Michael Tow is talking to HOLR about his acting career, some of his top projects, and how he continues to advocate for Asian-American rights and causes.

Michael Tow is sitting down to chat with HOLR about his career to date. From new projects- such as “City on Fire”- to using his platform to advocate for Asian-American rights and causes, Michael is opening up about life as an actor in the entertainment industry and how his personal experiences have shaped the roles he has taken on.
Keep reading to learn all about the established actor and his latest projects by checking out our full conversation, below.

Talk to us about your inspiring career. How you got your start as an actor and what are some of the projects you’ve starred in, to date?

I acted a lot in elementary school but started acting professionally 15+ years ago in my 30s. It was never a thought to get back into it, but my brother Darren who was dabbling in acting at that time told me I should join him for an audition for Showtime’s Brotherhood. They needed two Asian men for a scene and couldn’t find the right actors for it. I thought it seemed like fun to give it a try so my brother asked the casting director if I could come along to the audition. It was a scene opposite Jason Isaacs who many know as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter. Sure enough, we both booked it together! Since then it’s been a long journey with a lot of perseverance, training, and hard work. I have been fortunate to be in some great projects like the Oscar-winning film The Sound of MetalHocus Pocus 2, and TV shows like Law & Order Organized Crime and the upcoming Taylor Sheridan series Lioness and Season 3 of Starz’s Raising Kanan.

Tell us more about “City on Fire,” Apple TV’s highly anticipated mystery/thriller series that dropped its first 3 episodes on May 12.

City on Fire takes place in Ny in 2003, a city still healing in the wake of 9/11. A 19-year-old woman Sam Yeung (played by the wonderful actress Chase Sui Wonders) gets shot in Central Park and the show takes us to the underground music scene of the Upper East Side and the wealthy elite and the mystery that unfolds. I play Joe Yeung, Sam’s single father who is struggling to come to grips that his daughter who is now in a coma may not survive, and his whole world as he knows it may be forever changed.

How did the loss of your daughter shape your acting in terms of the projects and roles you’ve recently taken on? 

My oldest daughter Alana passed away suddenly about a month after the filming of City on Fire. She was 19, the same age as the age my TV daughter Sam Yeung was supposed to be in City on Fire. Almost all the scenes I played in City on Fire foreshadowed the tragedy I would experience in real life one month later. I believe my role as Joe Yeung was a gift from my daughter Alana to try to help prepare me for the mental and emotional grief of her death. Since then I have been cast in some of the biggest roles of my career and all of these roles have uncannily been directly connected to her in some way.
michael tow

Image Credit: Peter Mellekas

You’ve also starred alongside Keira Knightley in the historical crime drama, “Boston Strangler.” Can you talk to us about this experience and what the audience can expect when watching? 

Boston Strangler took place in Boston in the 1960s. I play real-life reporter J.C. Kim. It was my first-period piece and the first time I played a character from Boston, which is where I was born and grew up. Most Boston-themed movies or television shows never show Asian Americans even though we’ve been a strong presence in Boston for over 100 years. I thank Boston Strangler’s writer and director Matt Ruskin for giving me the opportunity to change that.

As a Chinese-American and Boston native, how do you continue to advocate for Asian-American rights and causes?

I have a production company, Tow Arboleda Films with my producing partner Teja Arboleda where we’ve made short films and parodies to address Asian American social justice issues that have been seen by millions of people. We usually do it through a humorous lens but with a serious message. In a time where many injustices are caught on camera, we feel responses through videos are the most effective. Currently, we are working on a feature Documentary about pioneer Comedian Joe Wong who has survived time and time again against seemingly insurmountable odds throughout his long career.
Published by HOLR Magazine.