Ama, Bà, Ayah, Cha — across the Asian diaspora, whatever you call him, our fathers and our relationships with them can have a profound effect on our lives. In a special Father’s Day feature, we ask some of our favourite Asians in entertainment about their relationships with their fathers and even find out about what it’s like for a new father.
For The Good Place star Manny Jacinto, Edge of Seventeen actor Hayden Szeto, and Marco Polo actor Leonard Wu, their fathers are people they look up to and have informed and supported their career paths in very different ways.
The Good Place star Manny Jacinto credits his work ethic to his dad’s leading example. Jacinto’s father was a civil engineer, which was the actor’s path before moving on to dancing and acting.
“Growing up, I would see pictures of him and his coworkers and out of 60 people, he was one of two Asian engineers in the company in the 90s.”
“I only realized it now, but it affected me subconsciously as a kid growing up,” reflected Jacinto.
When his dad was concerned about his career choice, he asked what Jacinto was going to do with dance, to which he responded to give him five years.
“If in five years I’m in the exact same place as I was when I started, then I’ll reconsider things in terms of what my future looks like. Luckily, things grew and moved forward and now he’s my biggest fan.”
Read our full interview with Manny Jacinto here.
At a very young age, Hayden Szeto knew he was a little bit different from his friends. Perhaps more artistic, more of an entertainer, more hilarious — and he got it from his father.
“Because my dad’s a painter, I would hold my pen like a traditional Chinese paintbrush and didn’t correct it until I was in ninth grade,” said Szeto.
An accomplished painter from a family of renowned visual artists from China, Szeto’s father was always working at home sketching or painting. Neighbours and friends coming to visit would be able to see his Chinese calligraphy and art from outside the house through the window.
“My friends would always ask to come in just to stand around him and watch him do his work.”
“My dad loves attention. This is where the actor in me came from. He played it up when I brought female friends over. For some reason he would be in a tank top painting,” Szeto laughed.
Jokes aside, Szeto’s father is also a proud Chinese-Canadian.
“My dad’s father and grandfather were scholars, and to this day makes sure we know about our history and our culture.”
To this day, he still doesn’t hold a pen correctly.
It’s been nearly a year since Leonard Wu has taken on the role of a lifetime — as a first-time father. In preparing for this new role, Wu sought advice from his friends.
“Everything that I heard from my friends who had recently become parents was that taking care of and raising an infant was sheer exhaustion — it’s probably 10 times worse than what I expected.”
Growing up, Wu notes traditional gender roles weren’t something his family subscribed to, which he carries forward in his marriage and parenthood today.
“One of the most important things my dad taught me about making a marriage work — even more so when you have a baby — is that you are a team and you help one another in whatever way is needed.”
“With the arrival of our daughter, it made it all the more important that I made sure that my wife was taken care of, as the recovery from childbirth, breastfeeding, exhaustion, and everything in between is something so incredibly painful and difficult for a mother,” said Wu.
Wu himself has also seen a transformation since becoming a father: “Some kind of primal instinct kicked in where my body found this reserve of energy and was able to go on 3-4 hours of sleep. Ironically, I find myself being way more efficient and productive with a baby now than I did before.”
Being a working actor with a young child is no easy feat. For Wu, an acting job is no longer just an acting job, it’s something way more complex and loaded.
“The idea of leaving my daughter and wife [to do a job] gives me a lot of anxiety, as I want to be here with them. Even if a gig isn’t a passion project of mine, if it allows me to stay close to home, then I’d consider that a win.”
Wu’s journey as a new parent has just begun and he hopes in leading by example with his acting career, he will teach his daughter how to be resilient.
“I think most actors can attest to having a successful booking rate of something around 1%. That’s a ridiculous failure rate. And yet, we keep doing it. I hope she’d look at that, and whatever she decides to do with her life, no matter what obstacles she may encounter to just keep going.”
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