In the ever-evolving world of theater and film, new and talented artists are constantly emerging, bringing their captivating stories to life on stage and screen. These actors entertain and inspire audiences to reflect on themselves and the world. We are dedicated to spotlighting the industry’s most influential and inspiring artists at New York Art Life. Today, we have the privilege of speaking with Ring Yuqi Yang, a multi-talented performer, and classically-trained actor based in New York City and Washington D.C.
NY Art Life: Hello, Ring! It’s an honor to have you here today. Your versatility in the arts is truly remarkable. From acting to stage combat to theater education, your range of skills continues to impress us. And to top it off, your artistic pursuits extend further into visual art, photography, performance art, design, and writing. It’s safe to say that you are a true multidisciplinary master of the arts. Tell us, is here anything you can’t do?
Ring Yuqi Yang: Thank you for having me and for your kind words! It is truly a pleasure to speak with you today! I like to experiment with different mediums as it’s the only way to express myself. Growing up and experiencing different cities, cultures, and artistic practices have allowed me to blend various elements of these experiences into my work. And doing so, I hope to encapsulate my experiences and perspectives in a more thorough and interesting way. Acting has a special place in my heart, as it allows me to be the canvas for creation, the painter, and the tools. When performing, I can use my whole being to bring the stories and experiences to life. It’s such a powerful and transformative art form.
NY Art Life: That’s a lovely perspective, Ring. We know you are also transitioning into some ‘behind the scene’ work as you will be an assistant director in a feature film called The Weeds, directed by Frank (Feng) Gao, whom you have also worked with before. The film gained a lot of attention when announced. We understand that you are a valuable asset to the production and that the story is both exquisite and of great importance to the Asian and Chinese American communities. Can you share with us more about this film?
Ring Yuqi Yang: Surely! The Weeds is a pivotal work I am honored to be a part of. I think it will make a meaningful impact in continuing breaking stereotypes and combat the lingering effects of discrimination and prejudice against Asian Americans. Our stories need to be seen and heard, especially with the ongoing microaggressions and Anti-Asian hate crimes many Asian Americans face. The Weeds is based on a true story in Philadelphia. It’s about the discrimination many Chinese restaurant owners faced due to the ‘curfew law’ and their subsequent lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia. Stories like this focus on the histories of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian discrimination, providing a crucial lesson about how easily hate can be perpetuated, even at a community level, and how we can prevent these injustices from happening again in the future.
NY Art Life: That is very important, and thank you for sharing. You have brought a lot of freshness and creativity to the screen and the stage, and collaborating with such amazing creators would prove your craft and work ethic. As a multidisciplinary artist, what have been some of your experiences in collaborative processes across different art practices?
Ring Yuqi Yang: Thank you. I’ve been very lucky and humbled to work on many exciting projects and with such great individuals. I have learned something from each person, whether technical or artistic. All mediums serve the same goal, to tell a story, so it’s fascinating to work with people with different approaches and ways of thinking. Collaborating with these artists has greatly informed my art practices and me as a human being. It is truly joyous to find and form a community with like-minded creators. One of which is Frank Gao – we have worked on several projects, and he is truly a visionary who brings the team together to create inspiring work. I am excited to see what magic we will make this time with The Weeds.
NY Art Life: That is truly remarkable. No wonder you are a talent many would love to collaborate with. You starred in the horror film Bakemono which won many awards. It won Best Horror at the Tokyo International Short Film Festival, and an award in the same category at the New Wave Short Film Festival. It also won the Platinum Award at the Spotlight Short Film Awards. But your talent extends beyond the screen, as you have also been part of excellent productions of plays and adaptations in the theater. How do you approach each discipline? Is there one that you prefer over the other?
Ring Yuqi Yang: Thank you, it’s truly a collaborative effort, with talented minds like Sumire Takamatsu and Jorge Lucas bringing it all to life. I am only a small part of this project. Again, film and theater are different approaches to a similar end, and I enjoy working on either platform. While films are more accessible nowadays, the enchantment of theater is in real-time engagement with the audience. The presence required from the actors and the audiences and the immediate response is something truly unique to the theater. I think this is also why I enjoy performing Shakespeare so much. These timeless stories continue to resonate with the audiences, and I am very honored to make it alive with my vessel.
NY Art Life: Surely. You were Aumerle/Groom in Richard II, produced by Her Majesty and Sons, and the swing in the Hayes-nominated production of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by acclaimed director Simon Godwin at the Shakespeare Theater Company. It received praise from Washington Post and broad audience appreciation. We rarely see an Asian actor take on Shakespeare, especially when English isn’t their first language. Can you share your experience and inspiration in performing Shakespeare?
Ring Yuqi Yang: Thank you. I am very grateful for all the support and opportunities I’ve been given. My love for Shakespeare can be traced back to watching the recording of James Earl Jones performing Othello at the White House. It was a magical moment for me, as I discovered music in the English language. But did you know that James Earl Jones was mute for a long time? His perseverance and capabilities inspire me, and so does Michelle Yeoh, has also been a role model for me in the industry and paved the way for us Asian American actors. I aspire to be an artist like that and want to continue working on my craft to bring forth these stories. I am thrilled to see more new work and recognition of the Asian American community in the arts.
NY Art Life: That is beautiful. Thank you for your time and this delightful chat.
Ring Yuqi Yang: Thank you for having me; the pleasure is all mine!