Sarah Chang Interview

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What age did you start wushu?

I started wushu at the age of seven with my older sister Cheryl and cousin Laura.

Sarah Chang with her cousin, Laura Wiens, and her sister, Cheryl Chang, training in my cousins backyard.

Why did you choose wushu to train?

Due to my dad’s love of Wuxia novels, he urged us to train wushu and made us stick to it for several years, at least long enough for us to understand what we were getting into.  I don’t think he had any idea that it would ultimately grow into a major passion and create a career path in my life.

Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids.

What are your favorite weapons or events to perform in wushu?

My favorite weapon is the spear.  Learning the spear was a major turning point in my wushu journey, it sparked my passion for wushu.  It changed my perspective of going to wushu as a chore into something I grew to enjoy.  My other favorite weapon is the straight sword. Whenever I perform, the weapon feels like an extension of my own body.

Photographer: Michael Geier

How did you train for USA Team Trials?

I would usually train about 3 hours a day about 6 times a week.  In the beginning stages, I would tweak my form and practice certain specialty combos that I wanted to aim for.  Then after that was set, I would move to drill sections and whole forms.  In terms of conditioning, it was more doing several full sets in one training session to boost up my stamina.  Closer to competition, I would do a lot of visualization of the forms and boost my mental stamina for the competition.

World Wushu Championships

What college or additional education did you attend?

I went to the University of Toronto and graduated with a Materials Science Specialist Degree.  Later when I changed careers I studied at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing.

USA Team Trials

What inspired you to get into stunts and acting?

I was discouraged after working in various sales and marketing jobs for several years after graduation and I quit everything and went back to competing for wushu. An action director friend of mine, Michael Tan asked me to help out in a music video project and I had a lot of fun doing it.  After that, he introduced me to Jimmy Hung’s action team in Taipei and everything just fell into place from there.

 The set of “The Teacher” acting alongside Kevin Lee.

What are your favorite films you worked on?

So far, I’d say “Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” because it was such a new and exciting experience for my first feature film in the Philippines.  For 3 months, I was immersed in Filipino martial arts training with a group of friendly, hilarious, and highly knowledgeable martial artists.  Also, I loved filming on the beach.  During the downtime, the crew would catch fish and barbecue them on the beach and we would have these amazing budofests.  What a great time we had!

Photographer: Craig Ferguson

What kind of training do you do to keep up in shape for stunts?

As an actress who likes to do her stunts, I understand the rigors of stunt training, it depends on what the role calls for.  In general, I do more MMA training, such as Muay Thai, BJJ, and of course a bit of Wushu, much less intense than competition training.  I also train a few action combos, that could be my “signature moves” in a role as well as accuracy, which consists of kicking(rather pointing my foot at) random objects in the house. Then there’s wirework training where we perform aerial moves while suspended on wires.

The Trigonal: Fight for Justice with Leigh Guda and Jenny Deocampo.

What is your strength and conditioning plan for stunts?

For strength and conditioning, I usually stick to HIIT cardio workout just to stay in shape.  I also complement that with simple bodyweight workouts that can be done at home or in the park.  Depends on if I’m in Taipei or Manila.

Photographer: Craig Ferguson

What is your nutritional plan you use for training?

Back when I was competing for wushu, I didn’t have a set nutritional plan.  I distinctly remember our weekly wushu family Italian dinner at “Santorini’s” after class on Fridays.  More recently, I try to keep my diet relatively balanced with a lot of fruits and vegetables.  But, I don’t dwell on cutting calories or limiting meals because I’m a breastfeeding mother.

Photographer: Michael Geier

How would you describe working on set with cast and crew?

Each set is different, but for each set, it’s a huge group effort.  I love the experience of gathering everyone together to do a film together and forming strong bonds with the people you work with. Especially in the high stress, fast-paced setting you learn a lot more about the people around you than you normally would.  As an actor, being on the set is kind of like finding the balance of getting into your headspace for the scene and dealing with the various departments that come up to you.  Being able to jump in and out of the scene while still being able to be a person to the director, wardrobe, hair, and makeup, cam team, stunts, etc.

Photographer: Michael Geier

What are the goals you are developing in your career?

The goals that I’m developing in my acting and producing career are to be the next Michelle Yeoh, who is, of course, irreplaceable.  Secondly, I’d like to push boundaries as an Asian American actress.  Last, I’d like to create a bridge between Hollywood and Taiwan/Philippine productions.

Photographer: Michael Geier

Connect with Sarah Chang!

Justine is a National USA Wushu Taolu Judge and was on the 2017 U.S.A. Traditional Wushu Team. Justine works full time as a Systems Analyst. With her extra time, Justine currently travels to domestic and international wushu tournaments.