I’ve found it very tough,” up-and-coming performer, Jenny Wu, replies when FilmInk asks if it’s a difficult road for Asian-Australian actors to tread in the local industry. “That’s why I had to look elsewhere in the world for work, but that being said, it’s tough for actors in general, no matter which background they come from. The good thing is that things are changing. In the face of all the racial Oscars jokes and the subsequent Asian backlash on Twitter, it’s easy to be bitter about the lack of great roles, but you have to look on the bright side, because things are changing…they’re changing slowly, but they are changing.”
A graduate of Sydney’s National Institute Of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), the Shanghai-born and Sydney-raised Jenny Wu has hardly taken the usual route of Hollywood via Neighbours or Home And Away, instead decamping to China, where she worked as a translator and assistant director on the blockbusting epic, Dragon Blade (2015), starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack, and Adrien Brody. Topping that, Wu now has a major on-screen role in the upcoming feature film, Lady Bloodfight. Filmed in Hong Kong, this female-driven actioner is one of 2016’s most anticipated martial arts movies, and is helmed by Frenchman, Chris Nahon (the Jet Li-starring Kiss Of The Dragon; Blood: The Last Vampire; and Empire Of The Wolves, with Jean Reno). Boasting a rolling swathe of jaw-dropping set pieces, it provided more than a few challenges for Jenny Wu. “My first day on set, which was also the first day of shooting for the film, was chaotic, but I had a ball,” the actress laughs. “It was the first time that I ever shot a fight sequence, and on that first day, we were shooting one of my big fight scenes, with new choreography added on set! It was a very Hong Kong way of working. There was lots of pressure, but it was thrilling at the same time. I came out of it going, ‘Hey, that was kinda…awesome! I’m ready to kick some more arse.’ Lady Bloodfight was quite the ride!”
Also quite the ride was Wu’s involvement with 2014’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction. The young actress made it as a top ten finalist – in a field of 70,000 contestants – in the “Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Search for Chinese Actors” competition hosted by CCTV6 & M1905, China’s official Movie Channel, in conjunction with Paramount Pictures. “There were more than 70,000 contestants competing across four categories, all for a role in the film,” Wu explains. “The four ‘types’ were: cute Lolita, muscle man, geeky nerd, and sex goddess. Rounds of online submissions and self-tests were made, along with audience votes before the selection of the final 25 from each category to attend a televised acting competition in Beijing. Once we were in Beijing, it was like an intensive acting boot camp, with cameras trailing you continuously for national network broadcast in China. Not only were we training and working with Hollywood’s best directors, like Martha Coolidge [Valley Girl, Rambling Rose], but our work was seen and judged by Hollywood’s top producers, like Lorenzo Di Bonaventura [Transformers, GI Joe, RED]. It was so exciting.”
This week, Wu returns to Asia as a guest of the inaugural Gold Aries Award Macau International Film Festival, which runs from March 6-8, and boasts powerhouse director and producer, James Cameron, as its honorary chairman. The festival is a platform bringing together Chinese and Western film industry professionals, in the hope of creating future international co-production projects, including forging Australian Chinese co-productions. “The Macau Film Festival is a wonderful platform for the east meeting the west,” Wu tells FilmInk. “I had a look at their list of attendees the other day, and there are many top tier industry professionals across China and Hollywood, so I’m looking forward to networking with the movers and shakers of the industry. I’m also looking forward to catching a few great Asian films that may not be released here in Australia. I have this great opportunity to attend the festival as a guest, and I will be making the most of it! You never know where your next project may come from, so I’m always open to new possibilities.”
For more on Jenny Wu, head to http://jennywu.info/.
Photo credit: Shane Kavanagh.