Regina Ting Chen is an actor based in Georgia. She began entertaining at home with talent shows for her grandmother crafted with only history project costumes and poster boards from science fairs. After getting scouted in Texas, she got her start in modeling, which led to theatrical and commercial auditions. As a result, she took up acting classes, and now has booked shows such as Queen of the South and Netflix’s Stranger Things! Offscreen, Chen works with Hope4Tomorrow, a mentorship program that provides foster children with a role model there to guide and listen. When she’s not performing or mentoring, she coaches kickboxing, plays tennis, and enjoys the world of sci-fi. Her advice to young artists? “Find a mentor, join a community, and start making stuff!” Read on to learn more about Regina Ting Chen and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Regina Ting Chen
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Current City: Atlanta, GA
What are some of your favorite credits/projects: Stranger Things, Queen of the South.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Find a mentor, join a community, and start making stuff!
How did you get your start?
I was scouted to model locally in Austin, TX which in turn led me to be signed by a talent agent. At that point, they told me to take acting classes so that I could go out for both commercial and theatrical auditions. As a kid, I wasn't allowed to study drama, so I just put on talent shows at home for my family during the holidays. I'd use failed science fair boards and costumes from history projects to put together choreographed dances and write my own mini-plays. My grandma was a non-English speaking immigrant who feared leaving the house, so I would tell her stories about my day so that she could live vicariously through me. All I ever wanted was to make her laugh and feel all the things I felt whether my stories were real or embellished, haha!
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
Booking my first anything is always such a magical moment. I remember the night I booked my first co-star role as a news anchor. I thought it was a spam email and I asked my agent if I should mark it as junk! HAHA! Stranger Things was a show I LOVED so booking a role in a show that I loved for the first time was so epic!
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Asian representation in multiple ways is a work in progress so having to fight through this hurdle day in and day out has been tough sometimes. But I really try to focus on the fact that no matter how my career ends up, the fact that I'm stepping forward in it at any capacity means that I'm forging the path for someone younger than me, who looks like me, to follow.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I'm a kickboxing coach. Huge sci-fi nerd. I play a lot of tennis. I'm claustrophobic and I'm afraid of the dark. Yes, I sleep with a night light that's basically the sun in my face, LOL.
Do you have any organizations or nonprofits you work with you’d like to highlight?
Hope4Tomorrow is a mentorship program that I am a part of and they do incredible work matching mentors with foster kids who really need the presence of a good adult example in their lives. Even just being there to listen to a foster child can change their lives drastically.
Do you have any mentors?
I do, I have several mentors. No matter what I've worked on in my life, I've been lucky to run into people who were willing to guide me unconditionally and help me through the highs and lows of my career. I hope to do the same for someone one day!
Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?
I actually went into the corporate world before I fell into acting. And I still have a day job that involves a lot of project management so that I can use that left side of my brain! I love being about to enjoy a survival job while simultaneously pursuing my acting career.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
I did commercials and indie projects for a long time and at one point, I thought I'd just take a break from acting, focus on the corporate world, make some good money, save it and come back a few years down the line. It was only then when I stepped away fully from acting that I realized within a month that I could never ever walk away from it again. I quit my job right away and found part-time remote work in order to still be able to pay my bills while going back to pursuing acting.
Is where you are now where you thought you’d be?
I actually don't think about where I'd be at what time of my life because I try to keep myself from disappointment. Instead, I strive to just keep daily goals of making sure everything I'm doing is setting me up for success when those opportunities come knocking down my door. This includes having a healthy active lifestyle, eating well, having a good community of friends, being financially stable, taking classes that help me elevate, etc.
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I can punch and kick that crap out of a punching bag, haha! And I paint pet portraits!
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Life gets harder so enjoy the good times, but you're always going to preserve.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Finding ways to turn a "no" into a new opportunity to improve. I don't get knocked down easily because I've always had the MO of if someone tells me no, I'll find another way to do it. I think that's really helped me persevere in this business and I won't stop! I am relentless.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I really hope to play a warrior-type role on a sci-fi show in my lifetime. I'm a nerd, I love all things Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Expanse, The Magicians, you name it. I would love to find myself in one of those universes as a lead!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love being a storyteller through my perspective in imaginary circumstances!
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane? What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?
I am a HUGE advocate of exercise. I 100% believe that exercise is not only for "keeping weight off" or "staying in shape." It goes a long ways – it will release endorphins to put you in a positive mood, you'll surround yourself with others who have that type of mentality as well, and you'll ultimately try to keep up with better eating/lifestyle habits if you are disciplined in your fitness and connected in your community of like-minded individuals. Before the pandemic, I was a kickboxing member at my local MMA gym. When the pandemic hit, I felt so lost without my crew and my exercise so I decided to put together an at-home kickboxing routine, film it, throw it up on youtube, and arrange weekly workout time slots where my crew would jump on zoom and we'd follow along the exercise video I created and workout together. This kept my crew in shape over the lockdown and also knowing that their friends are safe and still supportive even through a lens! When life went back to somewhat normal, I actually got hired on as a coach and I have the most popular class now at the gym!
What inspires you?
Hard work and resilience. I don't know a lot of people who have both so when I see it, even within myself, it'll light a fire under my ass!
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
When it hit me that I needed to move from Texas to Atlanta. That changed the course of my career for the rest of my life. It kick-started the path that I never knew I could achieve which is working with the big dogs! I can't wait to see what more will come.
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