Mulan was my all-time favorite Disney film growing up! So you could imagine my excitement when Disney announced the live-action adaptation of Mulan now available on DisneyPlus. Join me as I sit down with actor Jun Yu, who plays Cricket, a skilled-archer, and Mulan’s comrade as she enters military training. Jun Yu landed this life-changing role while studying at the University of Southern California and hasn’t slowed down since. Appearing in the hit comedy series “Fresh off the Boat” and working on his music career. It’s time to chat about all things related to acting, rapping, and living in your creative purpose. But first, check out that trailer!
1. Tell us about your character in Mulan. Does the film bring something new to this story from Disney’s original 1998 version?
J.Y: So a lot of people ask, who is Cricket? Is he an insect? Or is he a human? So not to give any spoilers away, but in this version, Cricket is a human being. So, I play a fellow soldier, whose name happens to be Cricket. The most exciting thing about this film is there’s something in it for everybody. There are nostalgic pieces for the huge fans of the original animated movie. And those who have never heard of Mulan will fall in love.
2. What is something that we could do as the public to push diversity forward within entertainment?
J.Y: I can say I feel like the projects that come out represent us, and they’re fantastic. We are getting better, but it won’t happen overnight. I think, if Asians and other people of color come together to support films with representation, no one can say anything. It’s up to us, the people, to keep going and grow from here.
3. You have made several appearances on popular shows, including Fresh Off the Boat. Who was the funniest cast member in real life?
J.Y: I only met this guy in passing but man! Randall Park is, by far, just great energy. I mean, again, we very briefly exchanged words, but he’s the kindest and the funniest person I’ve ever talked too.
4. In which area would you like to challenge yourself as an actor?
J.Y: Honestly, I want to do anything and everything! But I guess the most challenging would involve taking on a project that has horror. Because in real life, even an ant really scares me, or a giant spider, haha.
5. How has the quarantine changed you?
J.Y: The one thing quarantine has taught me is to surround yourself with good people- at a safe social distance, of course. It’s your best friends and family that are with you for the rest of your life that truly balance things for you. We can also learn to be a little selfish in terms of our mental state and happiness. Everyone deserves to be joyful and find that peace.
6. Name something simple in life that always puts a smile on your face.
This is a profound question for me because I feel like these past few years have been tough even before COVID-19 hit, concerning my transition from college to the real world without a sense of community. I’m still pretty new to L.A., so quarantine was especially challenging. So I’ve been just trying to expand my craft by listening to and playing music and taking acting classes. And that’s been helping my soul.
7. How did the journey with music start?
J.Y: Many of us kids liked to get into big groups in middle school and do these freestyle ciphers. I started doing that at that age of fourteen, and man, I was terrible. But every day, I’d go home and practice and, over time, it was fun. I continue to freestyle every day, and I have gotten a lot better. It’s like therapy. When people write, they have a stream of consciousness, so putting pen to paper creates an outlet. It’s the same for me, but instead of writing, I rap and let it go into the world. It’s the one thing that soothes me.
8. Tell me about your Debut E.P.? Can you describe your style as a rapper?
J.Y: I take a lot of influences and swag from the Bay Area of San Francisco and, of course, J. Cole. So, in terms of my style, ah, I’d probably say-elegance. I make a point to articulate my words with a good flow. I’ve noticed a lot of new-age rappers can be difficult to hear because the artists are mumbling. Also, everything I write about speaks to my experience and what I’m going through. Music helps me deal with the ups and downs of life and express the different worlds I pass through.
9. What would be your dream collaboration?
J.Y: Man, if it’s dead or alive, I would probably have to say, Mac Dre. My friends and I would blast his music all the time. Mac Dre is the king; he’s such a dope rapper.
10. What impact do you hope to have as an artist?
J.Y: I want it to be inspiring! Growing up, I didn’t have anybody who looked like me or any industry representation to look up to. So I want people to see Mulan and know they are not alone; there’s many us. Please don’t close your mind off to things you think are impossible; go out and achieve it! I want so many other young Asian artists to take a shot at their dream and pursue it because we need more. I hope to leave that legacy behind.
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