During an interview with Variety back in June, multi-hyphenated media mogul Tyra Banks revealed she was on a search for a “hot male Asian actor” to star in the sequel to the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2000 Disney Channel original film Life Size, in which she played Lindsay Lohan’s doll that comes to life.
— Variety (@Variety) June 6, 2018
Banks was inspired by her America’s Next Top Model partner, Ken Mok, who is Chinese, to buck the stereotype of the Asian male being asexual or unsexy.
Well, the model judge knows sexy when she sees it, and now we get to fawn over hottie Hank Chen.
“I mostly thought of myself as just cute,” Chen tells NewNowNext. “But if the legendary Tyra Banks wants to call me ‘hot,’ I will not complain.”
Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. by Taiwanese immigrants, the openly gay actor says he often looked to Banks and other stars of color for diverse stories on the screen. He hopes as Hollywood continues to tell more diverse stories to be a face for the Asian and LGBTQ community.
“I want to be the entertainer little Hank needed,” he says. “I hope my contributions to the entertainment industry will help anyone, particularly young Asians and young gay kids, feel less alone.”
Chen, who has also starred in Transparent and Scandal, and made his film debut in Robin William’s last theatrical release, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, is also optimistic Hollywood—and the world—is ready for more diverse, nuanced stories centering Asians and queer people with the success of films like Crazy Rich Asians, Love, Simon, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
“The tides are turning,” says the 29-year-old. “I am optimistic there soon won’t be a justification needed for an Asian person or a gay person in a script. They won’t have to have some sort of trauma—unless it serves the purpose of the movie—we can just be allowed to be ordinary people, too.”
In the Hollywood-themed sequel, Grace (Francia Raisa) is a mess in the middle of a quarter-life crisis in over her head as the CEO of a toy company. With the help of her young neighbor, Grace’s old doll, Eve (Tyra Banks) magically awakens to help her get back on track. Chen plays Grace’s executive assistant and long-time BFF who tries to help keep her hot mess in check.
Life Size 2 premiered on December 2, but hopefully like the first one, it’ll also air almost weekly to garner a cult following as well.