When The Millennial Source developed our weekly segment “Headliners,” the idea was to profile influential movers-and-shakers in the world.
This week we were pleased to interview Chase Tang, actor and mental health advocate, to learn more about his journey from the corporate world to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams.
The first pivot
Tang was born in Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada with a passion for hockey. He dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player and was in fact quite good, playing AAA as a kid in Bedford.
In an interview with Canada’s The Chronicle Herald, Tang recounted his prowess in the rink. “I got to be very good for my age, and very dominant on the ice, even at 12 or 13.”
However, a knee injury at 13 would sideline him and lead him into his first struggle with depression. Unable to play, he fell behind on his athletic trajectory and the physical setback proved to be just as challenging emotionally.
Rather than focusing on the athletic dreams that now seemed unreachable, Tang sought a new path. Although considering acting and modeling from a young age and even being encouraged to do so by people in his life, he ended up landing in something more secure.
Tang subsequently graduated from the University of Guelph in Ontario with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a focus on marketing. Soon after, he set his sights onto climbing the corporate ladder, which he did, climbing his way up for eight years before he came to a breaking point.
The second start
After eight years of the corporate grind, things began to wear on Tang. He didn’t see himself going anywhere in the field and felt his life was plateauing.
In an interview with Taiwanese American Tang recounted, “I was struggling with some personal issues near the end of 2015 and realized my career was not only in standstill, but lacking any progression. I was just going through the motions, going in circles and really just wasting my life away. I was in the worst shape of my life, and I was extremely unhappy.”
This realization brought Tang to another of depression in his life.
In May 2016, he took his first acting class and set his sights on a new passion moving forward.
After adopting the name “Chase” from his given name Chia Hao and two years of acting classes, Tang began landing smaller gigs and commercial spots.
A role in a Rui Wang directed short film “View,” brought Tang to the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and represented a milestone in his up-and-coming journey to Hollywood.
Currently, Tang is set to play the villain Baryon in the anticipated Netflix superhero series “Jupiter’s Legacy,” which is rumored to premiere later this year.
The third act
Tang’s own experience with setbacks that led him down a mentally dark path has informed his focus on advocating for mental health. He does this by speaking openly about his own experiences as well as the stories of others close to him who have also struggled with mental health issues.
Tang also uses his platform to promote other philanthropic efforts like his endeavors in environmentalism, teaming up with “The World is in Our Hands” – a United Nations (UN) program to promote climate change awareness.
According to the UN Environment Program, this initiative “builds upon the UN’s coordinated #ActNow campaign designed to raise awareness, ambition, and action around climate change and to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement.”
Tang is not far into his entertainment career, but he’s already experienced a bit of life and is making the most of his ongoing journey.
When we asked him what advice he might have for his younger self, it was all about making the most of your opportunities. “Learn every day, become a student of life,” he said. “Master the art of making money, success, relationships and always fact check and do your own due diligence.”
We had a few more questions for Tang to get his insight on progressing with passion and chasing dreams.
You transitioned from the corporate world into the entertainment industry. What made you take that leap and what was the change like for you?
I was always so passionately obsessed about everything to do with film and television and so curious about Hollywood. I knew it was going to be difficult starting from the ground up and especially without a theater background. It ended up being much harder than I had anticipated, however, I applied the same work ethic I did in the corporate and became a true student of the industry.
To move into acting, you hustled and worked hard to hone your craft. Where did you find your motivation in pursuing this dream?
To me, it was never a dream, I believe there was a winning formula and as long as you were willing to put in the time [and] work intelligently, it was very doable. I believe I just need things to line [with] the right timing for an opportunity to meet preparation for me.
You are passionate about speaking out about mental health. Where does this passion come from?
I have immense experience with mental illness; two particular incidents in my life. Once in 2004, where I suffered from extreme depression and social phobia, and the second time in 2015 which was the worst time of my life [with] panic attacks and severe anxiety. It was beyond awful, and I do not wish it upon anyone.
I also have friends and family who suffer from mental illness, and it’s crippling and so sad to watch this illness ruin any happiness or joy in their life.
If you could tell someone struggling with depression or anxiety one bit of advice, what would it be?
If you’re willing to organize your life into mini challenges (from finances, health, relationship and career,) make an effort to be strategic [and] work on each of these with intense focus and almost to the level of perfection, I assure you, your mental state will dramatically improve.
How have you been handling life during the pandemic? Any tips for people self-isolating for coping with lockdown?
I’m not trying to over-analyze or predict the future because there is so much uncertainty at this point. I am still exercising and working out a lot and eating well and maybe treating myself to more cheat meals. I’m spending a lot more time with my fiance, and we are watching a ton of movies and TV shows because prior to COVID-19 it was almost impossible for us to find this quality time to spend hours together and binge on movie and television entertainment.
Ultimately, just trying to be thankful for what we do have and making the most of every day.
Describe your professional journey using three words.
Plan, execute, persist.
Describe your mind in three words.
Stoic, peaceful, fearless.
What are 3 words you would use to describe your character/ you as a person?
Ambitious, discipline, relentless.
What does it mean to you to be “successful?”
Living your life to the fullest, being better than yesterday and maximizing every ounce of potential you’ve been blessed with.
What’s something you’re currently working on achieving?
Becoming an amazing husband/fiance.
What’s your spirit animal? And why?
There are so many spirit animals I love and can relate to, but if I had to choose one, it’d be a lion. The lion spirit animal represents courage [and] strength in overcoming difficulties.
What is one critical moment in your life that has shaped you and where you are today?
When I took 100% accountability for every single aspect of my life, both good and bad [and] challenges and opportunities.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional athlete, specifically to play in the NHL.