hi, i'm chris.
I am an actor by accident. I tripped and fell into performance art. It’s a strange story. Let me rewind.
Throughout my life, I have continually played roles in order to meet others’ expectations, and from a desperate fear of boredom. Ever since my father died when I was young, and since my family drove me to succeed across academic and professional domains regardless of my personal interest, I developed an unexpected, secretive, creative passion for role-playing--of taking on each emotional, intellectual, and physiological trapping of any given identity to the persuasion of those around me.
At the age of 4, my dad and primary role model passed away.
I am directionless child, effeminate boy, fearful minority.
At the age of 8, my mother remarried to a towering German American who would treat me as a financial investment and corporate employee for the twenty years of our relationship.
I am hungry for affection, grateful for attention, performing for recognition.
At the age of 10, I entered a premier youth symphony and began my touring career as principal violist, performing in a half-dozen countries at venues including Dvořák Hall in Prague, Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, Musikverein in Vienna, Teatro dell'Opera in Florence.
I am young musician, global traveler, bridge builder.
At the age of 12, I took the SAT early and was invited by Johns Hopkins University to study accelerated physics and humanities to “enrich” my life.
I am precocious but bored, ambitious but jaded, conscientious but impatient.
At the age of 13, friends and I deduced algorithms used by the world’s first multinational smartphone company to issue serial numbers for their new palm pilots, and used them to steal thousands of dollars of merchandise from their affiliate cash-rebate program--which nearly got my family sued and our group expelled from one of the top prep schools in California.
I am experimenter, pragmatist, delinquent.
By the age of 18, I had become a regular street racer, started a fight club with buddies, ostracized myself from my student body for a marijuana scandal that did result in expulsion and suspension for many of my friends and me, won regional championships in badminton from training 20 hours a week with a former member of the Chinese national team, and built a 9-inch Newtonian reflecting telescope before graduating among the top of my high school class.
I am academic and athletic, autonomous and ostentatious, errant and exuberant.
At the age of 20, studying neuroscience and anthropology and convinced that I would change the world through social medicine, I fundraised for several nonprofits involved with infectious disease prevention and disaster relief and flew to the epicenter of the 2010 Haiti megathrust earthquake to work with World Wide Village, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Partners In Health--handling a colorful array of responsibilities from running pharmaceuticals to hospital triage to administering anesthesia to suturing wounds to rubbling derelict homes to building field clinics to babysitting displaced orphans--in the midst of aftershocks and hurricanes.
I am contrarian, proletarian, humanitarian.
At the age of 21, I partnered with the Forest Foundation and a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Harvard Medical School to pilot a work-study program for a cohort of undergrads to gather epidemiological data, conduct sociocultural research, and teach public and personal health curricula as well as environmental awareness in the two neediest slums of Lusaka, Zambia, where there is one of the poorest formal economies and highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world.
I am idealist, activist, social scientist.
By the age of 25, disillusioned with a transnational biomedical institution that pathologized every human “abnormality” to eventually propagate itself on high-volume sales of expensive drugs treating late-stage illnesses, and hopeful that socioeconomic inequality could be effectively alleviated, and with it resources for good health and education distributed, through simultaneous deployment of capital, spread of free knowledge, and inspiration of altruism (i.e. love)--I wanted to take on everyone’s problems, and I had become manic. I operated the largest international angel investment group in China, helped launch 20 social enterprises between Asia and the US/UK, and founded two companies of my own. (The first a wellness content platform that localized writing from health specialists including doctors, nutritionists, and fitness instructors and pushed it out through China’s most popular social media platform WeChat. It failed. The second a foreign exchange fund that managed a hot flurry of small investments without following federal regulations. It took in a couple hundred thousand dollars in three months.)
I am risk seeker. I am evangelist. I am entrepreneur.
I lost myself to the allure of capital, and I balled out of control. I hurt, but I could no longer distinguish between pain and pleasure. My nerves were afire, and I had to extinguish them. So I shut myself in. I isolated, I lived alone for months, and I meditated for over 1000 hours. And suddenly there it was again, the need for exhilaration. So I ran. I ran my first marathon in Seoul. Then I ran 52 miles over the mountains of Turkey. A 7100-foot vertical climb. I nearly died descending in the pitch darkness. It wasn’t enough. I had to escalate. I had to levitate. I would never see the pit before falling in. This temperament, it wasn’t rational. It was artistic.
Masochist. Optimist. Artist.
Only after realizing that I had spent my life aping convention, performing what was expected of me, and running from failure in those pursuits, only then could I hear my own curiosity.
These are some of the roles that I’ve played, from selfless clinician to self-interested currency trader, from emaciated ascetic to ultra-distance runner. I will be the frenetic prodigy CEO, the depressed addict, or the enlightened yogi depending on which foil the person nearest me demands. I’ve willfully occupied each, with reluctance. But I willingly act, with purpose. I electively, hungrily look for experiences and identities outside my own so that I can hold them for the few truthful moments that I am able to. However possible it is, and however naturally it comes to me, refuting another’s separate existence from my own--and then another, and then another--is what gives me faith in each day and peace in my sleep.
If we’re lucky, we discover endeavors that are worth our while. Here’s to the love I can shine on him such that you might see your own flaws and virtues in a stranger.
P.S. I was emasculated and oppressed by my stepfather growing up, and sexually abused by my cousin as a child, but those are experiences that have ultimately made me stronger. Me too. Whatever it is you want to do, if you're willing to sweat and bleed for it, you will achieve it.
#emmywinner #netflix #hbo
You are so much like my son, who also believes that…"art, entertainment, and the creation of social technologies are the key to increasing inspiration, happiness, and peace in the world.”
I’ll tell you what I told him:
* Don’t battle against what is.
* Let go of attachment to approval, accomplishment, pretense, the mask.
* Seek honesty and your truth - truth comes in many flavors.
* Trust your inner wisdom to lead you down the right path.
* Seek joy.
* Find compassion.
* Dance in your passion.
I hope you will get to work with him someday.
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Thank you Alice! I'm very touched. Who is your son?
c h r i s
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His name is Alex Escher. Not quite as accomplished as you, but he’s done a lot for a 25 year old.
His “shadow” is impatience with ignorance and frustration with mediocrity - you can probably relate to that! Instead of embracing the shadow, he goes into horse stance and readies for combat. The idea of creating pearls out of irritations hasn’t occurred to him, yet, but I hope that bit of wisdom stays with you.
lilmeditations This is part 2 of a 3 part poem post (see the following two posts for parts 2 and 3) - I am dealing here with that old idea of remembering the past, while making the most of the present. We need to let bygones be bygones, we need to not be overburdened by old baggage or stuck in outdated ways. But at the same time … -
#poet #poetry #modernpoetry #literature #write #writer #writing #writers #blog #blogger #bloggersofig #poem #poems #inspiration #motivation #meditation #meditate #history #philosophy #chicago #chitown #chicagophotography #littlemeditationspoems #peaceful #peace #gratitude #art #artist #quote #quoteoftheday
fungable We love your post!!!!
lilmeditations @fungable Thank you. Who is 'we'?
fungable @lilmeditations my manager and her team. i like this one too
lilmeditations @fungable Ah okay, I never know if comments on here are actual humans or not - especially this one, since it's tied to the post immediately before and after it! I read your bio on your website, heavens to betsy you've done been around the block a time or two in your day pretty wild. All the best, thanks for commenting 💕
fungable @lilmeditations np man thank you for taking the time to connect. i really enjoy your thoughts on self exploration and oneness of us all
Mr. Funguy. 🍄 - dropping by to let you know you’ve inspired me. After reading your bio via your website I was left impressed and attracted to your, what seems to be, success story. I wanted to offer you congratulations on your successes thus far and wish you all the best on your journey. I’d consider it a privilege if our crosses pass - see you on the big screen bud. 👍😁
haha thanks so much Jeremiah! it’s great to hear from you. are you an actor too?
Any time! Well, I tend to act like one. 😂 I’m a novice - when I was 17 I helped a someone I met get out of a bad situation in L.A. I was about to move there, but I went back home 🏡 because of the experience. Now, I’m looking to start again - not letting one experience get me down. There’s plenty more experience to be had.
I work in IT at the moment, and I aspire to work as an actor.
TBH: my training consists of me in Choconut Pa - town of 600 at 16/17yo reading Stella Adler and the Stanford Meisner approach + a few other reads dreaming of California. 😆 I’ve got a lot of work to do.
This instagram is my first foray into social media in 4 years since then.
Is there anything you’d recommend to me in my situation? I haven’t quite gotten into many communities and am not sure what holds real value. Any insights would be supremely invaluable. ☺️ Have a happy new year Fung!
wow dude you’re an adventurer
that’s a really cool story and it’s inspiring to hear you’re not letting the bad experience get you down
adler and meisner are both amazing foundations so i’m sure you’re growing quickly
mm i’d say moving to CA is a good choice - you can make it anywhere but it’s hard to argue with the sheer volume of creative talent and industry activity in california… what time frame you thinking?
That’s a good question. It’s - do you dive right in, and leave everything (which, I would do) - or do you work with what you have and tap into networks locally. This is the year I’d like to start working at building up experience and getting time in.
How do you get yourself in front of local projects (college videos, startups etc.) ? Is that something you’ve found through personal networking, or is there some sort of agency or management involved. I hope you don’t mind me being candid. I am very curious, fascinated actually. I’d like know, knowledge is armor, and it’s a rough business to break into without being exploited.
Definitely an adventurer
As are you!
Pardon my interview tactics, an actor I may be, however - a brute of a reporter I am. 😆
haha yeah the smartest thing is knowing the importance of knowing
mm i’m not sure how things are where you are exactly but if it’s anything like the ecosystem in NY and SF i started out 1) responding to every single casting notice for every project that was out there, even doing a ton of extra/background work that wasn’t real acting, just to get my foot in the door; 2) bumming around and spending way too much time at NYU Tisch cause film students are always working on stuff; 3) finding a solid acting teacher after auditing a ton of different people to see if
their mentorship was something i’d really connect with (cause technique itself is common across a lot of acting schools and teachers who may not be very good); 4) looking up the best agencies in my area based on not just size of their roster of talent but specifically what projects their actors were booking, my level of talent compared to those people, whether i could do better / whether it would be a stretch, and making sure the agency wasn’t so big or clearly spread thin across all the talent
so that i wouldn’t be treated like cattle to make them money on a commission (look for an intimate feel, a person who’s really in your camp and wants to champion you, who is a loving people person - that agent will naturally have good industry connections and help you in the long haul as well); 5) sending a tailored and specific cover letter and my head shot (take head shots if you don’t have them but i imagine you do cause of all the photography on your IG) to all the agencies asking for an
interview, and then taking my pick from the ones who responded to go in and interview, at which point you should be prepared to read short script sides for commercials (e.g. coca cola, honda, etc) using the right tone for the brand (cereal is probably wholesome family tone, lincoln automotive is probably manly and executive hence matthew m being their spokesmodel for a while, jim beam another tone etc) + have a dramatic and a comedic monologue prepared, each about sixty seconds, to give them an
idea of what you can do for non-commercial (i.e. art film and tv, the creative stuff we all really want to do), and then beyond that they’ll take your height and clothing measurements and stuff
after booking an agent you should treat it as a healthy competition with them. i.e. keep up the hustle and submit yourself for projects, even if they prefer that you don’t, cause at the end of the day if you are creating more deal flow than they are, getting more auditions through your own research and submissions (on e.g. actorsaccess or your local Casting Networks division), then they’re not doing their job cause you’re being your own agent better than they are — if that turns out to be the ca
to be the case, let them know, light a fire under their butt, or switch agencies
rinse, repeat, make new friends, do more interesting work, keep being loving and kind and helpful to everyone around you, and that’s pretty much it
in my experience :)
🙏🏻 🙇 This was the most well articulated, meaningful, and insightful response I could have hoped for. Thank you Chris - for your invaluable effort and advice. I look forward to seeing more of you. I’m sure I will. This is really encouraging. 😄 I hope I’ll be able to repay you as I develop. Have a happy new year Chris!
Reading this was like a wake up. A fresh infusion of inspiration. You rock! 🤘
Thanks again for sharing your experience
you’re awesome happy new year!!
I rarely post anymore because the words don't flow, that's not my aptitude. So I'll let stream-of-consciousness do the speaking for me, even if it's misconstrued. Friends asking..."Millie, are you dead?" I send back an emoji ghost, or a face with two x's for eyes. I don't know how to share the weight of my emotion, while I sit in isolation letting texts bury texts, voicemails and messages become mountains. The last year and a half, what a whirlwind. Drowning in self doubt, self pity. The fire under my ass needs more kindling. I berate myself, hate myself, and seek inspiration, but everything looks gray, excitement scarce. "You can do most anything you put your mind to," I say to myself in the mirror over and over but I can't find my original grind. Too many directions and not enough time. I've been a clown, a doorgirl, a girl being dragged under a bed. A bunny batting away Easter eggs, Mr. Claus's other half, I've been a photographer, a social media marketer, and occasionally I design. I've been an AirBnb host for a couple summer months, made some good friends while others were nightmares. Sometimes I cater, and now I do stand-up comedy, I found the gig on craigslist. Once I was an improv actor, a shotgirl, and a server at this really cool bar. People will pay you to compromise who you are, but there's nothing to compromise when you're lost. I've pissed people off, been irresponsible as hell because I couldn't find that direction. Then there are the relationships I've let drizzle away, too consumed, selfishly dealing with my own self-worth demons, inconsiderate is probably what they'd call me. They might say, "You've let us down," and to that I'd say, "Most of all, I've disappointed myself." Then one night, mid-fight, I'm told that numbing serum is flushed down the toilet. I scream and scream and scream and scream. The screams tear through my torso, searing my insides like steak, and my heart is kick-boxing my chest. I haven't screamed in over a year. A few more grunts, an attempted burning of paper, and a conversation about female equality later...
...the gray veil lifts. May 26th. Suddenly I'm welcomed back to a land full of color. Holy shit, where the hell have I been this whole time? There's mountains to climb, photos I have to take, films I have to act in. Acts of love I want to partake in. People I care about, and they don't even know it, because I haven't said "I love you" lately, in fact, I've barely shown it. I forgot to love others because I didn't love me. So now I feel like a phoenix returning from the ashes, I had to let it all burn down to understand how to grow. Who knew the right fix, was to know yourself well? All of this and money is tight, but I'm living the dream all day and all night. I'm ready to fight the good fight.
It's good to be back. Now that I've returned to the land of the truly alive, if you read this whole thing you deserve some recognition, comment with a link to your stuff or with a recent win or accomplishment of yours! I'd like to check it out and keep the inspiration burning. ✴️
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You are such an immense inspiration. Life can be as hard as passion is hot, but never forever. Many people can't see those periods through to the end of the tunnel, and you're so strong and worthy of admiration, love, all the inspiration and happiness in the world for that tenacity.
Mad respect, and everything else. I know you're going to make a huge mark on the world. There was a feeling when we met, in a different time and place--as I was digging my way through the most trying period of my own life--and I now recognize what that was. In the first 27 years of your life, having traveled everywhere and lived in cities with millions of people, you meet less than a handful of people who you can watch and say, "There's been no one else like her/him. If I'm lucky I'll meet three or four like them before I die?" and you are one of them.
Warmest wishes, strongest tailwinds, and my deepest artistic camaraderie for anything and everything you put your heart and mind to. I hope to one day muster half of what you've shown the world you're made of.
c h r i s
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I'm honestly at a loss for words. Knowing the extent of your travels, and all that you've experienced - thank you. Thank you so much. That was beautiful and I think I'm going to print it out and put it on my wall as a reminder to myself to stay the course.
We were standing outside of that restaurant for Mobstyles - I remember that feeling. I too greatly admire all that you stand and strive for -- you're a warrior of and for the world! I know we'll have another shot at working together and changing the future together through the arts. You don't have to show the world what you're made of, you are already changing it! :)
P.S. I'd love to keep in touch more often. I'm definitely curious to know what you're working on!
My name is Frankie, and six months ago I graduated from Stuyvesant High School. I decided to take a Gap year to pursue a career. Fast forward 6 months, and I’m a on Backstage. I come across Christopher Fung’s website and his project, “SHAM’. There wasn’t a personal email so I sent one to you, his manager. If it isn’t too much to ask for, would you be able to forward this email to Christopher?
I know that I want a career in film acting. But I'm a little discouraged, a little hesitant, and confused. It doesn’t help that my parents just don’t get it. From Christopher’s bio I see that he followed a traditional path for the most part before venturing into being an entrepreneur. I'm asking for help, some advice.
You must be super busy with work, but if you could spare half an hour out of your day some time in the past coming weeks would you be available for coffee? I'd love to ask you questions about the industry, for advice, and just things in general. I know I'll come out of it with something new. It would be an honor.
Thank you so much in advance,
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Great to hear from you! It's inspiring to see that you're following an unconventional path based on what you know. You know you want to act, and you've reached that realization much earlier than I did. It may sound strange that, while I'm a big believer in reaching out to mentors, I also believe that advice can slow down those who are innately creative. Actors, by definition, are creatives. We choose to perform because we accept that every person holds in themselves infinite possibilities. So I'm a bit hesitant to give you specific advice, but I'll try to share what I know.
You may come from a background with hardworking minority parents who are conservative in their worldview because they haven't been able to take much risk to get to where they and you are today; however, because you have the opportunity to more broadly define what fulfills your life going forward, you should seize that with zeal. If after two candid and deep conversations with your family, they completely disregard the possibility of the career you have a passion for, you can honestly and freely leave the domain of those expectations and attend auditions at every moment you're not working your survival job. If you decide you're still curious to learn in the format of school, especially in the field of acting, you might try your hand at Tisch; see where the curriculum and social network bring you. If you decide on some combination of the above, have spent six months or a year auditioning for projects that pique your interest but truly don't have the diverse role you want to play as an Asian American man, you might resolve to create your own work and assemble all the moving parts to bring it to life. That's more or less what happened with me.
Regardless of what happens, know that you won't starve because your mind and body have built-in instinct to keep that from happening--so you can sleep knowing that you have always had and will always have the independence to feel and do what means most to you, should the scenario arise that you lose financial and moral support from your family (which is never permanent; love needs distance to grow)--and, just as importantly, that you will only ever have dignity and happiness if you apply yourself as your heart (not your head) nags and surround yourself with people who feel the same way, love your work, and express that it inspires them to do the same.
Sorry for the diarrhea! I hope that's helpful.
Happy New Year and brightest wishes for your exciting endeavors ahead.
c h r i s