Tag Archive | "Kublai Khan"

So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

All good things must come to an end. As cliché as that may sound, truer words have never been spoken. Often time long running events overstay their welcome and eventually become a shadow of their former self. Now, although many old school Warped Tour fans would like to say the tour was well past its prime, I would say that the tour was continuing to meet its purpose.

The Warped Tour was originally brought to fruition by Kevin Lyman in 1995, and received the official Vans sponsorship in 96. While folks will forever protest that the Vans Warped Tour has always been a “punk festival”, I’ve always viewed it as a celebration of alternative genres and a way for newer acts to reach an audience. While those early years focused on the punk genre there were also many notable acts from across the musical solar system. The “punk-rock summer camp” was more of a tag line than a focus on a singular form of music. Now, a history lesson on the Vans Warped Tour is a story for another day. All you need to know is that the Vans Warped Tour has been the launching pad for hundreds of bands and is a staple for music fans across the country.

My experience with the Vans Warped Tour actually happened a little later in life, my first show being the 2010 edition. The eclectic mix of punk and metal was, pun intended, music to my 18 year old ears. Why had it taken me this long to reach the “promise land”? Since that fateful day at Merriweather Post-Pavilion I’ve attended 6 out of the 8 tours that followed, alternating between the Columbia, Maryland and Camden, New Jersey shows. I’ve discovered countless bands throughout my years attending the tour, many of which have become favorites of mine. Bands/artists like Every Time I Die, Ballyhoo, Yelawolf, MC Lars, Vanna (RIP) and many others are bands I discovered on Warped Tour and bands that remain in constant rotation today. No matter the lineup, it was always important to make it out to the show as you never knew what you might discover. It was something to look forward to every summer.

On November 15th, 2017 Kevin Lyman announced that the 2018 Vans Warped Tour would be the final cross country tour of the brand’s lifetime. The reasoning behind this decision saw Lyman discussing falling ticket sales amongst the tours prime demographic (teenagers) and the fact that he’s just tired. This is completely understandable as the man has technically been doing cross-country tours for 26 years. The news was devastating. This incredible thing that I had discovered less than ten years prior, and others have been attending for over twenty years, was going away. It is truly the end of an era.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. The bands, an eclectic mix of first timers and veterens, have all been announced. There was no way any sane person could miss this event. Even if you weren’t a fan of the lineup, the Vans Warped Tour had been a staple for all fans of alternative genres, how could you miss the LAST one. So, it was decided, I was adventuring out to where it all started for me. On July 29th, 2018 I attended the Final Vans Warped Tour at the Merriweather Post-Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

As stated earlier, I spent a few Warped years attending the Camden, NJ show as I found parking to be much easier and the overall aesthetic to be much more pleasing. However, with it being the last hooray I knew where I needed to go. As I pulled into the parking garage it was easy to see that today was going to be special. Thousands of “kids” were lined up to get into the venue, a number that honestly dwarfed the amount of patrons lined up in years prior. Sure, in years past the venue eventually filled out, but you could tell that this year no one wanted to miss a second. I quickly checked in, grabbed my photo pass/ticket, and retrieved a spot in line. For the first time that I can remember, the doors opened 30 minutes early. Now, at Warped Tour the doors are usually scheduled to open at 11:00. From my experience, this has always been true, not a minute before or minute after. I welcomed the 10:30 surprise and made my way into the venue.

I quickly realized just how different this show was going to be compared to last. According to multiple merch workers, the venue decided that it didn’t want anyone to use the “woods” area of Merriweather Post-Pavilion. This was mind blowing; they had always used the woods area and the field on the other side. This allowed for easy movement and 0 congestion amongst many of the stages. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, by removing this portion of the venue they’ve essentially halved the available space. It was noticeable. Overall many of the stages were cramped with the Monster Energy/Mutant Stages being placed on the parking lot, practically turning attendees into fried eggs. Listen, I understand these are small complaints, but I just can’t wrap my brain around why things worked a certain way every other year and were different this year. One attendee mentioned that it may have been a reaction based upon the pavilion collapse at the beginning of the year, however, the adjustments that were made were nowhere near where the accident had taken place. Nonetheless, these are all complaints about the venue itself and their handling of the event, not Warped Tour as a whole. So let’s move on.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the Vans Warped Tour works, let me explain. No one is aware of the set times until you arrive at the show. Once you enter the gates there is a big inflatable schedule in the center that displays the times. There are also multiple vendors selling schedules for about $2 each. It’s definitely a stressful method that always keeps me up the night prior. I always end up wide awake the night before, stressed I’m going to sleep through my alarm and miss that “one special band”. This has never happened, but I stressed out about it yearly.

Once I received my schedule my first destination was decided. I made my way over to the Mutant Red Dawn stage to catch Australian metalcore band, The Amity Affliction. The band got their start in 2003 and first popped on my radar in 2012 with the release of “Chasing Ghosts”. I admit my knowledge of the Aussie trio is very limited. I came across the boys around the time I was stepping away from the metalcore genre as a whole. I felt it had become a bit oversaturated with countless bands sounding too similar to one another. Unfortunately I didn’t give The Amity Affliction a fair shot at the time, but I am thankful to say that that has changed in recent years. Being the first band of the day you’d think it would take Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch a minute to warm up, but to hell with that. As soon as they took the stage they busted out into a blistering rendition of the title track off their fifth album, “This Could Be Heartbreak”. The rest of the set contained tracks throughout the band’s career, closing with one of their larger songs, “Pittsburgh”. The Amity Affliction have a new album, Misery, dropping on the 24thof August and you won’t regret picking it up!

At this point I took off towards one of the main stages, the Journey Right Foot stage in order to catch The Maine. Having played the festival 6 times, the Arizona band is always one I try my best to catch. Their infectious pop rock grooves are catchy enough to get even the hardest of metal heads dancing. Honestly, it is crazy how these guys having completely blown up. They’ve got the skills to write pop hits for days and damn do they know how to put on a show. Lead singer, John O’Callaghan always has the audience in the palm of his hands. He says jump, the crowd screams, “how high?!”. The band called The Maine played songs across their decade long career. The highlight definitely being when O’Callaghan pulled an audience member on stage to join him in singing “Girls Do What They Want”. Unfortunately I’ve never seen The Maine outside of Warped Tour, and that definitely needs to change soon.

During the show there was another festival happening in Philadelphia known as “This is Hardcore”. Obviously I wasn’t able to be there so I had to figure out another way to get my hardcore fix. Enter, Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan is a band I hadn’t heard much of in the past, but I knew I wanted to check out. Their downtuned guitars and slow, but heavy grooves had me two-stepping all over the photo pit. If there is anything that annoys me about being in the photo pit, it’s that everyone in there just looks pissed off to be there. What’s there to be mad about? You’ve got a front row spot, you more than likely were able to get in for free, and your work is going to get posted and recognized by other music fans across the globe. Hey, why not have some fun while you’re doing it!? That’s what I did. Kublai Khan put out their latest record, “Nomad” last September. Check it out!

Next up was hands down the wild card of the festival. The night prior I had been researching a few artists on the lineup I had never heard before. I came across the artist known as Yungblud. I was completely enthralled within seconds. Between the visuals, the lyrics, and the varying genres that weave in and out of one another, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. I can happily say that this was increased tenfold when I witnessed it live. I would describe Yungblud, real name Dominic Harrison, as Twenty One Pilots meets MIA with a big glass of IDGAF attitude. While Dom played one of the smaller stages of the day, you’d never realize it. The crowd was packed into this stage like sardines. The place went wild as the 19 year old hit the stage and there wasn’t a body standing still in sight. Yungblud just released his debut album, “21stCentury Liability” on July 6th. If you take away anything from this write up it should be to go pick up that album!

We’re a few hours into the day, but there is no time to rest. Next up we have Warped Tour legends, and one of my favorite bands of all time: Less Than Jake! Honestly, what can I say about Less Than Jake that I haven’t said before? They’ve been going strong for 25+ years and show no signs of stopping. They opened the show with “All my Best Friends are Metal Heads” and that was all she wrote. What followed was 30 minutes of ska punk greatness that only Less Than Jake can provide.

At this point I headed over to the second main stage, the Journey’s Left Foot stage which was for some reason not next to the Right Foot stage like it had been in years past. When I arrived at the Left Foot stage a wave of fear crashed over me. This was not enough room for the amount of people who would be filling this space later (which we’ll get to). Regardless, the next band to take the stage were some high school favorites of mine, 3OH!3. 3OH!3 is an electropop duo that got their start in 2004. They hit it big with 2008’s “Want”, releasing hits Don’t Trust Me and Starstrukk (both tracks having remixes that feature Kid Cudi and Katy Perry respectively). When I felt that some of their later albums started having a jokey vibe in the vein of The Lonely Island I stopped listening. That being said, Sean and Nat absolutely killed it. Much of the setlist focused on the band’s early work which was right up my alley. 3OH!3’s latest release, “Night Sports” is available now from Fueled By Ramen.

Now it’s time for a band I never thought I’d see on Warped Tour. I’ve covered them multiple times before, and it’s always a pleasure. I’m talking about, of course, the demented duo TWIZTID. If you’re a usual visitor here at Icon Vs Icon then you know my history with this band. I went into a long tangent of my experience in the Juggalo world back when I covered Twiztid’s Psychomania tour, check it out because it’s a great read! A quick refresher: since leaving Psychopathic records Twiztid has been doing huge things! They’ve received opportunities they could only dream of in years prior. Not to mention they’ve started their own label with some of the best names in underground hip hop. Twiztid is going strong, and they’re definitely not stopping. Also, no surprise here, they absolutely killed it! I was truly curious as to what tracks they would choose for the setlist. While the crowd was filled with juggalos it was also filled with people whose curiosity led them to the Mutant Red Dawn stage this afternoon. I was happy to see that they played tracks that spanned their entire career. Anyone that thinks the demented duo is hurting in recent years either isn’t paying attention or is in serious denial. The crowd was packed and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

A change of pace was needed so I made my way back to the main stage for some ska goodness. The next band to grace my ears was The Interrupters. I’ve had the pleasure of catching this group of fine folks three times, the last being in Ohio at “Punk In Drublic”. While the crowd was a bit lighter, it definitely filled in as the band took the stage. Aimee Interrupter has such an infectious smile that it is impossible to be upset when they’re playing. Leave your cares at the door and get ready to skank because by the end of their set we were all one big family! The Interrupters just released their newest album “Fight the Good Fight” on June 29thfrom Hellcat Records.

What happened next is what I was worried about in this small space. The night before Warped Tour, founder Kevin Lyman had tweeted about Maryland having a very special guest. Well this was it. Maryland was greeted by hometown heroes, Good Charlotte. GC is no stranger when it comes to Warped Tour having played the festival 3 times prior. No surprise, they came out and the crowd went absolutely nuts. We were definitely at capacity when it came to this area of the festival, and it was definitely poor planning on the venue’s part. Nevertheless, Good Charlotte ran through every hit they could in their short time set. Joel mentioned after playing the opener, “The Anthem”, that they wouldn’t be talking much as they wanted to get through as many tracks as possible. They achieved just that. These guys haven’t lost a step. Good Charlotte has a new album out on September 18th.

During the Good Charlotte set, my younger sister had gotten hurt in the crowd. We went and sat down a little bit, tired and hungry. Unfortunately the next band that played would be the last I would see on the Vans Warped Tour, but how appropriate that that band would be Reel Big Fish. Reel Big Fish is a band I’ve seen over 15 times. I grew up listening to them and I’ve been attending their shows ever since I was old enough to go. There is nothing in this world like a Reel Big Fish show. While Aaron Barrett may be the only original member left in the band his eye/ear for talent has kept the band going for 27 years. They tour nonstop but play every show like it’s going to be their last. Here’s the thing with an RBF show, you know what you’re going to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Reel Big Fish played all of their well-known tracks, well…well known to their fans. I cannot recommend checking out Reel Big Fish anymore than I already have in the past. If you want an incredible time, go see Reel Big Fish!

So that was the end of it. No one in my party felt well after spending all day in the heat so we decided to cut our day short. The only band I am really disappointed I missed was Every Time I Die. So here’s a hypothetical review of that show: it was great, they’re always great, go and see them.

Well there it is! That was the Final Vans Warped Tour. Life will never be the same without this cross-country tour being in my life every summer. Kevin Lyman announced that something will be done next year, for the tour’s 25thanniversary, but this is the FINAL cross-country tour. It’s bitter sweet really. It’s sad that it’s over, but it feels great to reminisce about all the incredible memories. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. He worships at the alter of the the alter of Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the various pop culture conventions on the east coast. Most importantly,vyou love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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IN BLOOM: Olivia Cheng Talks Career, Breakout Role On ‘Marco Polo’ and More!

IN BLOOM: Olivia Cheng Talks Career, Breakout Role On ‘Marco Polo’ and More!

Olivia Cheng - Photo by Liz Rosa

Olivia Cheng – Photo by Liz Rosa

It takes more than talent to make it in the entertainment industry. The recipe for success calls for hard work, determination, unrelenting drive and a sprinkle of luck. Most of all, it takes a passion to create. Olivia Cheng caught the creative bug early in life. She took her first acting class at age 6 and booked her first local commercial at 19. After high school, Olivia attended the University of Alberta where she earned a scholarship and early admittance to its commerce program. Unhappy in university, she enrolled at NAIT’s Radio and Television Arts program the following year, which led to a successful media career. After finishing school, her journey led her to a job as a videographer for Global TV Lethbridge, before moving back to Edmonton to work as a broadcast and print journalist.

At the height of her journalism career, AMC was launching its original content division and came to Alberta with a Walter Hill-helmed mini-series, executive produced by Robert Duvall. They were looking for five Chinese actresses, but were willing to look at non-professionals as well. Duvall saw Olivia’s audition and asked to bring her back. She was then cast in “Broken Trail,” which was nominated for 16 Primetime Emmy Awards and went on to win four, including the Emmy for Outstanding Mini-Series. “Broken Trail” gave Olivia the push she needed. She moved to Vancouver and worked as a stringer correspondent for ET Canada, while she pursued an acting career full time. Since then, Olivia has appeared on USA’s “Psych,” Fox’s “Fringe,” CTV’s “Flashpoint,” The CW’s “Arrow” and “Supernatural,” and CBC’s “Arctic Air.”

Her latest project, Netflix’s larger-than-life series “Marco Polo,” showcases her most ambitious work to date. Produced by The Weinstein Company, the series is based on the famed explorer’s adventures in Kublai Khan’s court. In this breathtaking and powerful series, Olivia Cheng plays Mei Lin, the sister of Jia Sidao and favorite mistress of the Emperor of the Song Dynasty. Mei Lin is a beautiful and alluring woman, but also a dangerous warrior who possesses a proud and intelligent mind. “Marco Polo” has set a precedent for production, being one of the most expensive television series ever produced. Netflix will launch all 10 episodes of the second season on July 1st. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Olivia Cheng to discuss her role on the critically acclaimed series, her evolution as an actor and what the future may hold for this star on the rise!

What attracted you to the arts early on?

My earliest memories come from the way I used to play as a kid. I would make theater performances and cast my friends in plays at recess. I was a really good student, so I would often ask for special permission to turn an essay assignment into a live performance piece or a movie! I was a very artsy kid and I don’t even think I realized it until I looked back years later.

When did the craft of acting come into your life?

I started looking into it when I was 15 years old. I probably invested thousands of dollars that I will never see back on what I think were shams, now that I know how the business actually works! [laughs] The promises these people made far exceeded what they could actually do. When you have a dream as a kid, you will put together the money and pay whoever to help you make it happen. So, I was already looking into it but after losing a lot of money to these enterprises that weren’t really legit, I kind of decided this wasn’t something I had access to. I did continue to sign up to be an extra whenever I heard something was in town looking for extras. It was through that process that I eventually heard about “Broken Trail,” went out to those auditions and was cast. The project ended up being nominated for 16 Emmys and I think it won the Emmy for Best Mini-Series that year and put AMC on the map. That was a project that made me say, “I can’t deny that this is something I really want to do.”

Was there anyone behind the scenes who gave you a push when you needed it?

I would give that credit to a former managing editor of mine. When he heard that I had heard I had been offered a part in “Broken Trail” with Walter Hill and Robert Duvall, he knew I was very torn about leaving my stable, full-time career in media. He pulled me aside and said, “I’m talking to you as more of a parent than a boss but you’ve got to do this! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we will be here if you want to come back. I don’t think you will come back because I don’t think your heart is here.” He was right! I never went back!

Years later, you find yourself in yet another larger than life series with Netflix’s “Marco Polo.” How did you get involved and what intrigued you about this project?

"Marco Polo" Season 2 Premieres July 1st.

“Marco Polo” Season 2 Premieres July 1st.

It was such a hail mary, as my agent calls it! [laughs] I am a working joe actor in Canada. In Vancouver, we are largely a service industry for American projects that come to town. It is a fantastic platform for so many Canadian actors to cut their teeth, gain experience and work in a relatively small pool of talent compared to the United States market. I have been in that market for seven years. You hear a lot of actors talk about this, because it does happen to a lot of us, where you are at a point where you love what you do but you don’t know how to make rent again! [laughs] I was at that point! I was doing really well and getting really great feedback. I knew I just had to hang in there! My agent called me and said, “This breakdown just came out. It’s a project co-produced by Netflix and the Weinstein Company.” That immediately perked up my ears because the Weinstein Company has been nominated for close to 400 Oscars now and has one over 100. In this business, everyone knows the caliber of project that company puts out. She said to me, “Ya know, you really have to make this take pop.” She referenced a local actor, Michael Eklund, who created a miniature short film for his audience for his audition with the Halle Berry movie, “The Call.” He won out the role from going the extra mile. Basically, I put down a tape and put more effort into it than usual. I borrowed a friend’s really good camera, I got lights together and a proper mic. I didn’t just shoot it against a blue screen with a chair, as so many auditions are. I knew they were searching the United States, Australia, the UK and China. I don’t believe Canada was officially on the search list. Often, we just see what is going on in The States and we submit. I knew this tape really had to stand out visually because it was going to be seen among hundreds or possibly thousands of others. I actually filmed my audition nude! You don’t see anything but I, as much as possible, tried to create the set and space of what was happening in the scene. My agent told me later that she had never fought so hard for a tape to be seen. I never really had gotten material like that for her to see what I could do with it. In Vancouver, we get a lot of movie of the weeks. The kind of material “Marco Polo” put down in front of me was really, really rare, challenging, dark and complex material. My agent eventually just bullied her way into the U.S. Office and said, “You’ve got to watch this!” I have been very lucky to have a lot of great people pushing for me behind the scenes.

Olivia Cheng as Mei Lin in "Marco Polo"

Olivia Cheng as Mei Lin in “Marco Polo”

For those just discovering the series, what can you tell us about it and the character you play?

The show follows a young Marco Polo, who was a famed Italian explorer. In real life, I believe, he spent 17 years in the court of Kublai Khan at a time when Kublai Khan was the most prolific conqueror and ruler in the entire world. No one has ever matched his family’s legacy of how much of the world they conquered and populated. We take a fictionalized look at history and Marco Polo as he lands in the court of this 13th century Mongolian Empire, as it is warring with China’s Song Dynasty. My character is from the Song Dynasty side. Mei Lin is based on a real historical figure, who is a footnote in Chinese history, so this is a real imagining of how this woman might have been. She is an imperial consort to the emperor of the Song Dynasty. She is also the sister to Chancellor Jia Sidao who went down in history as the corrupt chancellor who brought down the Song Dynasty. In our story, she is blackmailed by her own brother. He takes her daughter hostage and she is forced to enter the Mongolian Empire as a double agent. Eventually, she becomes a prisoner of war to the Khan. In Season 2, Mei Lin maneuvers through the court in a very precarious position. She is basically a living weapon for the Khan but she continues her role as a double agent because she is still trying to keep the daughter alive and still wants to take the Khan down.

It goes without saying this series has great writing involved but what did you bring to this character that might not have been on the written page?

That is a really great question. I watched a lot of documentaries about prostitution, human trafficking, sex slavery and read a lot of social science articles. There was one amazing article I read about South African women who sell themselves in mining towns. I read stories from all over the world in this day and age, who work in our oldest profession. I think what struck me the most across the board was that whether these women were from Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa or North America, was how they told their stories with their chins held high. They were from such a marginalized section of society but when they told their stories they had such dignity and poise. It was really moving for me to notice that common emotional thread amongst them. It helped me imagine how hard their lives must be and how they learned to hold their heads up high. That really inspired me to bring that quality to Mei Lin and not portray her as a victim of her circumstance but as someone just as human, intelligent and full as you or I would be in life.

Olivia Cheng - Photo by Liz Rosa

Olivia Cheng – Photo by Liz Rosa

What was the biggest challenge you faced on this project?

I think the greatest challenge has been building a character from scratch. There are so many things you can’t prepare for through acting class to when you become a lead on a series. There are so many pressures on you when you are helping to carry a show. I think this is the first role I can truly say took a lot out of me emotionally, mentally and physically. I had to go through training to learn martial arts and get the ex-gymnast muscles firing again to flip around and hit the back handsprings on set. I think the greatest challenge was what it took to make a character like Mei Lin feel organic to the audience.

I am sure you learn something new with every project. What is the biggest lesson you took away from your time on this project?

I think the biggest lesson I learned was more on the pragmatic side of how to keep going in the marathon of shooting a show. We had two full camera units going six days a week to hustle through shooting 10 episodes that have such high quality feature film production values and get it in on time. The scheduling was really rigorous! I have been a high achiever for a lot of my life, so it is a very natural and familiar space for me to burn the candle at both ends. I think something this epic and of this magnitude really showed me how important it is to rest, take care of myself and have a good team of people around me. I really learned how important rest is! Maybe that is a boring answer but it is something that has been really hard for me for a lot of my life!

You have come a long way since your first role as an actor. Looking back, how have you most evolved as an actor?

I think I understand the craft so much more. When I think about my first big experience on “Broken Trail,” I was so green! I ran around that set like a puppy off-leash! [laughs] I was so excited to be there but I had no understanding of the craft or how to serve the story. I remember at one point, there was this scene, where Robert Duvall is teaching one of the Chinese girls whose feet have been broken in traditional footing binding. He puts her on a horse to give her a sense of freedom and movement that, for obvious reasons, she can’t experience on her own. We were shooting this scene and we were sitting in a wagon. I was so excited to be on set that day that I remember I was cheering in the take! I was like, “Yeah! Go, go, go!” I was super excited! Walter Hill called cut and walked over to me. He is a very stoic, thoughtful guy and doesn’t waste a lot of words. [laughs] He came over to me and said, “More Yi Fung. Remember, you are in the 18th century and you have been very, very traumatized and no Olivia.” [laughs] I was like, “Oh, OK.” [laughs] The energy I was bringing was not the correct energy for the character or the scene. To me, that illustrates that at that point, I didn’t understand to serve the character or the story. Shortly after that, I went through a year that I call a year of bad acting, where I over-acted on camera on everything I was cast in. I didn’t understand that you just have to think something and the camera will pick it up. Now, for Mei Lin, when I hear people who know me and know what my energy is in life tell me they’ve forgot they are watching me or saw me disappear into a character, it really means something to me. Like I said, I remember how I started as an actor and how unrefined I was during my first few years! [laughs]

Olivia Cheng - Photo by Liz Rosa

Olivia Cheng – Photo by Liz Rosa

Where are you headed in the future. Obviously, you will take on more projects as an actor but do you see yourself exploring the world behind the camera?

I would love that! On the writing end, I have actually been developing projects since the beginning of my career. I’ve had a couple of projects optioned that never went to production but they gave me a taste of what it takes on the development end and I continue to push on that side. It is interesting to watch, as a Canadian Asian, watch my American counterparts up here really push on the diversity issue. For example, Margaret Cho starting the whole #whitewashout movement on Twitter, really fortified to me how important it is that voices within my own ethnic community and culture create the content that resonates for us and hopefully finds that universal home base. We actually have momentum and the dialog and conversation that is happening in Hollywood right now, maybe it is unbalanced or not enough, but it is happening. I think it is up to people like myself to continue pushing where I can. I absolutely hope my writing projects find a home and I would love to go from directing my professional acting friends in skits to maybe one day directing them for real!

A lot of people can look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?

Anyone who is trying to do something that is outside of the box, something no one in their family has done or any type of entrepreneur in that sense, knows it’s so scary to bring your visions to life. The thing I would want to convey from my own experience is failure is the F word that nobody likes to talk about but I think it is important to let people know that I have failed. I have failed so much to get here! I have been the actor who has failed so big! I have walked out of audition rooms just wrecked for days after auditions where I flubbed lines. I have felt like I have really blown shots by putting ideas out there. There is so much rejection and so many things that feel like they go so wrong but I think it is really important we go through those processes because those failures are such amazing bits of wisdom. They do hone you and sharpen you while giving you a sense of what is needed in what you do to fix that hole, so to speak. I want people to know, if they fail, that is how they know they are doing it right!

Being part of a successful project like this puts you in a very unique position when it comes to shining a light on world issues and worthy causes.

Absolutely. I got into media at a very young age, I was working behind the scenes from the time I was 19, and it was impressed upon me very early about having a voice in mainstream media. I guess I am now in the position of figuring out how I can best use that voice in whatever public platform I have and shine a light where it is needed. There are so many great causes and initiatives that I would love to help out in but I think what I would most like to focus on is human trafficking. I am definitely a feminist and very aware of what is going on with women and children in other parts of the world that are far less developed than what we have here in North America. I was interested in all of that stuff even before playing a character like Mei Lin on “Marco Polo.” I think something in that arena is something I would like to help out with.

Thank you so much for your time today, Olivia! I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you next and I wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! That is so sweet. I really appreciate it! Take care!

Season 2 of Netflix’s “Marco Polo” premieres on July 1st, 2016. Follow the continuing adventures of Olivia Cheng on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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