Sponsored link
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Sponsored link
Arts + Culture Movies Oakland's Jun Yu represents in 'Mulan'

Oakland’s Jun Yu represents in ‘Mulan’

The young actor, playing Cricket in the live-action version of the beloved film, breaks out on the big (and small) screen.


Jun Yu told 48 Hills that he clearly relates to Cricket, the comrade and confidant of the title character he plays in Disney’s Mulan (out now on Disney+ and in select theaters).

“Cricket is an earnest boy who just wants to fit in with the guys,” says the Oakland-born actor, best known to audiences as Pete on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat. “When I was little, I was very much like Cricket, always looking for a place to fit in.”

Fitting in is just as critical to Mulan (Yifei Liu), the gender-bending warrior hero in Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 animated film of the same name, who, taking the place of her ailing father, masquerades as a man in order to enlist in the Imperial Army to help defend China from the encroaching Huns. 

It remains a battle for Asians and Asian Americans to attain more visibility on television and the silver screen. A number of actors—including Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Charles Melton, Constance Wu (Yu’s Fresh Off the Boat costar)—and, of course, Yu, himself, are slowly but surely pushing for more screentime. 

I spoke to the Bay Area-reared actor, who now lives in LA, about landing his debut film role in Mulan, fighting for equal representation onscreen, and what he misses most about Northern California.

48 HILLS How did you get the role in Mulan?

48 HILLS How did you get the role in Mulan?

JUN YU While studying, during my second year at the University of Southern California, my manager found me my first audition, which also happened to be Mulan. I worked on it every second of every day until the day of the audition and gave it my all.

48 HILLS How did you first come across the original Mulan animated feature and what appealed to you about it?

JUN YU I was born around the time Mulan was first released, and it was the first animated film that I had seen when I was young that had people who looked like me in it. 

48 HILLS Other than the live-action component, what makes the new movie different from the animated one?

JUN YU A lot of things are different and a lot of things are the same, but this film has almost a different tone than the original. There is something in there for fans of the original animated film and the new fans, who have never heard of Mulan.

48 HILLS Talk to me about growing up in the Bay Area and how you first got into acting.

JUN YU I was blessed to have grown up in the Bay Area. It is a place rich with culture and beautiful people. I learned a lot about other cultures—and even my own. I first got into acting by spending my summers at various colleges learning the craft from those school’s professors. I attended both UC Berkeley and USC in Los Angeles as a high schooler. Later on, I got accepted into USC’s BFA acting program, and now I am here.

Photo by Brett Erickson

48 HILLS Describe your experience working on Fresh Off the Boat.

JUN YU It was spectacular. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. A lot of my work was with Hudson Yang (“Eddie”), who was a charming and bright kid. On the show, I played a character named Pete, who Eddie befriends on a school trip to Taiwan.

48 HILLS Is there enough Asian representation in Hollywood right now? Are things getting better for Asian and Asian-American actors?

JUN YU There is no such thing as enough representation for us Asian Americans, but things are slowly getting better.

48 HILLS A project like Mulan seems to be a step in the right direction.

JUN YU It is important in every way for both female and Asian representation. Every woman who worked on the film was an absolute powerhouse.

48 HILLS When did you move to LA, and what do you miss most about the Bay Area?

JUN YU I moved to LA in 2016 for college at USC. The one thing I miss the most about the Bay is that air! Bay Area air is the freshest. [Editor’s Note: maybe not at this exact moment, but comparably!]

48 HILLS How often do you come back to the Bay?

JUN YU I come back around four times a year to visit my beautiful mother.

48 HILLS I heard that you’re also a rapper with a debut EP in the works. Any music to share and how far do you think you’ll go with your hip-hop career?

JUN YU For now, it is nonexistent. I’m just having fun with my friends and speaking my truth into the mic. I don’t know how far it will go, but it heals my soul and breaks down my heart.

Mulan is out now on Disney+ and in select theaters.

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.
Sponsored link

More by this author

Oakland’s Jun Yu represents in ‘Mulan’

The young actor, playing Cricket in the live-action version of the beloved film, breaks out on the big (and small) screen.

The unstoppable ‘Who’s Your Mami Comedy’ Zooms your way

The pandemic may have indefinitely shuttered comedy clubs, but it can’t stop, won’t stop the irrepressible force of Marga Gomez. For as long as...

Too soon for COVID jokes? Shazia Mirza on Zoom comedy and life at home

Shazia Mirza has been making the most of quarantine. The award-winning British stand-up comedian and writer—best known for her show “The Kardashians Made Me...

All hail Jacki Weaver, Pride’s hilarious, touching ‘Stage Mother’

When Jacki Weaver was asked to star in director Thom Fitzgerald’s latest film, Stage Mother, the Academy Award-nominated Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook...

Generations of activism: Checking in with Cleve Jones

The LGBTQ community has already survived the tragic loss of Harvey Milk, the deaths of hundreds of thousands during the AIDS pandemic, and decades...
Sponsored link

Most read

The latest nasty — and inaccurate — attack on Chesa Boudin

No, the DA's Office did not release a burglary suspect who went on to attempt a rape.

The Agenda: The eviction tsunami begins

Local courts will start to hear cases Monday; tenant groups plan protest.

Now it’s the mayor attacking the supes

Breed tells business group that the progressive majority is against housing -- but the evidence shows otherwise.

RIP, the Notorious RBG

How one woman, one petite woman with a mighty intellect and a grit true to her Brooklyn roots, became not just a role model, but a revered symbol of the struggle for women’s equality.

Michelle E. Fillmore paints to connect—and manage pandemic emotions

The Oakland photorealist's work depicts mystery, transformation, and the identity crisis imposed by our moment.

The rich aren’t leaving SF — they own it

Developers cry crocodile tears to win political points -- but in the end, planners may have to admit they bungled the future of Soma.

The most important political story of 2020 that nearly every campaign is ignoring

The very rich stole $50 trillion from the rest of us in the past 45 years. Why aren't we all outraged?

From Herbie Hancock to Angela Davis: Monterey Jazz Fest comes to you

Moving online and back to its roots, the 63rd installment of the legendary fest focuses on history and support of Black community.

Screen Grabs: Keeping it together—and falling apart

Spotlight on mental health with Blackbird, Last Call, the Swerve, Rialto, and Oliver Sacks. Plus: The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Space Dogs

PUFF: How I got my high back

After months of isolation, it may be time to adjust your habits—with flower by Lolo, prerolls from Jack Herer, and some Kwik Ease
Sponsored link

You might also likeRELATED