Linda Wang Interview with HairBoutique.com
I recently caught up by phone with beautiful Asian American actress Linda Wang in NYC.
The lovely lady is currently working on not one, but many voice-over projects for such companies as AT&T, Magellan, IDT, Citibank, Holdcom, Bizfon, Ford Motor Company, Berkley Productions and Western Union.
Quite an impressive list. But then Linda is quite an impressive and talented lady.
Linda has a rich, sensuous voice and speaks (as well as reads and writes) fluent Mandarin Chinese. She's definitely in demand as a voice-over talent.
In recent years, Linda has been commuting back and forth between New York and Los Angeles for her acting career. I asked her if she preferred one location to the other.
While Linda grew up in Queens, New York (she was born in Taiwan) and loves the melting pot feeling of The City, she said she absolutely adores the weather in Southern California.
We chatted a little about NYC (which is one of my all time favorite cities in the world). Linda agreed with me about what an exciting and interesting city it is. Linda told me she really enjoyed her years growing up in New York.
Complete Dedication To Her Career
I knew instantly Linda was one of those special people who only happen along every once in a while. I had to ask myself what it was about Linda which convinced me she was so special.
I guess the thing which got to me was how incredibly dedicated Linda is to her work as an actress. She's not afraid to put in her dues, work hard, study and be the best she can be.
I totally relate to her dedication and drive towards her career. In fact, I feel exactly the same way about my own career. As a result, I felt Linda was a kindred spirit.
So many people want to be in the business of making movies so they they can be famous or a big star. Not so with Linda. She's sincerely committed to being the best actress she can be. Whether she's ever famous or not doesn't matter to Linda.
While I'm sure Linda would agree it would be nice to receive recognition, that's what really seems to motivate her. Linda wants to give 1000% to her craft. As long as Linda is allowed to act she's doing what she believes is her true life path.
Linda pointed out she's not in acting for the short term. She is dedicated to do this for the rest of her life on this planet.
Passionate About Life & Her Beliefs
Not only is Linda fluent in Chinese, she is also incredibly beautiful, talented and passionate about life.
Even more impressive is the fact that Linda Wang is also driven to help Asian Americans actors break through some of the many barriers that prevent people of her race from getting opportunities in the film and movie industry.
Although it was my initial intention to talk with Linda about her gorgeous, Pantene and Head & Shoulders endorsed, shiny long black locks, I was so impressed with her intelligence and life's philosophies I asked her to talk to me about her dreams and goals for her life.
I have to confess I really liked Linda a lot. I could feel her beauty and kindness radiating through the phone. This is a special lady who cares so much about so many things. Linda radiates spirituality. Linda is not only articulate and warm, she is funny and caring about people.
Becoming The Character Is What Counts
I asked Linda if she had an opinion about the recent controversy with Asian actress Bai Ling who shaved her gorgeous 4 feet of long hair for the opportunity to act in Anna And The King with Jody Foster.
Note: For more information on this topic check out Hairboutique.com's Bai Ling article
I asked Linda if she would be willing to shave her gorgeous hair for a similar situation or role. She didn't hesitate at all. She said she would definitely shave her head if it was essential to the character and the plot of the project.
Linda told me before she takes on a role she really takes time to do a very thorough script analysis and break down the elements of the character.
As Linda explained it, if the character requires a scene with head shaving or even altering their appearance in some way, then the actor playing the part must honor the true character.
After all, she continued, a great actress is taking on the part of the character.
In some circumstances Linda said she would definitely be willing to alter her hair or appearance to honor the character or the part. That is part of the commitment she has towards her craft and goal of being the best actress that she can be. If a role requires a physical challenge for a valid reason, Linda will honor it.
I wasn't surprised when Linda said she would never alter her physical appearance in the name of pure shock value or to just sell movie tickets. She would only alter her appearance for the sake of providing the very best characterization of the role for her audience.
This was just one of the many examples I experienced throughout the interview of Linda demonstrating her true love for the acting profession.
Her goal is to provide the best characterization of a role she possibly can. If it means shaving her head like Bai Ling, and the character must experience this, than so will Linda.
I could really relate to many things Linda said about her profession and some of the sacrifices actors and actresses must make for their craft.
Although I have never acted in anything, except to convince my Mom I was too sick to go to school, I could fully understand Linda's experiences.
Linda's Passion For Equality For Asian American Actors
Besides her intense love for acting, Linda is also passionate about helping to promote the cause of Asian American actors who have limited opportunities because of their race.
Linda mentioned she really admires David E.Kelly for his innovative use of Asian American actress Lucy Liu as an integral member of the Ally McBeal show.
As Linda pointed out, David created Lucy's character not as a token Asian, but as an integral member of the overall plot.
Linda wants to see Asian actors and actresses play parts of regular everyday people like friends, coworkers and romantic interests.
She wishes for Asians to have acting parts where they are "People" not "Asians." Linda believes Kelly's use of Liu has broken down many previous acting barriers which limited acting for many Asian performers.
We talked about Asians on TV shows such as The View and ER. We also discussed Lucy Liu's role in the forthcoming Charlie's Angels along with other shows where Asians are involved not as Asians, but as members of the cast.
David E. Kelly & Bill Cosby Are Her Heroes
Not only is Linda very high on the efforts of Kelly, she also admires Bill Cosby.
Both Kelly and Cosby would have seats of honor at Linda's fantasy dinner party.
Not only does Linda respect both men for what they've done for minorities in the acting world, she admires their willingness to be controversial and push down barriers.
Part of the tremendous respect Linda has for Bill Cosby stems from the fact he has personally offered her support and encouragement for her acting goals.
When Bill talked to Linda by phone, he told her Asian Americans are still many years behind African Americans and Latin Americans in the eyes of the media. Bill told Linda not to give up. He told her to be the best she can be and keep working on her craft.
Speaking of her craft, I asked how her very conservative parents felt about her chosen profession of acting. She said her parents were originally against it, but in recent years they are OK with her choice because they understand it's her passion and makes her happy.
Over the last few years Linda has mastered her acting art to the extent she works on a very regular basis and can support herself from acting. This is important as well as very rewarding to Linda.
Rewarding Acting Experiences
I asked Linda about her work in the Soaps. She said one of her most rewarding roles was on TV's Another World (AW) about 10 months before the show went off the air for good.
She told me she really wanted to play the character she portrayed, but the producers were unsure because it was of a crazy woman in a mental hospital. Not only did Linda convince the AW producers to let her have the part, she found it very rewarding and beneficial to her development as an actress.
Besides her work on "Another World", Linda also had notable appearances on "The Guiding Light" and "As The World Turns" (one of my longtime favs).
In addition to the TV Soaps, she worked on such television shows such as "The Cosby Show," (where she became friends with Bill Cosby) and "Mathnet."
Her movie and film work includes "Scarred City," "Dead Air" and "What Ever Happened to Mason Reece" which was directed by Brett Ratner (Director of Jackie Chan's film "Rush Hour.").
One of Linda's Theatre credits includes an Off - Broadway show called "Serenade In Blue" which was showcased at the very prestigious Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City.
"Serenade In Blue" was written by Tony Award nominated playwright Jerome Coopersmith and directed by Emmy Award director Yanna Kroyt Brandt.
Linda was also featured as "Pocahontas" in an AEA stage production of "Disney Friends Around The World" for Walt Disney Co. in Orlando, Florida.
Guest On Conan O'Brien's Show
Many people may see Linda in her ongoing visits to the Conan O'Brien TV show where she has been playing a recurring Eskimo character since 1993 when the show started.
Linda told me she loves doing the character and really enjoys Conan and his show. I was fascinated as Linda explained all the work that goes into a live show like Conan's and how some times they pre-tape the show for "quality control."
Although Linda has done a lot of different things like theatre, commercials, print ads, voice-overs, TV and movies some of her works are not always shown in the US, which I was very disappointed to hear.
Like the Pantene commercial, the Head & Shoulders commercials were only seen abroad (Canada).
Birds of Passage Movie
Her controversial film "Birds of Passage" co-starring Stacy Keach and French actress Charlotte de Turckheim was released in 1998-1999 in Europe and Asia. Sadly it never made it to release in the United States.
For the film "Birds of Passage" the Chinese government banned the filming of this project in China due to the "One Child Policy" story line. The film later took place in the Philippines.
Linda was cast as Fu, a pregnant Chinese woman who refused to get an abortion. Fu escaped from her husband and family in China in order to keep her baby girl.
To prepare for the part, Linda, who was deemed under weight for the role by the director, started eating non-stop in order to gain weight for the project. She wanted to portray her character more truthfully.
Linda actually moved in with a friend who happened to be pregnant at the time so she "could fully understand what a pregnant woman would act and feel during her last days of her pregnancy."
Linda told me she loves to eat, so gaining weight was not a terrible thing. The tenacious actress lost the weight she gained, plus several more pounds by the end of a very hot filming experience in the Philippines.
Linda told me although she still loves to eat, she jogs 2 miles 2 to 3 times a week to keep her lithe shape.
Pantene And Head & Shoulders Model
Since Hairboutique.com is all about hair and Linda is known as the beautiful Asian hair model for Pantene and Head & Shoulders, we agreed to turn the focus of the interview to Linda's gorgeous hair.
Note: Photo of Linda's Pantene ad to the side is copyright of Proctor & Gamble - all rights strictly reserved.
Although Linda was the Pantene Pro V Shampoo model that Pantene (1994-1995) used throughout Asia, her commercials, unfortunately, were never shown in the United States.
Linda had lots of very interesting information to share about the Pantene hair commercials which she told me she enjoyed shooting.
Linda noted in her wildest dreams she never thought she had a chance of getting the Pantene booking. She relayed a fascinating story about her audition. Linda said she showed up at the Pantene interviews to a room full of gorgeous high fashion New York models with beautiful hair and faces.
Note: Photo below by Michael C. Meyer of Asian American actress Linda Wang (Center) working on a commercial for "Head & Shoulders" Shampoo in 2000 - Procter & Gamble - All Rights Reserved.
Linda was in total awe of how tall most of the models were.
She laughed and told me at her petite 5' 6" height she felt like she was in a room with beautiful giraffes since New York high fashion models all start at 5' 9" and above.
As always, Linda decided even if she didn't have the slightest chance of getting the commercial, she was going to give 100% of herself to giving the very best audition possible.
She did, and was shocked, but pleased, to be named the Pantene hair model for Asia.
Linda and I talked at length about the Pantene commercials. While she's not allowed to talk about some things related to shooting the commercial, she did say it was an interesting and very rewarding experience. She enjoyed the entire experience very much.
Although Linda has Asian hair which tends to be very straight, she thought it was interesting they used giant irons to straighten her hair even further.
Challenges Of Asian Hair
One hair topic led to another and I asked Linda how she achieves such gorgeous shiny hair. I also asked her if she faced any unusual hair challenges.
Linda told me that majority of Asian hair is very straight and therefore almost impossible to curl without chemicals.
She explained as a rule, Asian hair is also very thick and coarse, which adds to the problems with creating styles other people can more easily wear with their hair type.
Linda noted how frustrating it is for her because her Asian hair doesn't give her a lot of choices in how she wears her hair.
Unless she really works hard at curling her hair and uses a really strong hairspray, her hair will just not hold a curl for more than a few hours.
As a sidebar, Linda explained many older Asian women love to get permanents for their hair because they really want lasting styles with curls. She also noted the younger Asian teens are really into wild hair colors and going blonde.
Linda's Current Hair Care Favs
I asked Linda what products she uses on her hair. She explained she rotates the products she uses because she finds her hair needs to have different products to avoid build up.
Linda really likes Pantene and Head & Shoulders as well as Vidal Sasson's conditioners. She explained she doesn't use Pantene and Head & Shoulders just because she modeled for their products. She really does like the products.
Linda explained from time to time she will also use different hair products which appeal to her or might provide a great hold for her hard-to-hold hair.
She added about once a month she uses Alberto V05 hot oil treatment as a special treat for her hair.
Linda's Rebellious Hair Period
Linda hasn't always had an easy or traditional hairstyle. She related how she went through a rebellious hair period during her high school years. During this time period Linda actually shaved and spiked one side of her head. She left the other side long in various shades of colors.
She reported her traditional Asian parents were extremely unhappy with her rebellious hair styles. Her father was very upset and told her she would have to leave home unless she stopped wearing her hair in that style. Her mother was equally upset and actually refused to go out with Linda in public.
As all teens do, Linda grew out of that rebellious hair phase and currently she is into wearing her hair in a simple but easy style. She prefers "no fuss" for her hair at the current time.
Linda's Current Hairstyles & Tips
While Linda's hair has, in the past been very long (to her waist), she recently had approximately 3 1/2 inches cut off the ends because she felt her hair was too long and needed to be trimmed. Linda promised she will probably let it get long again over time.
While Linda currently wears her thick hair mostly straight, she does take pride in how healthy her hair is. I asked Linda her thoughts on how to get really healthy, shiny hair.
Linda believes there are some set rules that everyone needs to follow in order to have healthy hair.
She believes it's important to get enough sleep, live well and eat well. Linda also said she believes you should give your hair a "day off". Whenever possible she lets her hair rest one day a week from shampoo and washing. Linda believes if you follow these principles you will be on the right path to having really great hair.
I asked Linda if she had bad hair days or if her hair always looked as beautiful as it did in the commercials and in her photos.
Linda laughed and told me she has bad hair days like everyone else. Her hair, which she noted is moody, tends to get oily in the summer. She noted oily hair is definitely a problem when she gets hot or starts to sweat.
Linda laughed and told me that she has frightful hair especially in the mornings when she walks her dogs after she's slept on her hair all night.
Hair Linda Admires
We talked about people whose hair that Linda admired. She is a big admirer of singer Shania Twain and actress Nicole Kidman's beautiful copper colored ringlets.
Linda pointed out Nicole's gorgeous hair. She really admires not only how beautiful Nicole's hair is, but how curly it is.
I told her I had read Nicole sometimes wishes her hair was straight like Linda's. Laughing she said it seems we all think the hair grass is always greener on the other side of the hair pasture.
People with curly hair want straight thick hair like Linda while Linda would love to have hair which holds a curl and can be done up in some of the different hairstyles. Unfortunately her own hair just won't hold the curls she loves so much.
I asked Linda if she had a favorite "celebrity" stylist or salon that she liked to go to. We talked about Laurent D in Hollywood and Sally Hershberger who "does" Meg Ryan's hair.
Although Linda agreed it's nice to have your hair worked on by one of the great hair stylists, at this point she is focused on trying a lot of different stylists and salons to find a good fit. She also likes to keep her hair simple.
Linda reported she likes to experiment a lot and will try different salons for the benefit of a new hair experience. Because she's wearing her hair longer and with minimum fuss, she only needs to get regular trims. She doesn't currently spend a lot of time in the salon scene.
Since Linda was so knowledgeable about so many topics, I asked her if she was into Asian herbs, acupuncture or Asian astrology. Linda (who is an October 10th Libra) told me she's really not into any of those subjects at the present, but maybe she will look into them some day.
She noted her mother who practices "Tai -Chi" every morning is really into Asian herbs & foods finding lots of benefit in them.
Next On The Acting Agenda
I realized an hour had flown by like the wind during my talk with Linda. I was sad our time was almost over. I asked Linda what was up next for her.
She told me she's working on several potential roles. She's very open to any character role which will help advance her skills and ability as an actress.
Of course she couldn't talk about the roles she's currently working on in detail, but she told me acting is her passion and she wants to find roles where she can communicate her love of her craft through her characters.
Linda's Quote For HairBoutique.com
Linda also told me that she likes to give a special quote with each interview which is a special and unique one-of-a-kind quote. I was honored when Linda told me she had written a special quote for Hairboutique.com visitors.
Linda's quote: "My survival depends on clean air, pure water and opportunities from agents, casting directors and industry referrals like Hairboutique.com."
I enjoyed chatting with Linda so much, I stopped and went back and read her many bios on the Web. I noticed sometimes she will say she "Was Made in Taiwan". I could hear her saying those words.
Linda has a fabulous sense of humor and fun which definitely radiates through her charming and gentle side.
I have to admit I'm now one of her biggest fans. After spending so much time with Linda, I have no doubt someday I'll see this beautiful and gifted lady walking up those steps at the award shows. I just hope she writes and tells me who did her hair for the show.
The Hairboutique.com would like to give special thanks to Linda for her gracious gift of time and for sharing her private photos with me so we could create the Linda Wang gallery which is an exclusive new gallery now available at HairBoutique.com.
Finally we would like to thank Pete of the Linda Wang ring who started this whole ball rolling. (Thank you Pete).
Original Publication Date: 05/04/2000 - Revised Date: 06/09/2013
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