Interview with RICH TING | As I Focus on the Positive, I Feel More Joyful
It is exciting and thrilling that we, all human beings are continuously expanding to become more. As we accomplish a desire, we always aim for more, it’s our natural evolution. We are innately creative beings gifted with the art of imagination through which we create our world. Being alive is more than having consciousness flowing through us, it is being aware of it and appreciate every moment for having the freedom to feel good, unless we decide to not. Actions that come from inspiration, love, happiness, and joy will bring extraordinary results. If there is any effort and hard work to be done is to align with yourself by focusing on the things you love, and in that state, regardless of the energy you are spending on various activities, you will always be satisfied with yourself and life.
Actor Rich Ting, who can be seen as Captain Iijima on the Amazon original series Man in a High Castle airing its 4th and final season now, says: “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.”
In this insightful interview with Rich, the actor shares his thoughts about life, his personal growth and his passion and love for what he does.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Rich Ting?
Rich Ting is a fourth-generation Chinese-Japanese American who was born in Torrance, CA and grew up in both Southern and Northern California. At the age of four, he began his training and studying of Tae Kwon Do, earning his first-degree black belt when he was only thirteen. Raised in an athletic family, Ting earned Varsity letters in 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-med 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 appreciative 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 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 grateful and healthy lifestyle.
- How has being an actor, the process of becoming someone else, contributed to your personal growth?
Throughout my career as an actor, “acting” or the process of becoming someone else has definitely contributed to my personal growth. Stemming from my training in my actors’ studio in Los Angeles, CA, I always try to bring as much truth, honesty, and overall, a realness to all the characters that I play. However, in order to be completely successful in portraying and embodying each and every distinct character, there is a tremendous amount of self-discovery and personal dissection that must occur within me first. If I am not completely honest and transparent to myself, then it is impossible to bring any form of truthfulness to the character I am portraying. As a result, I have done -and will continue to do- a tremendous amount of self-study, reflection, and analysis of myself and all of my experiences and personal adversarial situations that I have encountered thus far in my life. The process of becoming someone else has allowed me the opportunity to connect to a deeper and more vulnerable layer in myself that has ultimately freed me of any “walls” or other protective shields that I may have developed throughout my childhood and early adult years. I am truly thankful and grateful for the numerous opportunities that acting has given me to learn more about myself as well as mature and grow not only as an actor but as a human being.
- The entertainment industry is rapidly becoming more inclusive and diverse in its content. How do the talents within the industry can continue to positively impact the audience?
I believe that the entertainment industry has slowly evolved regarding the stereotypical roles for minority actors. As an Asian American actor, for example, I believe that writers and directors have begun to see past the historic stereotypical roles for Asian actors and are now allowing Asians as well as other underrepresented minorities to play roles and characters not typically written for minorities. Prior to my career as an actor, I often asked myself (1) why there was not a famous “Asian American” leading man and (2) why were all Asian actors (like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan) martial artists or characters that could fight and fly through the air. Legends like Bruce Lee definitely inspired and motivated me (as well as millions around the world) to pursue the study of martial arts but I was always curious why there was never an Asian American “dad,” “boyfriend,” “policeman,” “firefighter,” “lawyer,” or “hero.” All of my childhood friends had favorite actors that they could relate to ethnically and racially, however, I could never find that one Asian American leading man that represented my “hero.” As a result, I have had two dreams/goals: (1) the dream and pursuit of becoming not only an Asian American actor but a leading man in Hollywood and (2) represent that leading Asian American man (that I was always searching to find as a child) to Asian American kids as well as other minorities throughout the globe. If I can affect, influence, motivate or inspire one Asian American or minority kid in the world by my performance on the big screen then that would be the ultimate win for me as an actor in Hollywood. As the entertainment industry continues to be more inclusive and diverse in its content, more and more viewers of all ages will have a larger pool of ethnic and cultural representation to not only identify with but to also learn from in the form of entertainment education. I never found or had that Hollywood actor that I could relate to or identify with when I was a child, and as a result, it has been my dream and personal goal to continue to influence, educate, and hopefully be that “hero” to someone else someday.
- As you have personally expanded over the years, how do you feel your craft as an actor has expanded so far?
I have always disagreed with the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Instead, my personal version of this cliché is that “Perfect practice makes perfect.” That being said, I have always been extremely disciplined in my study and training of my acting craft. I have remained cognizant of this principle in order to maximize every learning opportunity, whether it be in the actors’ studio or on a live set filming a project; as a result, I feel that I continue to grow, expand, and mature as an actor. Ironically, I also believe that perfection is inevitable as an actor due to the simple fact that an actor is constantly learning and discovering more and more about his or her craft as an artist. Perfection to me is nearly a motivating notion that I continue to persevere and strive for as an artist. I am grateful for all of my life opportunities as well as adversities and hardships that I have encountered throughout my life so far as they have all contributed to my ever-expanding arch as an actor in the entertainment industry. With the conclusion of every project, I like to think that I am graduating to another platform with more expectations and newer challenges. I am humbled for all the variety of characters and genres that I have been cast for thus far in my career and am especially excited for 2020, as I will be playing a variety of characters that I have yet to portray on the big screen.
- Captain Iijima is the role you portray on the Amazon original series Man in a High Castle airing its 4th and final season now. How would you describe your emotional journey during the process of becoming your character?
I am extremely proud to have been cast and welcomed into the Emmy-award winning Amazon series, The Man in the High Castle. It was truly an honor to not only join this amazing cast and crew but to also honor my personal Japanese American heritage. Because my last name is Chinese (“Ting”), people are not aware that I am also half Japanese. I am actually a fourth-generation Japanese American; my Japanese grandparents were both born in the United States and were the quintessential Japanese Americans incarcerated in the internment camps during World War II. Even though The Man in the High Castle takes place in an alternate universe, in which Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany govern and rule the world, the series touches on the same time period in which my Japanese American grandparents were interned in the concentration camps. As a result, even though I play the character of Captain Iijima, a loyal captain for the Imperial Japanese military regime who serves to carry out the commands and desires of the head Japanese officials back in Japan, I did feel a significant emotional and deep spiritual connection to this show because of my Japanese American heritage. As a loyal fan and viewer of this series since season one, I have always found parallels and personal connections with this show as it depicts the exact time period as well as Japanese Americans (or “Resistance fighters”) that my grandparents could have been if this alternate world was, in fact, a reality.
Prepping for Captain Iijima was definitely an emotional rollercoaster for me as I wanted to honor not only my Japanese heritage but also my American heritage as well. On one side, I was proud to represent a strong, intelligent Japanese military captain but on the other side, I was also torn because I was representing an enemy of the United States as well as the reason why my Japanese family was interned in the concentration camps. The threat of my Japanese American grandparents potentially being spies for Japan and identified as the “enemy” were the reason why they were unconstitutionally imprisoned and relocated in the first place. As a result, I decided to simplify my character preparation process by disregarding all the negative stigmas and focusing on the positive aspects of celebrating my Japanese heritage and honoring my grandparents’ generation through my portrayal of Captain Iijima.
- How would you describe the dynamics of the relationship between Chief Inspector Kido and Captain Iijima?
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 the motives of Chief Inspector Kido, become questioned as the murder investigation of the assassination of Trade Minister Tagomi continues to reveal new evidence of who ordered the hit as well as the overall murder plot. Both Captain Iijima and Chief Inspector Kido become suspect of one another as their relationship becomes more of a chess match, each trying to strategize and uncover their true loyalties and ultimate intentions.
- How do you feel Captain Iijima has evolved, especially during the investigation of the conspiracy against Trade Minister Tagomi?
I believe that Captain Iijima becomes more and more vulnerable as the investigation of the conspiracy against Trade Minister Tagomi continues. As a loyal military officer, Captain Iijima has obediently carried out and fulfilled the demands of the emperor of Japan. It is only when Chief Inspector Kido lies and bluffs about finding Captain Iijima’s partial fingerprint on the clip inside the pistol (that shot and killed Trade Minister Tagomi) that Captain Iijima fears he has been caught and identified as the murderer of the trade minister. At this point in the season, there is an obvious shift in power as Captain Iijima now must adhere to the wishes and demands of Chief Inspector Kido due to the mere potential that he will expose Captain Iijima as the true killer of Trade Minister Tagomi.
- In what way do you think The Man in the High Castle tells a story relevant to the world of today?
Sadly, I believe that there are numerous parallels and similar political, governmental, and social relevance between the alternate universe of The Man in the High Castle and the current world in which we live in today. From world leaders to corrupt dictators to those people resisting change, the cliché that “history repeats itself” holds very true when comparing this 4-season Amazon series to our present day. The struggle of power, influence, wealth, and overall cultural domination continue to affect us in 2019/20 similar to the way in which Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and the Resistance all fought to exist in the alternate world of The Man in the High Castle.
- Are there any other projects you are excited about at this moment?
In 2020, I will be playing the character of Li Chang on the first season of CBS’s new show called Tommy, starring Oscar and Emmy award-winning actress, Edie Falco.
I was cast as the lead of a drama/sci-fi feature film, Roma 96, which will be releasing early next year.
I will be seen in the FX’s new series, The Old Man, playing opposite of Academy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, Jeff Bridges.
I was also cast as the lead in a Western cowboy feature film, No Name & Dynamite Davenport, where I will be playing the character of Dynamite Davenport.
- As we accomplish more, we also reach for more. How do you embrace your innate journey of expansion to continually fulfill that which you desire?
Throughout my early life, I was always searching for something that would “wake me up in the morning and get me out of bed.” In college, I heard all of my classmates discuss their future plans and career goals but I still had not pinpointed exactly what I wanted to do. I always knew regardless of what I chose as a future career that I would need to absolutely love it, be it, and live it every day of my life. From being a history major at Yale while completing all of my pre-med requirements to earning a joint J.D./M.B.A. dual degree in graduate school, I still did not know what I wanted to do with my life. My parents taught me to always keep working at something and never stop. If I didn’t know what to do, then I should just keep doing what I was currently working on. And that’s exactly what happened. An offer at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles brought me back to L.A. where I coincidentally received my first job offer to work on a Warner Brothers’ feature in the summer of 2007. My dream of being an actor in Hollywood had begun and since, I continue to be motivated by the unknown factor of what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. When I was 4-years old, I began to study martial arts because of my motivation and inspiration from Bruce Lee. So many decades later, I am now continuing my childhood idol’s idea, dream, and vision he created prior to his unfortunate death. Never would I have thought that I would be starring in a project (“Warrior”) created by the greatest martial arts legend of all time while continuing the pursuit of my dream of being a Hollywood actor. Bruce Lee was quoted saying, “Running water never grows stale, so you got to just keep on flowing.” Similar to what my parents preached and taught me when I was a child, I continue to stay motivated, committed to my craft, and “flowing.”
- 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 working hard and being a “good” person would ultimately lead me to success and living a positive joyful life. This upbringing and overall mentality have definitely affected my creative process throughout my acting career. In the entertainment industry, in my opinion, 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. Joyful living can also come from focusing on the positives and having a humble attitude that 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.