#HowIMadeIt 2017

Andrea Bang, Actor

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Andrea has? Here's how she did it

Andrea Bang poses in an olive silk blouse against a grey wall Andrea Bang; Vancouver; @iAndreaBang

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

Parties can make me anxious, so I’d probably introduce myself, make eye contact for too long, then suggest we mosey ourselves over to the food and drinks table where I’d stuff my face senseless and awkwardly comment on how delicious the food is.

Before at parties, when people said, “So what do you do?” and I’d respond with “Oh you know, lots of stuff.” Now I’m learning to confidently say I’m an actor.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to the University of British Columbia and studied psychology.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

It was working at Hostelling International. I had just come back from backpacking Southeast Asia and I wanted to advocate for others to go backpacking too! I think everyone should do it at least once in their life.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

Kim’s Convenience! [Season two debuts September 26.] I totally lucked out with the part, but also with the cast and crew! Such a supportive and talented bunch.

I got the role by out-swimming a shark. Can you imagine?!

I actually got it through the regular audition process. It started with a self-tape and call-back. Then they flew me out to Toronto for a chemistry read (which is an audition with other actors to see how we mesh together) and I got to meet the whole cast and team behind the show. It was nerve-wracking and exciting. Just thinking about it makes my armpits sweaty. A week later my agent told me the good news.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

When Kim’s Convenience started airing on CBC. I had always heard, “Don’t believe it ’til you see it” because who knows, maybe they’ll cut me out or re-cast me as a talking bird—that’s my crazy brain at work. When it actually started airing and I wasn’t replaced by an animal, that’s when I knew, ‘It’s happening!’ For the longest time, I never felt like an actor. I don’t think people look at me and think, Yup, performer. Instead I’ve been told, ‘I never expected you to be an actor.’

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

It’s gotta be constantly dipping my toe in the water instead of cannonballing. I’ve always been interested in acting, so I’d take a class here, a class there—in secret. One day, I said f-ck it, if not now, then when?! I got an agent, flexible job(s) and started hunkering down with more classes and auditions.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Make stuff. Whether it’s gold or crap, just make stuff. There’s a lot of time spent waiting in this industry so flex those creative muscles and make the stuff you want to see or be in. Who cares if it never sees the light of day, just do it, because you never know what it might lead to.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Don’t do it.” That was from myself to myself. She can be a real dinkbag, that one.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Maybe more so as a woman of colour. Because of that, there are less roles and opportunities available. And within those roles, the characters can be stereotyped, which makes the pool even smaller. Growing up, I rarely saw someone like me on TV or film, so I didn’t think acting was an actual possibility. The barriers start early with that kind of underrepresentation. That’s also why I say “make stuff” — whatever it is. Not only can it be creatively satisfying, but it’s also one way barriers can be broken. Everyone has a story to tell.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I’m able to do this full-time so, yes! At one point, I had three jobs while auditioning: receptionist, office assistant and video maker. Now that I get to focus on film, I feel super-duper fortunate.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That we’re selfish and lack action. I’ve met people of all ages who are like that…

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