Jimmy Wong has earned success the hard way. The star of Sony Pictures Animation’s new film, Wish Dragon , Wong has climbed the ladder of success from the very bottom. After graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont, US, where he majored in theatre and drama, Wong headed for Hollywood with a dream to one day see himself on the silver screen. In 2011 he had a viral hit with his YouTube video Ching Chong! Asians in the Library Song , a response to a UCLA student’s rant about Asian students using mobile phones in the university library. From there, Wong impressed in a number of small roles in big productions like The Circle and John Dies at the End, as well as web series like Video Game High School . The hustle eventually paid off when he landed a part in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan. 4 celebrity first-time mums in their 50s That readied Wong for his biggest part to date, that of Din, the everyday hero of Netlfix’s animated Wish Dragon , a film that riffs on the classic Aladdin folk tale, setting the action in modern Shanghai and swapping a magical lamp for a tea pot, and the genie for a wish-granting dragon. I think we’ve been in a downward spiral of awareness and the Asian attacks are just the latest [stage] … things have felt almost apocalyptic at times regarding the discourse, the intelligence level and the ability to have rational and reasonable discussions Jimmy Wong Wong talks to STYLE about the film, growing up with Jackie Chan movies, and his feelings on the anti-Asian sentiment in the US at present. What was it like working on this project? What were the highs and lows? This was the first time I’ve done a voice-over project to this degree. One of the highs was having a new experience as an actor – and one that was pretty challenging because normally you have people to react off of, or you’re in a costume and you’re feeling the environment. But when it comes to voice acting you’re just in the room saying the same line 12 times in a row to try and get a very specific read-out in a room with just an animatic or a black and white drawing for company. Does that mean you didn’t have any in-person interaction with your English-language co-stars Constance Wu or John Cho? I did have one day with John and that was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had working. It’s pretty magical when you can record together. In the same way as when you have a conversation with someone, there’s a lot more natural interplay. You can tell when someone is about to finish a sentence, you can feel their energy as they take the scene in a different direction. It feels much more alive, even though on a film like this you can’t tell who was in the same room or not since the animation speaks much more for the characters than the actual actors do, if that makes sense. Mainland Chinese stars who made it big in Hong Kong: from Jet Li to Donnie Yen No run-ins with the likes of Jackie Chan either then? I wish! Jackie’s company was involved in a broader, top-down production way. That guy, I’ve idolised him since I was a very young child. You can feel his influence in the film because there are a couple of action scenes where my character gets into physical altercations and fights with gongfu . It’s really fun to watch because you feel the influence of Jackie’s choreography and his imagination and how he takes a fight scene to another level. While I didn’t get to see him or meet him in person I definitely know he had a touch on the final product. Which Hong Kong celebrity couple had the most expensive wedding? Do you have a favourite Jackie Chan film? When I was younger the first big Jackie film I watched growing up in America is Operation Condor . But the one I like most is the second Drunken Master film. It’s just incredible. He does some stunts in that one and I genuinely don’t know how a human can sustain that much self-damage in the middle of choreography and keep going at that level. It’s safe to say this is your biggest role to date – have you felt a lot of pressure being the lead on this project? I think a lot of the pressure is taken off because it’s not my face, it’s just my voice. And I know for a fact that most people who watch this film will have no idea who I am and will never know. If you ask me who voiced Aladdin or who voiced Simba, I don’t really know – sorry to those voice actors! I like the fact that the animation speaks for itself more so than the visage of the actor behind it. You don’t get distracted staring at Brad Pitt the whole time because he’s so hot. You get to focus on the characters and the story. To me that’s something significant and something to be grateful for. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt at 15: from her dramatic 2021 makeover to her sisterly bond with Zahara and potential dance ambitions What are your thoughts about Mulan ? Rightly or wrongly, the film came in for a lot of flak, but what was your experience with that project? I spend a lot of time on the internet, so I wasn’t too fazed by the backlash. It’s a Disney film, they’re the biggest entertainment company in the world. Anything you do that has them involved will get people talking and when you have that many people talking the conversation is going to span the entire spectrum. For me, I was happier to separate myself from that and just enjoy the amazing experience. Trumps in the dumps: Donald deletes his ridiculed blog and Donald Jr. sells US$500 videos on Cameo Obviously you first gained some fame with your Asians in the Library Song , what are your feelings about the current wave of anti-Asian sentiment in the US? I think at the end of the day, people need to travel more and visit new places and we have to expand people’s horizons and show them different things. And teach them by example, by giving them entertainment that opens their minds and eyes to something else. Marvel does an amazing job of that. Wish Dragon does show a part of China that people don’t see every single day. And it’s accurate and an amazing representation of that culture. If you’re getting angry at Asians because you associate them with a virus, that’s looking at a bottle of spilled milk and instead of cleaning it up, just screaming about who’s to blame for it. The scapegoating that’s happening is not healthy. Some Asian Americans are even carrying things like pepper spray when they go out because they’re worried something could happen. Do you behave any differently now or worry for your safety? I think I’m really lucky. I live in Southern California, which is something of a safe haven for Asians. I do feel for my parents who live in a large city that’s not as diverse and filled with Asians as South California. Who is Crystal Kung Minkoff, the first Asian-American cast member of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? But I haven’t changed my behaviour because I almost don’t want to and I don’t want to admit that I might need to. And at the same time, the way I change my behaviour is by avoiding things that might have a slightly chance of risk associated with it because I don’t want to find myself in a position where I’d need to worry. So it doesn’t feel great. But I do worry much more for my friends in New York or San Francisco who tell me, “This happened today”, or, “This is what my friend just told me.” How do you think things will change? And when do you think things will take a turn for the better? I don’t know if things will take a turn for the better, honestly. This could be me being a pessimist, but given we had an open insurrection in this country and people are covering it up … I don’t know if we’re at the point where things will begin improving. I think we’ve been in a downward spiral of awareness and the Asian attacks are just the latest in the history of the past four or five years where things have felt almost apocalyptic at times regarding the discourse, the intelligence level and the ability to have rational and reasonable discussions with other people. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ net worths, ranked: Which cast member has the most millions to play with? The only thing I have real faith in right now is my field – making content and entertainment. Because anyone can watch a film and enjoy it. It doesn’t need to be a news network or a Twitter account you don’t follow. And some incredibly beautiful messages have been sent through movies, TV and animated mediums, and I hope to keep contributing to that world as much as possible and making stuff that matters. And when I am able to focus on something like that, it gives me a little more peace of mind because I don’t need to focus on the things I can’t fix. I can focus on where I can lead by example and what I can do. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .