Moves like Harry
The sharp, playful looks of the season come to life through the infectious rhythm of star Harry Shum Jr.
Long before you knew him as the affable Mike Chang on Glee, Harry Shum Jr. was grooving on your television screen. Shum was one of the dancing silhouettes in the ubiquitous iPod commercials that introduced the iconic Apple device back in 2004. The commercial was a telling precursor to the career that would emerge: football-stud-turned-dancing vocaliston Glee; dancer who has been on tour with Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncè and T-Pain; tech connoisseur with Web series The LXD and Hulu series Caper and, most recently, the launch of his website, Tenth & Fourth. The multitalented star also boasts million-plus followers on Twitter. Costa Rica-born and California-raised, Shum is also hitting the big screen with a supporting role in Mom’s Night Out and a lead in the late-summer release of Revenge of the Green Dragons. He also found time to fall in love with Downtown Las Vegas. Rated sits down with Shum to talk about his connection to the city, his love of tech and his upcoming movies.
How did your interest in Las Vegas develop?
I was at a TED conference, and a gentleman named Tim Chang, from Mayfield Fund, was telling me about Downtown Project and Las Vegas [Downtown Project is a private urban revitalization enterprise, funded $350 million of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s personal money. Its objective is to spur the revitalization of Las Vegas’ city core, through a combination of real estate developments, investments in startup Web companies and investments in education and the arts.]. I’m not a big gambler – that was my perspective of Vegas since I was a kid. But this changed [when I learned] what [Downtown Project] was trying to do. I fell in love with it. I got to meet Tony, and we got to talking. It was like seeing something from the very beginning – a city that’s trying to build up its name, culture and community.
Tell us about CatalystCreativ and your involvement with Downtown Project?
CatalystCreativ gets people from all over the world to come and experience what Downtown Project is doing and take a tour of Zappos. You meet businesses that are a big part of the community and trying to uplift it. Everyone in the Project is so supportive of each other. I went to to speak to CatalystCreativ twice: The first time I brought my family, and the second time I brought a whole bunch of friends. I started recommending people who I think would be cool and [can] make an impact in the community.
You were part of the inaugural Life Is Beautiful festival. How did that come about?
I love music festivals, and I’ve been visiting parts of Downtown Project for the past two years. When Tony and my friend Amanda Slavin [CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ] said they were doing a music festival, I was like, “Oh, I’m in!” They asked me to speak at the Learning Is Beautiful portion, where you could gain knowledge or hear other people’s experiences. I told [my story] of what it was like growing up, [of being] a shy kid from another country coming into this whole big world. It was really cool to see a packed house and people coming in, wanting to hear someone talk about [their life] experinces.
You have a new website, and you’re an investor in the app Dumbstruck. How did you become involved with tech?
Before I became an actor, I loved trying new tech. If I found something I loved, I always wanted to share it with people. Over the years, I’ve developed a reputation among friends and castmates at the go-to guy for the latest in anything cool tech-related. It was just a hobby of mine. Dumbstruck is an awesome app that has the same concept as Snapchat but with a twist: Instead of someone responding by sending another picture back, someone can send a picture of something funny or something sentimental and it captures six seconds of your reaction to it. I also launched a website in April called Tenth & Fourth. There’s an audience out there that loves tech but doesn’t know the technical jargon. [In Tenth & Fourth,] I share stuff I think is cool and that benefits people. Technology should enhance your life and make life easier.
There’s a big tech community growing locally. Are any Las Vegans backing your projects?
I would love to do something with Tony, but there’s nothing concrete yet. Vegas is a big part of the future of tech, and that’s why I’ve been coming here to the waters and see what’s happening.
You have two movies coming out, Moms’ Night Out and Revenge of the Green Dragons. Give us previews.
Moms’ Night Out comes out Mother’s Day weekend. It’s really cool, because it’s gone from [being an] indie [film] to now getting a Sony wide release. It’s like a PG version of The Hangover, [but] with moms having the night out. I play this irresponsible young father who ends up losing his baby in a tattoo parlor. It’s a crazy night of adventures. It’s a really fun film, and stars Sean Astin, Sarah Drew and Patricia Heaton. In Revenge of the Green Dragon, I play a gang leader who causes havoc on (in?) New York City, which is very close to [the character I play] in Moms’ Night Out [laughs]. I don’t want to judge him, but he is very evil, which I’ve never played before. It’s based on a true story about immigrants who came to America in the 80s and they get into the wrong deal with gangs whose operations pollute the city with violence and corruption. It’s a very intense film, and Martin Scorsese executive-produced it.
Source: Vegas Rated [Scans]