Interview With RICH TING | A True Warrior
Since we are all unique human beings, we all have our own perception of things and ways of living. A true Warrior is often defined by physical actions, but beyond that, it is also a mindset which one united with another will bring the highest results. When we do and act from an inspired action, which always starts from within, you will manifest the best version of yourself in a physical form. When we believe in our unlimited power, the outcome will continuously expand into limitless possibilities of our becoming.
In this inspiring interview, you will discover that actor Rich Ting is a true Warrior. Not only because he is portraying Bolo, the real-life character close friend of martial arts legend Bruce Lee in the new series Warrior, but because through his real-life experiences he uses his soul and mind as one.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Rich Ting?
Rich Ting is a 4th generation Chinese-Japanese American who was born in Torrance, CA, and grew up in both Southern and Northern California. At the age of 4-years old, he began his training and studying of Tae Kwon Do, earning his 1st-degree black belt at the age of 13-years old. Raised in an athletic family, Ting earned Varsity letters in all four sports in high school: football, basketball, baseball, and track. While his parents stressed the importance of balancing both academics and athletics, Ting’s childhood dream was to earn an athletic scholarship and play Division 1 college football. That dream became a reality when he was recruited by various Pac 10 (currently the NCAA Pac 12 Conference) and Ivy League colleges, ultimately committing to play football at Yale University. The son of a sports orthopedic surgeon, Ting fulfilled all of his pre-medical requirements but his true academic interest lay in the humanities. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in History/American Studies continuing his academic studies in graduate school, where he earned both J.D. & M.B.A. degrees.
Rich Ting is a Gemini. While many judge a book by its cover, Ting’s closest friends would say he is not only the comic relief of the group but a humble and appreciated person. Throughout his childhood, Ting’s mother always preached about the Japanese notion of “bachi” (commonly known as karma) and living a positive, healthy life. She would often teach him life lessons by intimidating and scaring him explaining that every negative act committed would return and punish that person tenfold. This simple principle of “bachi” has continued to shape and influence Ting in his day-to-day decisions, actions, and overall mentality to live a humble, appreciative, and healthy lifestyle.
- What comes to your mind when you think about the process of the first thought to become an actor until now living your dream as a reality?
I had two childhood dreams: (1) play collegiate football and (2) become an actor in Hollywood. To be honest, I never thought the second one would ever come true. I remember being 4-years old and watching Bruce Lee on beta tapes in our family’s living room. I would watch, study, and rewind the tapes over and over again to memorize Bruce’s movements and weaponry skills. Growing up, I always questioned why there was an absence of Asian American leading men in film and on television. Bruce Lee was obviously Asian but he spoke with an accent, and I could not truly identify with him beyond the martial arts aspect of his character. Having such a tremendous impact on individuals like myself as well as millions around the world, I always dreamt of having an opportunity to pursue acting and hopefully impact other Asian American kids that (like myself) were looking for relatable characters on the big screen and small screen in which they could identify and relate to. As I reflect on my acting career thus far in the industry, I can only attribute it to the principle my parents preached to me as a child: always keep working no matter what you do. Throughout my life as a student, athlete, and now actor, I have continued to live by this principle always working and persevering through both the positives and negatives in any given situation. It has been an incredible journey since I began acting, and I am grateful for all the opportunities as well as friendships and relationships this industry has afforded me. I continue to stay committed every day to work and pursuing my craft no matter what lies ahead because “running water never grows stale, so you just gotta keep on flowing.” – Bruce Lee
- As an actor, you probably have experienced many auditions with a variety of outcomes. How do you evolve during the process of auditioning regardless of the final result?
I think auditions are the most difficult part of being an actor. In the beginning, it can be extremely intimidating to enter a casting office and audition in front of casting directors, producers, writers, etc. However, throughout the years, I have learned to embrace these opportunities and focus completely on the positives that lie within the audition rooms. Each audition an actor gets is a gift and as a result, I treat each and every audition whether it is a sitcom or major motion picture exactly the same. Casting directors, producers, and writers are calling you in to audition for them because they believe you are a potential choice for their project. In this hectic industry, no one has time to waste and as a result, I believe that you must always prepare and fully commit to that audition at the best of your ability. As I mentioned before, auditions are gifts, and my preparation and performance in the room is my way of saying “Thank You” for the opportunity, time, and consideration. My process of auditioning has evolved from being nervous and anxious to now being gracious and humbled for the opportunity to be seen and considered.
- Practicing sports, modeling and doing acting seems to be very different activities. Did you find something they all have in common that contributed to your personal and professional expansion?
Accountability. Whether it is going to class, training in the gym, rehearsing for a scene, or just eating healthy, all contribute and affect my performance on the field and in front of the camera. People often ask me how all of my academic and athletic careers prepared me for the entertainment industry. My answer is always the same. No matter what you do in life, you have to have the self-discipline to wake up and be on time for work. You have to prepare and be committed to your responsibilities whether that is studying for a test or having your lines memorized for a scene. You have to be accountable to yourself and to the people around you.
- You will star as Bolo in the new Cinemax series Warrior which premiered its first episode April 5, 2019. When you read the script for the first time, what was the most exciting for you about the idea behind its plot?
It has been such an honor to be not only cast for this amazing project but to also be playing the real character of martial arts legend and close friend of Bruce Lee, Bolo Yeung. This project has impacted me in so many ways due to my childhood connection with Bruce Lee, as he was the sole reason for why I began studying martial arts at the age of 4-years old and continues to be one of my lifelong idols. Having the opportunity to work with his daughter, Shannon Lee, as well as director/executive producer, Justin Lin, executive producer, Danielle Woodrow, and writer/showrunner, Jonathan Tropper, words cannot express how honored I am to bring to life an idea, vision, and dream of the legendary martial artist and my childhood idol, Bruce Lee. Ironically, throughout my life, I have often been referred to and called Bolo or Chong Li from my family, close friends, and numerous athletic teammates. Known for his notorious characters in Enter the Dragon and Blood Sport, Bolo Yeung has been someone I have also idolized due to his muscular physique and overall strong character acting. Without giving away any secrets of Season 1, the most rewarding part of being cast as Bolo was the fact that all the producers and writers told me that I did not have to mimic or imitate the real Bolo. They stressed that I was cast for this particular role because of who I am and what I could bring to the character as Rich Ting. That being said, I had the freedom to interpret and create a version of Bolo that was very true to me as well as attributing certain qualities to the original Bolo Yeung. I also enjoyed focusing on the specific Hungar Kung Fu style that stresses the principle of “minimum movement for maximum impact.” Only a select few of the characters in Warrior have a backstory of being trained martial artists, each with their own specific style of fighting. This combination of unique martial arts styles throughout Season 1 provides the audience with an amazing arc and variety of fight choreography and action sequences that we are all extremely proud of.
- Warrior was an original idea of the legendary Bruce Lee, passed on to his daughter Shannon. How would you describe Bruce’s legacy?
Bruce Lee’s legacy is one that has transcended racial and cultural boundaries throughout the entire world. Like many others, he was the first Hollywood action figure that influenced me and motivated me to begin my martial arts training at the age of 4-years old. As I grew up and began to focus on his life lessons and teachings as a martial artist, Bruce not only impacted me as a martial artist but as a human being. I remember one day when we were filming in Cape Town, South Africa. It was my day off, and I had called an Uber to go to a local market. My Uber driver was an older South African man who was very nice and asked me where I was visiting from and what I was doing in Cape Town, business or pleasure. I briefly mentioned that I was filming a television series, and it was written by Bruce Lee. The man literally pulled over and stopped the car. He turned around and began telling him how when he was a child in South Africa, he and his childhood friends would sneak into the “white” theaters to watch Bruce Lee films. Because they were prohibited by law to go into these “white” facilities, he explained that Bruce Lee was so awesome that he and his friends did not care of the dangerous consequences that might result for being caught in these theaters. They would then mimic and imitate Bruce’s moves and sounds in their specific townships where they lived. The man continued to talk about his vivid memories of Bruce Lee and how much they saw him as a hero since he was a man of color like them. I will never forget this encounter because of the passion and joy that this older gentleman spoke of what Bruce Lee meant to him as a black man growing up during apartheid in South Africa. Bruce’s philosophies and on-camera performances not only affected kids like myself in California but also those thousands of miles away in an apartheid ruling government country of Africa. His teachings and way of thinking were ahead of its time and Warrior is the perfect example of how we have been able to not only continue his legacy but to honor and thank him for all that he has contributed to the world.
- What emotions do you feel about being part of making this project come alive?
As I previously mentioned, Bruce Lee was the sole reason why I began my martial arts training as a young child. Hearing about the history and creation of Warrior through documentaries and interviews of Bruce, I am exceptionally honored and humbled to be a part of this project. I remember watching one interview in which Bruce discussed the notion of “The Warrior” and how it will never be made because it stars an Asian leading man. He continues to explain how Hollywood was not ready for an Asian leading man in the 1970s and as a result, the project would never be made. Almost 50 years later with the culmination of his daughter, Shannon Lee, Justin Lin, Danielle Woodrow, Jonathan Tropper, HBO, and Cinemax, words cannot describe the feeling of being a part of making Bruce Lee’s vision come to reality. I believe that it is extremely rare to be granted an opportunity to not only attribute one’s childhood and lifelong idol and role model but to contribute to prolonging the legacy of that particular idol and role model. I have always had dreams of acting in Hollywood, working for certain directors and producers, filming at specific studios, etc., but never did I once imagine that I could contribute and honor the legacy of the most famous and well-known martial artists of all time. Being cast as Bolo in Warrior represents the biggest win of my career thus far as I am portraying the most iconic and hyper-masculine Asian character known throughout the world in a TV series written and created by the greatest martial artist of all time. I would never have imagined I would be given such an opportunity as a 4-year old child watching both Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung in Enter of the Dragon.
- What was your mental and physical process of becoming Bolo, how did you feel him through you?
In our initial meeting at HBO headquarters in Santa Monica, CA, Shannon Lee (executive producer), Justin Lin (executive producer), Danielle Woodrow (executive producer), and Jonathan Tropper (writer and showrunner) all emphasized that they were impressed with my martial arts background but cast me based on my audition performance. While the character of Bolo is a tribute to the real Bolo Yeung, longtime friend and co-star of Bruce Lee as well as the notorious, Chong Li, in the Blood Sport, they wanted me to bring my own character and depth to Bolo. In preparing for this project, I did extensive work and training combining character choices and context for my character as Bolo.
Typically throughout my acting career thus far, I have always trained and worked out in the gym to maintain certain physical size and physique. As with any project that involves fighting or physical training requirements, I believe that my background in sports and athletics, as well as martial arts, represents an additional tool and skill set that I am able to bring to the character. Focusing primarily on the character and depth of the character, I believe that my athletic background serves as a bonus. For Warrior, I remember Justin Lin asking me if I could put on about 10lbs of extra muscle without losing flexibility or fluidity of motion. It was the first time in my acting career that a producer asked me to gain weight and gave me the freedom to work out and train in the gym. It was music to my ears. Since playing Pop Warner football at the age 8-years old to win an Ivy League Championship at Yale University, I have always enjoyed working out and being in the weight room. It is my “iron paradise.” I began to shift and adjust my weight training as well as physical conditioning in the gym immediately. I began to feel the effects of working out with heavier weights almost instantaneously as it definitely affected my mental state as well. I felt stronger, healthier and just overall more balanced in my life. I felt like I was training back in the day during my collegiate football days. The shift in my physicality definitely impacted and added to my character analysis and portrayal of Bolo.
- Was it something particularly unique about the cast and filming the series? If so, how do you think that will be reflected in the final result of the project?
It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with such a diverse group of extremely talented actors. Having actors from all over the world, including Canada, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, United Kingdom, South Africa, and the U.S., definitely impacted and influenced the positive vibe and excitement while filming due to the overall diversity, culture, and energy that each specific actor brought to set. More importantly, we literally all got along like a family on and off-camera. Families, loved ones, significant others, etc. of each actor all visited and stayed in Cape Town throughout our duration of filming, allowing us the opportunity to get to know each other as well as their families extremely well. Because we were on location in Cape Town, South Africa filming this incredible project, the entire cast always socialized and got together for lunch, dinner, coffee, etc. with each other quite frequently. I.e. we all went on various excursions to beaches, wineries as well as participate in daily stunt training with our stunt team and coordinators. This sense of overall family and love that we developed for one another definitely resonated onto the screen. Our commitment to not only ourselves but to each other was not only contagious but also evident after viewing the entire Season 1. I truly believe that each and every one of us are extremely proud and humbled by this opportunity to honor and tribute the greatest martial artist and philosopher of all time.
- Captain Iijima is the character you portray on the Amazon original series Man in the High Castle which will premiere its 4th Season this Spring. What plans does Captain Iijima have for himself?
In Season 4 of The Man in the High Castle, Captain Iijima arrives from Japan as Chief Inspector Kido’s new right-hand man. He is a loyal captain for the Imperial Japanese military regime and serves to carry out the commands and desires of the head Japanese officials back in Japan. Throughout the final season, Captain Iijima’s loyalty, as well as motives to Chief Inspector Kido, will become questioned as the murder investigation of the assassination of a significant character continues to reveal new evidence of who ordered the hit as well as the overall murder plot.
- As an actor, you become someone else and have the opportunity to study a personality from different perspectives. Has this in any way impacted your personal growth?
I believe that everything in my past, including my academic studies, athletics, extracurricular activities as well as acting in the entertainment industry have all impacted and influenced my personal growth and maturity. Whether it was growing up as a 4th generation Asian American kid in California or discussing politics in small seminar groups at Yale University or rehearsing for mock trials in law school have all allowed me the opportunity to experience and study all personalities from all perspectives. Acting has provided me with yet another channel to which I can learn, absorb, and apply to better my personal growth, maturity, and overall craft. I believe that everything I have done up until the present time has equipped and given me the various tools to not only succeed in life but to also apply to each distinct character I play. I have always considered myself a “student” no matter what industry or profession I pursue. I have continued to live my life with an open mind as I have personally experienced the positive advantages of being a “sponge” and absorbing as much information and perspectives that I can throughout all the diverse experiences that I have encountered and been fortunate enough to experience in the entertainment industry.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is The Essence of a Joyful Living. How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I believe that the essence of joyful living is essential to life and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Positive energy is extremely contagious and resonates throughout those who exert it. Not only have I been raised by a mother who has always preached positivity and being a kind human being, but she has always stressed that by working hard and being a “good” person will ultimately lead me to success and living a positive joyful life. This upbringing and overall mentality has definitely affected my creative process throughout my acting career. In this entertainment industry, there is an abundance of rejection, criticism, hate, jealousy, and negative energy. It has been especially crucial for me to always stay focused and concentrated on the positives of the industry and my career in order to prevent being jaded or strayed from my career path. I believe in celebrating all wins whether small or large in order to keep the positive energy and overall joy of working in this highly competitive and difficult industry flowing. By focusing on the positives and having a humble attitude definitely resonates whether you are in a casting office, meeting with directors and producers, on set filming, or just hanging out in the hair and makeup trailers at base camp. I have been grateful for each and every opportunity this industry has afforded me, and I am forever in debt for all the amazing individuals and exotic places that I have encountered and experienced as a result of living my dream as a Hollywood actor.
- When you hear: You can be, do and have anything you want, words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?
I believe that everyone who is successful in life at whatever they do has had some sort of luck on their side. However, I believe that one can only be lucky if they work and continue to work as hard as they possibly can at whatever they are pursuing in life. Luck does not come without action or perseverance. As a result, one can potentially place themselves in a situation with a higher percentage or chance of being, doing, and having what they want and desire by continuing to focus and work as hard as they possibly can.