Danni Huang Lang is an actress who was featured in the films Safe and Saving Face; here is a link to her website:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: Unlike many actresses, I didn’t start acting as a child, however I did land some print modeling work in advertisements after being scouted at the mall and that gave me my first experience in front of the camera. It wasn’t until my last year in college, when I was about to graduate with a biology degree from SUNY Buffalo State, that my friend urged me to audition for the musical ‘Hair’, the college production that semester. I ended up landing a role and that was my first taste of acting and what it meant to be a unique piece to a production. I loved it so much that I took a gutsy leap after that and moved to NYC. I’m always extremely grateful when I book a job, because I never really expected to be here, but here I am! Leap and the net will appear.
Q: What is your role in Safe?
A: My role was Ling, the girlfriend of Russian mob boss, Emile Dochevski. Ling has a good heart and genuinely cares about Mei so she wants to help Mei by exposing the truth, despite the consequences.
Q: How did you get the role?
A: Like I said, after graduating from college I moved to NYC. I got an agent and was auditioning regularly and received a request for an audition for the film. When I was preparing for the role, I asked my mom for some help with an authentic Mandarin dialect and she worked with me by going over lines and fine-tuning my Mandarin. It definitely worked because I ended up booking the role and there was lots of uncontrollable tears, screaming and laughing from the both of us when I broke the news. On top of that, Director Boaz Yakin personally told me that he was very pleased with how Ling’s scenes came out and that my Chinese was one of the best in the cast. (Thanks mom!)
Q: You were on One Life to Live, what is the most challenging thing about being on a soap?
A: Soaps can be challenging because of their fast pace. They are like highways, very speedy and efficient because they have to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time so you have to be ready for anything.
Q: What is your most embarrassing celebrity encounter story?
A: My most embarrassing celebrity encounter story is too embarrassing to share in public, so I’ll just share one of my favorite celebrity stories! In the film Fair Game, I had a scene opposite Sean Penn, who plays the real life diplomat Joseph C. Wilson. The scene starts with Joseph Wilson at a bustling political rally, where I run up to him to share with him that my sister and I came all the way from Portland to support him and then asked for his autograph on a page on a yellow lined spiral journal prop. It was an easy character for me to play since I’m a fan of Sean Penn’s so I just used the situation to get into the scene. Well, at the end of the shoot, I returned the journal minus the page that Sean Penn autographed (Joseph Wilson’s signature since he was in character) and sold it on eBay. (I’m just kidding) I lovingly folded and tucked that piece of paper away in my bible as a reminder that anything is possible.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring actors for getting their first guest starring role?
A: Learn to love the auditioning process and the business side of the film industry as much as acting itself. Everything from sending out creative marketing materials, the excitement of getting and going to auditions, knowing your type and understanding your strengths to the bittersweet wins and losses in between. Also, prepare scenes in your own way, but be flexible and take direction at the audition. Casting directors are truly incredible at what they do, they understand the director and producers vision and play a big part in shaping the project. If they give you direction in the room, it’s a gift to help you, take it without second guessing them because they really know their stuff. In fact the most helpful resources for actors that I’ve found are casting director related. The Actors Link connects you to top casting directors and Sam Christensen Studios is a great resource because it helps you create a solid brand as an actor.
Q: What is Saving Face about?
A: Saving Face is essentially about the grey area of being Asian American. Saving face is a series that has a Modern Family feel and gives us an inside view of the day-to-day struggles of four Asian-American-ish characters: Lanying ‘Laney’ Fu, a Chinese-born oncologist, who still lives with her parents, her best friend Soo Jin Pak, a spunky Chinese-American web designer raised by a same-sex white couple, Roger Colfax, a Mandarin-speaking teacher who was formerly a Chinese television superstar, and Trent Lavender, a quirky Hawaiian drifter. ‘Saving Face’, follows these for characters as they deal with various generational gaps and American stereotypes that Asian-Americans deal with. Each of the characters has a very unique point of view when dealing with the same issues.
Q: What role do you play and how did you prepare for it?
A: I play Laney Fu, an oncologist that is torn between the obligations of her traditional Chinese upbringing and her life as an independent American female. To prepare for it, I did a lot of reflection on my own experiences as an Asian American female trying to find my way. There’s a huge pool of nuances, paradoxes, comedy, confusion, and even comfort that comes with the territory of being an Asian American in the 21st century. I reviewed some of the most poignant moments in my own upbringing and it really helped me get into Laney’s character. I even surprised the cast and crew (including myself) because I got pretty emotional in unexpected places.
Q: If you could change anything about the film industry what would it be?
A: My heart always skips a beat when I see an Asian American on TV, in a film, in a commercial, or in an interview. I can’t really explain it; it’s just an automatic connection… I think because of the unique mix of East and West, all Asian Americans have beautiful stories to tell and I hope that there will be an exponential increase of opportunities for Asian Americans to voice their experiences. Every time an Asian American wins a role on screen, it’s huge because it increases visibility. I’m also a proud member of CAPE and it’s an amazing resource out there that brings Asian American film makers together to create new opportunities
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)