We caught up with Lucille Soong, who plays Grandma Huang on ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat. Since the first season, her character has charmed audiences with her humor, hipness, and Mandarin-speaking ways. The show is now in its fourth season and airs on Monday nights.
Soong answered some questions via email.
What made you want to become an actor?
I am an accidental actress. It just happened in my life. When I moved from Hong Kong to London, I was walking to shop for grocery in the street. An agent chased me and approached me to go to Spain for a movie’ 55 days at Peking. This is the second time I was put in a movie so it seemed that was my fate.
You’ve acted in movies with Orson Welles, Ava Gardner and Sammy Davis, Jr. What were those experiences like?
When Ava Gardner was filming she did not allow people watch her on set. As for Sammy Davis Jr., he was the nicest actor, very considerate and giving.
I was 23 years old. It was my first job and first time in an English movie Ferry To Hong Kong. Orson Welles played the captain of the ferry boat. I played the newly married honey moon couple. He was very friendly and called me’ “the bride.” I just left China one and half years ago and I hardly spoke English. I smiled a lot during filming on that ferry boat for two months. I learned how to be a non-speaking actor.
How do you think the media landscape has changed over the decades, as far as opportunities for Asian American actors and representation?
It has changed tremendously. When I was filming 55 Days At Peking in 1962. The studio cast an English actress to play the Chinese empress. Now we have Asian actors to play Asians. It has been a long journey.
Your character on brings a lot of humor and joy to the show. What’s your favorite thing about playing Grandma Huang?
My role as a grandma in a wheelchair in Fresh Off The Boat is so much fun. She has so many different faces. She is kind, smart, and crafty. An interesting old lady pass on her wisdom to her grandsons.
What was it like working with George Takei?
George Takei is very amusing.
What kinds of reactions have you received from fans, family members and friends based on your role on the show?
I often meet fans in stores, restaurants, everywhere and asked for selfies. They all tell me they love my character the most: “you are my favorite.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?