In 2016, we were first introduced to Second Jen, a Canadian coming-of-age sitcom about two young Asian women finding their own footing after moving out of their parents’ homes for the first time. Now, with the third season set to premiere on February 14th on OMNI Television, we sat down with their newest cast member to discuss his new role, and how he got there.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
AB: I was born in Edmonton and I lived there pretty much my whole life up until I was 19 and then I moved to Toronto to pursue acting. I went to University of Alberta and I was going into International Business, but I ended up leaving that.
What got you into acting?
AB: I started pretty early. I didn’t know much about the acting industry to be honest, because I was so young, but I started taking classes. The first class I took was at the Citadel Theatre, when I was like 13, maybe a bit younger. I liked acting because I was into doing and learning new things. I liked the adventure.
What did you think about Second Jen?
AB: We finished wrapping and it’s coming out on the 14th. It was fun. That project specifically was an all-female creative team and it had so much diversity in the actual production, it was so nice to see. Everybody there was a joy to work with, they were really delightful and funny. It was a good time overall.
Did you like the production part of it?
AB: Yeah. The shooting process was really simple. It was a smaller production, so more intimate. It was all, for the most part, at one location.
We’ve seen with Crazy Rich Asians how diversity is coming up. How important is that now?
AB: Well, first of all I’m black, I’m mixed. But seeing diversity on screen is great. I think Asians especially are under-represented. I think there’s a lot of groups that are. So having any opportunity to increase it [diversity] is I think needed. It’s a step forward for sure.
What’s your favourite set memory?
AB: I think my favourite set memory was Ken Hall, he was a guest on the show. And he was giving us an intimacy class. That day was very funny, there was, like, kissing apples. And Ken is also just an incredible comedian. He’s fantastic, had everybody laughing. It was great.
What was it like working during the quarantine?
AB: We wrapped up most of Second Jen before coronavirus hit but then we had to shut down production towards the end. It’s been interesting because the restrictions are pretty harsh, we have to follow a bunch of guidelines. I’ve had probably, during this whole thing, like 15, 20 coronavirus tests, which are not the most fun to do. But the film industry has been tremendously rigorous with their protocols. So I felt very safe.
In the past, whenever something like the pandemic has happened, art has changed in some way or other. What do you think the new wave of art will be like?
AB: I know that I’ll be thankful to be able to actually work with people again. And I think there will be a greater appreciation for anything we may have taken for granted, whether it’s seeing concerts in person, or being in a crowd with people sharing laughs, as a full audience. I think there’ll hopefully be a greater appreciation for the arts, whether it’s TV or film or radio or podcasts; whatever helped you get through this time.
What’s your favourite spot in Toronto?
AB: My favourite spot when it was open, it’s gone now unfortunately, was the Bad Dog Theatre. It’s a comedy theatre and also like a bar and hang out.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day in Edmonton?
AB: I don’t come back enough, but when I do, my favourite way to spend the day would definitely be hanging out with my friends, either at one of their homes, or at Julio’s Barrio on Whyte Ave.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AB: I’d love to give a shout-out to Edmonton. I love it, and I miss it. I can’t wait to be back when I’m able to travel.