
- What is your Religion?
The world to me has been put together in such a painful way that I would prefer to believe that it was not created intentionally. But if you would like for me to be more specific, I am a Buddhist practitioner.
- Since it a new decade where do you see yourself in life 10 years from now?
I hope that in 10 years, I have achieved more opportunities to work with new directors and take my acting career to its fullest potential. Also, I would like to have a production company and I would like to produce a huge collaboration with a variety of film makers and give the opportunity for everyone to have their stories told. Hollywood has been recycling the same sort of stories over and over and I would like a change because who knows how interesting these stories and films can become if they are more diverse with different backgrounds.
- What is your movement and why should we support you?
I don’t have a movement right now, but I do find that it is very important to get a variety of stories and encounters told. Hollywood is not going to tell those stories. So, I believe that it is up to us, and with the opportunities that I received from Gran Torino, I can see the vision actualize a bit better. I don’t ask for anyone to support me, but I ask that everyone supports this view with me because it is the underlying movement that needs to happen.
- 7 words to best describe yourself.
Passionate. Intense. Determined. Enthusiastic. Bold. Emotional. Zealous.
- 7 thing you would put in your time capsule?
I can’t think of anything. I don’t have any possessions that I would like to make timeless.
- Any last words ?
Gran Torino has been a film that has resulted in many, many consequences that has manifested into other things in America. I also find that it is problematic that Hmong people are not known enough, that whenever the word “Hmong” is uttered, the first image that would pop-up is Gran Torino, and that viewers would not look past Gran Torino and assume things about who we are as a people. Please do not let Gran Torino be your only source of Hmong history or culture. Please remember that this is a narrative film and that everything portrayed in that screen is an image that is portraying emotions.
www.mujestic.com/bee_vang *copyrighted 03/12/2010
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