by Gill Pringle

Can you talk about the audition process and how did you feel when you were finally chosen for this role?

It was a long time ago. I can only imagine how high of a standard they were looking for, because they searched for a long time. I’m a big fan of [Mulan director] Niki Caro’s North Country, huge, huge fan. So, I knew that she is an actor’s director. She’s really specific about acting. Before meeting her, I wanted to look at this script. I needed to prepare myself. I remember it was a long flight, and I took my notebook because I like to write a diary for my characters. So, even though time was short, I still did some homework to make sure I had something to give on that day. There was a chance that if I didn’t perform well, I wouldn’t get a chance to play the next scene. So, for me, it’s all nerves and it’s also excitement.

When and how did you find out that you got the role?

That day, after I finished the audition, can you believe, I went directly to the airport. After I ate something, I went directly to the airport, going back to China. And then when I got back home, because they trained me so hard, I can’t walk, I’m limping… When my people realise, they’re like, “Oh, she must have done something good. They train her this way.” And it was one day or two days after. I thought it might take longer because I know how this works, a huge company and this huge project, but after two days I got, “You got this. We’re offering …” I was so happy.

Mulan has been a role model for young girls for a long time. How did you feel about this now that you are Mulan?

I think it’s so different when you watch a hero movie or when you read a hero story, to actually knowing what’s going on for that person. So, I have to do a lot of research to understand her. Not in a big way, but her as a human being, as a girl, her journey. What are her layers? What are her conflicts? Conflicts are always so powerful in movies. And I always think that strength and power doesn’t always come from aggression or hatred. It could come from so many ways.

And the layers of the character, those are what I’m looking for. She is not that perfect hero at first. But she’s willing to look into herself, even though there’s some part that she feels uncomfortable and not finding herself. But she decides to make new choices, and to be brave, to show her true self, therefore to show her spirit and to love from the center of her heart.

What do you think Mulan will bring to females in this time, and especially for Chinese women?

I think no matter whether it’s men or women, you need to know who you are first. And the path is always your responsibility to take; the decisions that you make. Are you willing to be the best version of yourself and not who other people want you to be? When you are truly yourself, you are the most powerful. And it will always surprise you. And then you can love people, love your family better. Look for unconditional love, because that is what love means. Don’t say, “I love you because of…” There’s no because, it’s just, “I love you.”

Mulan is available to stream for purchase on Disney+ from September 4, 2020.


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