Filipino American actor Kian Talan Chats with HOLR about their new CBS series NCIS: Hawaiʻi, launching September 20th. Talan takes on the role of Alex, a moody and exasperating teen who is struggling to cope with his parents’ split and his father’s new family, while simultaneously having the responsibility of raising his younger sister. Talan originally shy’d away from acting due to a lack of inclusion and massive misrepresentation in the industry. Despite stacked odds, Talan followed his passion into being part of the change he wanted to see. Talan takes action off screen too, taking part in SIPA’s (Search to Involve Filipino Americans) LA Chapter and FACT (Filipino American Charity Trust). 


What are you currently working on?

I’m currently in Hawai’i shooting the new NCIS spin-off show that will air this fall. I’m playing Alex Tennant, an angsty teen that’s trying to deal with having a mother who’s a Special Agent in charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor. He is also adjusting to his parent’s recent divorce. In the first season, Alex will experience a lot of change, responsibility, and pressure, which causes him to not make the best decisions. I’m really excited for everyone to meet Alex. I think he will bring a fresh contrasting vibe to the show that is not normally seen in other NCIS franchises.


What was it like breaking into the acting industry for you?

Breaking into the industry is scary because there is no clear path to success. My journey has definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions. There were many times where I felt insecure, rejected, unmotivated, and wanted to quit. What helped me stick it out was focusing on the craft because that is what I love to do. When I started putting the work first and stopped worrying about booking jobs and getting validation, I started to see my career moving in the right direction.

Talan for CBS show NCIS Photography by L Morgan Lee

Photography by L Morgan Lee


In what ways are you seeing positive representation and inclusion of Asian Americans/ inclusivity as a whole in the acting and entertainment industry? What is your goal, as someone in the industry, to advocate and create that change?

It’s great seeing how Asian actors are now given the opportunity to portray three-dimensional characters and tell truthful stories. Strides have been made, but I don’t think real change will occur until we get more Asian’s in the writer’s room and behind the camera, creating strong Asian leads. Growing up, I never saw someone like me in Film/TV, so my goal has always been to be that person for someone else and play characters that people can relate to and look up to. Even though acting is my main priority right now, I do see myself, in the future, producing and helping bring more Asian lead stories into mainstream media.


Please tell us more about your involvement in taking part in SIPA’s (Search to Involve Filipino Americans) LA Chapter and FACT (Filipino American Charity Trust) in NH

*Noting, we know you do not have full involvement in these organizations yet, but we would love for you to answer with how they impacted your past and what you hope to do with them in the near future.

I don’t have any involvement with SIPA right now, but I have been following them for a while. I really love the community they have built and their efforts to give back to the Philippines. As for FACT, I spent my entire childhood being involved in the organization because my mom was. Growing up in a white suburban town in New Hampshire, there were not a lot of people like me. FACT surrounded me with people to who I could relate to and gave me a place that felt like home. I hope to get more involved in both organizations and give back to the Philippines as much as I can. Most of my family are still in the Philippines, so I know how lucky I am to live my dream in America.


What piece of advice do you have for people looking to pursue an acting career?

For first-time actors, my advice would be to start training and accept it will take a while to book any acting jobs. Many new actors believe that you start working right away, but you don’t. You really have to put in the time and energy to learn the craft before even thinking about working.


As for more seasoned actors trained and trying to book Film/TV, my biggest advice is to get to know who you are. Find what makes you different from everyone else and embrace it. Whether you like that part of yourself or not. Personal growth and confidence in yourself will help a lot in this career. I would also say embrace failure and rejection because I guarantee you will learn something out of it that will get you that much closer to landing that big break.


Personally, I’m a huge fan of Broadway. What are some of your favourite shows?

Obviously, Hamilton. I saw it two years ago in NYC, and it was incredible. That acting, the music, and the story gave me goosebumps the entire time. Book of Mormon was hilarious and entertaining as well. I can’t wait for Broadway to start opening up; I definitely miss going to shows.


Would you be interested in acting on stage/Broadway as well as television?

Right now, I’m focused on Film/TV, but in the future, I would definitely be open to doing a theater project. My initial training was in theater, and I loved it. I really enjoy the freedom and spontaneity you get in the theater.


Check out Kian Talan on the new CBS series NCIS: Hawai’i

Published on Holr Magazine