News Column

Actor with diverse roles on his resume to be honored with Rising Star Award

October 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 17--One day, he's a drug lord. The next, he's a tattooed baby daddy. And now, he's a superhero. It's all part of the job for Harry Shum Jr., best known as Mike Chang on the Fox hit series "Glee."

Shum, 31, first made his mark as a street-style dancer but is branching out into diverse projects, one reason the California native is this year's recipient of EuroCinema Hawaii's Rising Star Award, an honor he will pick up at tonight's sold-out gala at the Moana Surfrider.

"I'm very humbled," Shum said in a phone interview. "I'm still learning and trying to do as much as I can to expand in what I do in film and television, so I'm very honored to receive this award."

A month ago, Shum finished shooting "Revenge of the Green Dragons," a Martin Scorsese-produced crime drama based on the real-life story of Chinese immigrants in New York City in the 1980s and the gangs that ran rampant in Queens.

In a clear departure from his role on family-friendly "Glee," Shum plays drug kingpin Paul Wong, whom the actor describes as "an opportunist when he comes to America, trying to make the most of it."

While immersing himself in the character over the summer, Shum was also shooting the comedy "Moms' Night Out," in which he plays a dad who loses his child at a tattoo parlor.

"I'm having a great time exploring different characters and different projects and jumping out to different places," Shum said. "It's really fun to morph into different characters."

Shum is also working on a Web series called "Caper" about superheroes who go broke and get involved in a heist.

While he is no longer a regular on "Glee," Shum thinks the show will occasionally bring him back "when the opportunity's right." (Show creator Ryan Murphy announced Wednesday the series will end next season.)

His one appearance this season came in last week's episode, "The Quarterback," a tribute to Cory Monteith, who played Finn on the series before his July 13 death from a drug overdose.

"I'm just glad that I got to be there and pay tribute to him," he said.

Shum was born in Costa Rica, moving with his family to San Francisco at the age of 6.

He was a lead dancer performing with stars such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, and appeared in the dance films "You Got Served," "Stomp the Yard," "Step Up 2: The Streets" and "Step Up 3D."

Shum said the movies remain popular because young audiences can relate to situations in which characters are driven by the need to follow their passion despite what others might think.

"The story of being an underdog and trying to prove to yourself that you can do this, you can utilize dance and make something of yourself, I think it's very true for me, how I grew up," Shum said.

"Dance is just contagious. At heart, people just enjoy something about movement and people relate to that. It speaks to everyone."

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