From dancing with Beyoncé to starring in cult favorite Shadowhunters, there’s just something about Harry.
Nobody could have predicted how Harry Shum Jr. made it to Hollywood. He definitely didn’t take the typical path, and even when he tells it, his story sounds too kismet to be true. Born in Costa Rica to Chinese immigrant parents, the actor moved to San Francisco, then Grover Beach—“a town no one really knows”—when he was nine, and immediately began working at his parents’ Chinese restaurant. Growing up, he was learning English, struggling to make friends, and had trouble finding his footing—until he literally found it through dance. He moved to L.A. and scored a gig as a backup dancer for Beyoncé. Then came Glee and Shadowhunters. Then came Crazy Rich Asians. And here we are.
Fittingly for a dancer, a series of steps is the perfect way to describe his career. “My dad always taught me to take small steps. And I’m okay with that, because I want longevity with this. I don’t want to just be burnt out in the beginning,” Shum explains as we sit down following a full morning of shooting his best moves for ELLE.com.
When the now 36-year-old moved to L.A. on a whim fresh out of high school, he spent the first week dancing eight hours every single day, and immediately landed his first tour with dance DJ Cassy. Choreographer Jamal Sims, who worked on the Step Up movies, saw him in class and asked him to go on the road. “I probably would have done it for free if they didn’t say they were going to pay me,” Shum shrugs.
Then came the call that would change anyone’s life. “I was eating dinner and they were like, ‘We’re interested in you going on tour with Beyoncé.’ I just ran as quick as possible and auditioned in front of Beyoncé to make sure she approved, which she did. It was crazy.” He still remembers the entire choreography to “Naughty Girl” and “Baby Boy.” “They just sit in my brain. The songs you love, they’re just in you forever.”
Read the whole article/interview here [Read it, it’s really good ;)]