1. Can you tell me more about your role in the buzzworthy film “Tag” and what drew you to the role?
I play the role of Arden, who struggles with being diagnosed with the AIDS virus alongside Jonathan Lipnicki and Chris Mintz-Plasse in a warehouse of refuged teens. I loved the fact that the film didn’t shy away from depicting controversial social issues.
2. What was is like working on “Bones” and did you get to act opposite David Boreanaz or Emily Daschanel
Crazy fun! I played the role of the exuberant birthday girl MIRIAM YOUNG, who has a male stripper at her birthday party. When David Boreanaz’s character comes in with Emily Deschanel, I mistake David for a stripper dressed in a detective’s uniform rather than an actual detective. We think he is only role playing, which turns us girls on and then we proceed to remove his clothing. Lucky me!
I loved playing a character that breaks the stereotype of the subservient, soft-spoken Asian girl. I had so much fun playing such a free-spirited, bold, and outrageous character. During my initial audition, after performing, one of the producers asked, “Wow that seemed so natural for you!” I think one of my biggest assets is my willingness to make bold, off-the-wall choices because not much embarrasses me.
3. Are Asians represented enough in the industry nowadays and what challenges do you face as an actress?
Unfortunately no. Although Asians make up about 6% of the US population, only 2% of the roles we see on screen are played by Asians. So, to match our demographics, we would need three times more Asian roles cast. Luckily with the dramatic increase of Chinese consumerism, there are more bridges being built between American and Chinese filmmaking and collaborations.
Although the stereotypes are still very prevalent of what Asian-Americans should be—submissive, play piano, and excel at Math, I’m very fortunate that I often get to audition for open ethnicity roles. I also love reversing the audience’s expectations when they look at me. In my roles, I am constantly trying to break the “Asian stereotype.” Growing up, I was called “chink,” “yellow,” and people always assumed I was the super studious Chinese do-gooder nerd. I’ve played characters that were off-the-wall and absolutely ridiculous, very non-traditional Asian characters. That’s why I see myself and get cast as “Spunk and ridiculousness wrapped up in one innocent looking Asian gal.”
4. You’re a regular now on TV with appearances in “Days Of Our Lives” and “2 Broke Girls”. Why do you think the world is now so fascinated with women on television?
I thought the world was always interested in seeing women on television. It’s hard for me to imagine a show or movie with an all-male cast. Women can bring even more vulnerability, femininity, strength, etc.
5. On that note would you ever do a nude scene if it’s an integral part to a role?
Currently, I only do two things in the nude—shower and sleep. Depending on what the nudity does in the context of the storyline, I could possibly be open to doing a nude scene.
6. With the entertainment scene in Korea being hot in so many ways, would you consider being cast in a Korean movie or even sing in Korean?
Unfortunately I can’t speak Korean, but I am fluent in Mandarin. I love combining traveling and filming, so I’d definitely be open to shooting in other countries, like Korea.
7. Tell us about your life away from the camera?
A few years ago, I founded a career coaching/marketing company for actors, Career ACTivate (www.careerACTivate.com) to help other actors live their dreams. I’ve worked in casting, producing, agency, co-founded a national film festival, etc. so I bring my insider’s knowledge to help actors create breakthroughs in their careers. I’m about to author my first book, and will be making it available to my mailing list for free (readers can sign up at http://www.careerACTivate.com)
In my leisure time, I love staying active (ex. Competitive dodgeball, I quarterback in flag football, and Crossfit) and I’m a huge fan of board games (I can be quite dorky).
8. In your opinion, what does it mean to be an entertainer? Can you let us in on any future projects?
I’m compelled to change the world through story. I believe stories help show what’s possible in the world, and in our relating to the characters we see on screen, it helps us come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and realize we are not alone in our struggles.
Growing up in few communities that were not as friendly to Asian Americans combined with how shy I was; I had a difficult time making friends and I would suffer from loneliness. But, I could turn on the TV and find solace in watching characters who struggled with feeling alienated and seeing them triumph over the adversity they faced.
I feel it is my mission to help unify this world and show how we can come together and celebrate diversity as oppose to allow it to tear us apart and create separation.
My upcoming projects include a horror variety show (first season will air on http://www.planethopper.tv in mid-November) and also a series lead in an Asian-American webseries comedy. I will be updating my website with news—www.jona-xiao.com
Thank you Jona for this interview and for showing you fun, lovable personality.
It’s breathtaking to see an actress who is so versatile and the very beautiful STEPHANIE ERB has enchanted in everything she’s done. Of course, most will remember her sizzling up “Two and A Half Men” in that memorable tease of a scene involving cleavage and Jon Cryer’s Alan Harper sheepishly uttering Barbara’s Mams…:) While countless are already fond of her thanks to her comedic appeal and effusive allure, many more will love that she takes on roles that has many layers. Check out the STEPHANIE ERB OFFICIAL SITE for more of her amazing work both on TV and film. Thanks to Stephanie, I’ve managed to score this interview with her which is an honor!
1. Tell us what was it like working on hit shows such as True Blood, The Mentalist” and “Bones”
Well, each show has a different style and mood on the set. TRUE BLOOD, as it often involves strange species of creatures, lots of blood, and some very silly crazy stuff, tended to be a fun environment overall. I think Alan Ball, the creator, has a lot to do with that. He is very aware that the show is pure entertainment and there seems to be very little room for diva behavior and everyone is treated very very well. For the wrap gift, the entire cast and crew got bicycles! He totally spoiled us! Great parties too….
THE MENTALIST was a great role and working with director Eric Laneuville was wonderful. I love playing the bad guy, especially because the bad behavior came out of left field. A nurse who kills her patients? And has a clear albeit crazy justification for doing so? Sociopaths are fascinating to play! Also, the tone of THE MENTALIST leaves a bit of room for humor, and I think humor is essential to make a drama work well.
BONES was a very sad and dramatic episode which was saved for airing on Veteran’s Day, as my character’s deceased husband was a very troubled vet in the script. Unfortunately, many on the set had the flu at that time (including ME), but in showbiz, you KEEP MARCHING and it was finished on schedule. The director Francois Velle was lovely and had to stage quite a large funeral scene at LA National Cemetery and it all went rather smoothly. All in all, I have been lucky that most of my TV experiences either offered lovely people, interesting roles, or both!
2. Can you give us a teaser on your upcoming projects and why did those roles appeal to you?
This summer, I am working on three films – - MISCHIEF NIGHT (dir. Richard Schenkman) , DO NOT DUPLICATE (dir. Aaron Mark) and THE LADY KILLERS (dir. Phil Leirness) — as well as a webseries called FLIP AND GLIB. The films are all different sorts of thrillers – ranging from the more bloody sort, to pyschological or comedic. All of them appealed to me because the directors and writers involved I consider quite talented and destined for greatness. Each character is very different too, which I love. One is an amiable aunt, one is a twisted producer lady, and the final one is a completely drugged-up victim sort. I always say my dream career would be something like that of Johnny Depp or Geoffrey Rush or Gary Oldman – playing all sorts of characters and perhaps some that aren’t really in my domain. FLIP AND GLIB is funny. I love comedy and I think the world needs it.. so I was happy to work with director Mark Taylor and go for quirky, often spontaneous and silly humor. Onstage I love comedy too. Nothing makes me happier than making my fellow humans laugh!
3. What’s the funniest incident that has happen on set and what has been your most memorable experience?
That is such a hard question to answer. Funny things happen all the time on sets. I would have to make a list. Watching Jack Black and Kyle Gass improv and goof around on the set of TENACIOUS D and THE PICK OF DESTINY was hilarious (and Amy Adams got a head full of goo by accident in one take, and of course, it made the cut). Messing with Tom Hanks’s pants zipper on NAKED TRUTH long ago on TV was pretty memorable because he was already a huge star and rarely did TV – the audience went bananas! (it can be seen on my website http://www.stephanieerb.com if you find the hidden “head” of Tom Hanks on my reels page). You have to remember also that people are on set for a LONG time and can get very punchy and EVERYTHING seems funny. Alexander Skarsgard from TRUE BLOOD spontaneously burped after sipping blood from an aorta he pulled out of someone’s chest on TRUE BLOOD and at the time it was HILARIOUS. Kind of gross, when you think about it too hard.
My most memorable experience has to be one of my first on-camera jobs. Shooting FEARLESS with Peter Weir and Jeff Bridges was a dream come true. Both of these men were caring, creative artists I had only dreamed of meeting before I was actually working with them (I had put them on a “wish list” when I first moved to LA). Every day was not only a huge learning experience for me, but set the quality bar very high as the work was meticulous and thoughtful and at times, due to the content, harrowing..(some of the shoot involved reenacting a plane crash, and ever since then, I am not able to fly without freaking out at the slightest turbulence). I would love very much to work with both of them again!
4. Who is the actor or actress you most want to work with and why?
Hmm…. I would have to make a list… some I want to work with because I think they are stunning AND funny and talented… Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr fit in that category… also icons like Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. So many UK actors I admire, but I also admire the way actors are treated and trained in the UK.
Those who have a flair with language, humor and have quirkiness at their disposal really appeal to me. I have worked extensively in theatre, and I tend to prefer actors who have some chops in that arena as well. There are also tons of directors I would love to work for, but that is another category!
5. What’s Stephanie Erb like away from the camera and what are your passions in life?
I am a mostly down-to-earth person. I love my friends and family and my work. I have just recently fallen in love with dogs and I don’t really know how I lived without having a pup by my side! I love doing live theatre when I can (although it is very time-consuming and very rarely lucrative, the latter being a pity), I love to travel when I can, and adore all sorts of cuisine. I am happiest when acting in some capacity though, as I have tried many other jobs in the past and seem to be only suited for this one! My father was a well-known classical composer and I think I get a lot of my drive to be creative from him. I try to do work for charities whenever asked and as I am able – and I love talking to fans – they are what keeps my industry going! I truly am concerned for the environment and wildlife on this planet (and I include humans in that wildlife category). I just recently got solar panels and wish they were provided to everyone! Compassion for each other and the planet are truly essential.
Thanks for the interview Haren! Lovely to meet you!