Jordan Connor on Riverdale, acting, and his Chinese-Canadian heritage

The Riverdale star talks about his new web series, his career, and his recent engagement.

Jordan Connor knew he wanted to be an actor since he was 11.

He was hooked on acting ever since his grade school rendition of Guys and Dolls. Growing up acting in his school’s theatre program, he knew he wanted to be a part of the acting community but never thought it would be feasible that one day he would get to be on a TV show, let alone one of the biggest shows right now on TV. 

Cold Tea Collective’s Natasha Jung sat down with Connor to chat about his role as Vince on Hospital Show, how Riverdale impacted his career, and growing up with his mixed-Asian heritage.

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Hospital Show

Hospital Show is a web-based comedy series about the broken, deluded, narcissistic, and sad-but-lovable actors who play TV’s most respected doctors.

Connor plays Vince, an entitled, self-absorbed actor who believes he’s the stereotype of many things but remains likeable due to his ignorance of it all.

“We get to make fun of set experiences that we’ve actually had as actors and bring those to light a little bit while in the confines of this hospital drama set,” Connor says.

There’s a lightness and a sense of humour that comes through naturally in the show due in part to the actors knowing each other in passing or sharing mutual friends. According to Connor, the best part of the show was just being able to play and hang out with friends.

Although Vince is an exaggerated caricature, Connor can somewhat relate to Vince: “I’m sure I have a lot of similar insecurities as Vince — I just don’t wear them on my sleeve as much. I probably keep them under control a little bit more.”

The Riverdale Effect

Connor says the experience of playing Riverdale‘s Sweet Pea, a Southside Serpent enemy-turned-ally, was “hugely impactful.”

In the day and age of Netflix, the ubiquity of the platform opened up the audience of people who knew and watched every week as compared to a show that’s only shot and shown in North America.
Jordan Connor as Sweet Pea
Photo: Jordan Connor

On a more personal note, Connor went from working four jobs to having his dream job be his work:

“I was bartending in a restaurant, working for a marketing company, and selling cell phones at one point, so I always have to thank Riverdale for that, for giving me that first platform of opening up people to seeing who I am and what I can do.”

All of Connor’s favourite scenes involved Sweet Pea fighting somebody, destroying something, or yelling at someone because of the stark contrast to Connor’s real life personality. But mostly he appreciated how those scenes showed how Sweet Pea is invested in everything that he does.

“When Sweet Pea goes and destroys Riverdale High after Fangs gets shot from the riot — I love that scene. One, I got to throw a bunch of stuff around and smash the trophy case with a garbage can. But also at the same time, it felt like a very well-written scene, and I think it was very necessary to show the level to which Sweet Pea will go to protect his friends and family and what it means to him … It was a good moment for the character.”

As for when we’ll see Sweet Pea in the series next, Connor notes it was challenging to manage his shooting schedule for other jobs, but is constantly in talks with show writers to ensure Sweet Pea’s return to Riverdale makes sense for the story.

The Nuances of Cultural Diversity in Film

Photo credit: Jon Chan

Connor shares what he believes is perhaps an unpopular opinion: “If it doesn’t serve the story, I don’t think it’s really necessary to address what ethnicity somebody is.”

Some of his fellow actors agree with him:

Chris Pang (Crazy Rich Asians, Charlie’s Angels) believes that “the idea of diversity and representation is to normalize the image [of diversity].”

Come As You Are actor Hayden Szeto believes Asian-Americans being in movies shouldn’t be something new that we keep talking about. “The second we stop talking about it as a novelty is when it becomes normalized. That’s the goal of equality, [and] it looks great where we’re going now.” 

Whether a character’s ethnicity should written into the character is a polarizing topic, as we learned when we shared this article for discussion on Asian Creative Network on Facebook, which we invite our readers to participate in.

Connor recognizes that if the story itself is about the identity struggles of the character, their ethnicity plays a role in what happens in the story, or allows us to understand the character better, it’s definitely something to address.

Connecting to his Heritage

Connor’s father was born in Regina and is mostly of Chinese descent, mixed with Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Samoan and more. His mother is from Croatia, and when Connor did a DNA test, he learned that he also comes from Eastern European, Spanish, Greek, Italian, German and Native American roots.

In learning of these results, he asked himself: ‘How will this help me? Will it help me define myself more or discover more?’ And really it just made it more confusing, because what do I really connect to?”

In the last few years, he started to learn more about his family’s history through his grandmother, which inspired him to explore the history of Chinese Canadians, their role in Canadian history through building the Canadian Pacific Railway, and hopes to explore that through a film project of his own.

Jordan Connor
Photo credit: Jon Chan

On His Recent Engagement

When Connor isn’t working, he’s planning his wedding. A self-proclaimed romantic, he recently proposed to his long-time partner, Jinjara Mitchell, in Tofino, a sentimental ode to their first road trip together as a couple seven years ago. Hoping to shroud everything in secrecy, Connor suggested they head to Tofino for his birthday. His family, eager to be involved, had driven out there a day earlier.

On the big day, Connor convinced his girlfriend to take a walk down to the beach to watch the sunset while his nerves palpated off the charts:

“I didn’t know what to talk about, I didn’t know what to do, I was so nervous, I had this ring burning a hole in my pocket. So I ask her where she saw us in five years and she [looks at me as if to say] for crying out loud, he’s going to propose to me.” 

Thankfully Connor diverted her attention by claiming to want to take photos of her in the water:

“As she starts walking, I turned around and put the camera down, took the ring out and walked up to her. She asks where the camera is and I tell her ‘I didn’t want to take photos of you. I didn’t want to go on a walk. I actually wanted to do this.’”

She said ‘yes’ and we’re patiently waiting for our invitation to their wedding.

Into the Future

In the era of big-budget comic book films, Connor has a dream role in mind: “There’s a version of Wolverine who’s actually called Dark Wolverine — Daken, the half Asian, half white son of Wolverine. So if I could play him, that’d be pretty sweet.”

Outside of his role on Hospital Show, Connor currently stars as Kevin, one of the antagonists in Hulu’s TV adaptation of the John Green novel Looking for Alaska. But as for his future, Connor remains open.

“I don’t necessarily know what my future has in store, but my goal is to continue to do projects that really fit me and that I connect with on a deeper level,” said Connor.

Connor initially got into acting because he felt inspired by other actors, and hopes to pay it forward and inspire others to try acting as well. 

“I think overall, if I can inspire people to follow their dreams or do what they want to do, then I’m happy. But at the same time, it’d be awesome to win an Oscar.”

Jordan Connor
Photo: Jon Chan

Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

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