Interview with LI JUN LI | I Never Stop!
There is a duality with the idea of expecting the best outcome or no expectations at all, and probably both are valid based on the meaning and believes we have in connection with it. We all have dreams and we desire those dreams to become reality. While we are building the confidence that we can manifest our dreams, new desires are born within ourselves; it’s our natural evolution. It seems that we are never going to be done as we always want more; more happiness, more joy, more abundance in great ideas, more feeling good, more feeling love. We want our dreams to be manifested physically because we think that by having or experience them we will feel better. But what if we can create the feeling of it even before it has manifested? Then we sit back and wait for the surprise and delight of its unfolding to reality.
When we asked actress Li Jun Li what is her greatest desire at the moment and what are her expectations to manifest it, she said: “In my career, I’d love to continue this trajectory of playing strong, inspirational, layered and complex leading roles. I’m constantly training in both the craft and in martial arts. Never stop!”
In this interview, you will discover Li Jun Li’s journey to manifest a career that she loves, her values, as well as her passion for playing characters such as Jenny Wah on Netflix’s Wu Assassins.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Li Jun Li?
Very serious, but very funny.
- You were born in Shanghai, China and moved to Bogotá, Colombia before settling in New York. How have these different cultures influence your sense of self?
Being the only Chinese student in a school/classroom in a foreign country without speaking the language— twice. Being bullied and made fun of because of my ethnicity as a kid, has forced me to stand my ground and learn to navigate through difficult times. It’s made me a stronger person from a young age.
- The entertainment industry is a reflection of the talents who work within it. What impact do you think the industry has on growing diversity and inclusion?
It’s been a slow but positive progression. We’re obviously moving towards the right direction, and there’s been a lot of conversations about it lately. However, I don’t want this to be a trend, as trends end. Inclusivity should be the norm. This isn’t over until we stop talking about it.
- On Netflix’s Wu Assassins, which premiered in August, you play Jenny Wah, a young businesswoman who has taken over her family restaurant and must negotiate running the business and maintaining her family’s culture. What do you admire most about Jenny and how does it feel to you becoming her?
It’s extremely rewarding to play a strong female lead, someone who on the surface is ambitious, intelligent, devoted to her family’s well being and traditions yet is also deeply flawed with universal personal struggles. I love Jenny’s fierce loyalty, perseverance, and tenacity in protecting her loved ones. I love the feedback we’ve gotten: Asian Americans sharing the same struggles of juggling family values, difficulty expressing love and affection towards their relatives, all the while living in western culture.
- Jenny must deal with the pressures of being an ideal Chinese daughter and carries a lot of the burden of her family’s expectations. If you were Jenny in real life, how would you feel your way through a similar situation?
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but in my experience, I’ve learned that in American culture, you are on your own once you reach the age of eighteen: the year into adulthood. Your parents stop supporting you, and for many, will no longer be responsible for your educational financial needs. You move out after college, and start your own life, visiting your parents occasionally on holidays.
In Chinese culture, in my experience at least, your parents take care of you until you are able to take care of yourself. They will pay for your education and your rent until you are on your own two feet— in which then the tables will turn. My generation and before, many “established” kids will to send money back home, visit often, have weekly dim sum with family, and take care of their parents until the end because to us it is paying them back for giving us the gift of life. It might sound quite dramatic to some, and I obviously can’t speak for everyone since our lives differ under different circumstances. But, this I believe in with the core of who I am, of where I came from, and I live it with pride.
- The show follows Kai, a chef who finds out he is a Wu Assassin, a group chosen to fight the ones abusing the Wu powers, the evil Triad. What role do the Wu Assassins and the Triad play in Jenny’s life?
Hah! I can’t tell you that! You’d have to watch it!
- What is Jenny’s relationship with martial arts?
Jenny, Kai, Lu Xin, and Tommy grew up together and all trained in martial arts. Each character has their own style, Jenny being in MMA. It is her outlet, and she participates in underground fight clubs to burn off suppressed anger from being the responsible one her family dumps everything on.
- Jenny and her brother Tommy have a love/hate relationship, as she is very composed, and he has a hard time maintaining stability in his life. What are Jenny’s feelings about Tommy?
The two of them have so much love for each other but can’t figure out just how to show it. It is a detail we made sure was put into the script and carried onto the screen, as Asians are not very affectionate and practice “tough love.” Although later in the series, Jenny is put in a position where she will stop at nothing to protect her brother, yet his lack of desire to be saved leaves Jenny in a perpetual cycle of doom.
- What is your greatest desire at the moment and what are your expectations to manifest it?
In my career, I’d love to continue this trajectory of playing strong, inspirational, layered and complex leading roles. I’m constantly training in both the craft and in martial arts. Never stop!
- Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I am a huge advocate in stopping the Dog Meat Trade that takes place in many countries in Asia. My hero is Marc Ching, who founded The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation. https://www.animalhopeandwellness.org/. In the beginning, he single-handedly flew to remote areas in Asia with efforts to not only rescue the dogs that are stolen pets or farmed for a purposefully brutal slaughter, but negotiates with owners for them to give up their businesses. For example, he has managed to transform dog slaughterhouses into vegetarian noodle shops. But he has also put his life in danger having been threatened with machetes.
Here back home, I try very hard to always use only cruelty-free products. Especially leather bags and shoes, where for generations we’ve been taught to believe it was the best and only option without thought to how it’s produced. I am constantly on the look-out for companies who create products that are not only cruelty-free, but where the production process also does not impact the environment. A lot of my bags are made with recycled plastic bottles! We’ve already done enough damage to the environment, it is time we educate ourselves and make conscientious decisions to save our own planet.
- 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?
Not many people have the luxury of loving what they do in their careers. I am incredibly lucky and grateful I get to do what I love. Waking up at 3 am to work long hours on set brings me so much fulfillment, because it is the payoff for my hard work, and in return, unlike Jenny Wah, is my perpetual cycle of joy.
- When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words from the Abraham-Hicks teachings, what is your take on such a statement?
Well, if it only were that easy. With everything that is important to you, comes with years of hard work, rejection, failures, and disappointments. But if you do your work, and you persevere, then good things will find you and you’ll be ready.