We’re back for another installment of Name to the Face with actor Alex Yap-Young. You may recognize him from TLC’s Untold Stories of the ER, Investigation Discovery’s Fear thy Neighbor, or in a number of films on the festival circuit.
Alex’s enthralling mix of carefree creative and pragmatic philosophy make for captivating characters audiences are drawn to. With his recent star turn in Natasha Heschelle’s latest music video, and a recurring role in the upcoming tv mini-series Adulting, Alex Yap-Young will no doubt soon be a regular on our TV screens.
Read on to learn more about why he has a different approach for each role he takes on, how being behind the camera has informed his acting, and his refreshingly honest advice for fellow actors.
TM: What drew you to acting and when did you know you wanted to make a go at a career in it?
AYY: I think I was drawn to acting at a pretty young age. I remember writing scripts and short stories in elementary school and was naturally drawn to the performance side of things through writing. My grade 5 and 6 elementary school teachers really gave us a platform to be artistic, gave us that freedom, and really encouraged us to perform and be creative. At that point, it was always in the back of my mind as something I would love to do. I didn’t really take it seriously until after high school. I started taking classes in my early 20’s and doing small gigs here and there, but I never thought to pursue it full time. It was always a side thing up until my late 30’s, when I decided to give it a shot full time quitting my 9-5. I thought it was something worth trying as I’m not getting any younger and I really wanted to experience a life without a 9-5, fully focused on acting.
TM: Congrats on recently starring in Natasha Heschelle’s music video for her song Imagine, which has over 621,000 views and counting! What was that experience like? Did you find it much different from typical television shoots?
AYY: It was a great experience. A great crew, great dancers, and Natasha is a fantastic artist who is pretty much a triple threat. It’s a music video so there’s a bit more freedom to improvise and try things on the spot, unlike television, where you have to follow the script and lines. But, you still have to perform obviously, it’s just mostly non-verbal.
TM: Do you have any rituals when getting into character or is the process different for you with every role?
AYY: The process has been different for every role in my experience. My process is usually only the same for learning lines. I try to remain flexible and follow the director's vision. Every project and director is different, and I think I’m different for every project as well. I think that’s what makes it fun and also helps you grow, not just as an actor, but as a human being. Of course, I have certain techniques that I can use to focus or get me in a certain state for the scene, but sometimes those techniques might not work on a particular project for whatever reason, and I have to try something different. It all depends.
TM: In addition to acting you also write, direct, and produce your own content. Has that experience helped you as an actor in any way?
AYY: Yes and no. I was just writing and directing for most of my 20’s and 30’s. And understanding what works and doesn’t work on the other side of the camera informed me for being in front of the camera. It informed me more on the technical side of on-camera acting, like how much the camera picks up the smallest movements, or eye line stuff, things like that. But the performance side of acting, I don’t think writing and directing really helps with that, that usually gets better with practice and classes.
TM: What has been your favorite role to date?
AYY: My first appearance on national television I would say was one of my favorites. It was on a show called Untold Stories of the ER where I played a cop looking for a mother in the ER. This was such a great experience and I learned so much being on that set about how these large sets work. At the end of the day though, every role means something different to me.
Unlatched was special because it was one of my first roles I landed when I decided to get back into acting.
And then I have other films that I’ve been a part of that were just the most fun experiences, but didn’t necessarily go anywhere afterward. Or films where I met someone very special and created life long friendships with or films where I was really challenged as an actor. So, every role brought something different.
If we are talking about just the craft of acting and a certain character I enjoyed playing, I would have to say my most recent in Joel & Julia, where I played a husband talking to his wife at a diner in different stages in their life and this is because of the range of emotions and the variety involved in the film that made it super challenging, fun and rewarding.
TM: What is your dream role? Are there any current shows you’d love to work on and why?
AYY: I would love to play a serial killer. I think it would be fun to go there and explore the shadow. Or be a part of a film that explores the nature of reality, something very philosophical and makes you change your perception about things.
I’d like to work on shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love shows that allow some improvisation, that’s always fun. Ozark , because I love the writing and maybe Succession because I love everything about that show from the writing, direction, acting, ..everything.
TM: Are you a binge-watcher? What’s the last series you binged?
AYY: I started watching The Affair again recently. I think I stopped at season 3 about 2 years ago and just recently started season 4. And Wahl Street, the reality show following Mark Wahlberg’s business ventures.
TM: Can you tell us more about your upcoming short Joel and Julia? When and where can our audience check it out?
AYY: Joel & Julia is special because I co-produced and starred in it. A lot of the themes hit home for me. There were so many cool things about it, like you see this guy and his life through two decades and how he changes every 5 years. It also stars Andrea Pavlovic and Darius Rathe, two very talented actors. It’s written and directed by Adeel Shamsi, who has tremendous vision and is super talented. It's a short about the journey of Joel and Julia over a span of 15 years together. We see them at different stages in their life at the same diner just at different booths. We see how their relationship has changed, how they have changed, and it all ties together in the end. We are currently in post production and will be hitting the festival circuit most likely at the end of the year. I’m super excited about this one.
TM: Any words of advice for fellow actors of all ages?
AYY: You’ll get people telling you ‘go after dreams!’, ‘you can do it!’ and you will also get people telling you ‘it’s not practical’, ‘the odds are against you’. I say they are both right, but only you know what is good for you, what you need. Maybe it'll work out, maybe it won’t. But you won’t know until you try, and if it doesn’t ... IT IS OKAY.
Written by JessG on Sep 1, 2021