Interview with Tina Hugan from "Rizzoli & Isles" on TNT - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Tina Huang, photo by Vince Trupsin

Interview with Tina Huang of "Rizzoli & Isles" on TNT 6/2/15

This was so much fun! We got off on a couple of gabby tangents. Ms. Huang is a very nice lady with so much passion for her craft and for her fans.  She plays a goofy scientist on "Rizzoli & Isles", and a serious doctor on "General Hospital."  She's getting over a cold, so I hope you can hear it well. Don't miss the show, which is always good. It returns June 16th for season 6!

Here is the audio of our interview. I hope you enjoy it!

If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!

Here's the transcript from Gisele.

Susie Chang, photo from TNT's website

1. The 6th season is starting soon. Are you excited?

Yes, very excited! What I love about it is that it's a cop show with a certain amount of tongue and cheek, but it also has so many strong female characters which I deeply, deeply, deeply appreciate. It's a rare thing, you know?

2. Do we see a lot more of Susie in this upcoming season?

I can't really talk that much about what happens to Susie in the upcoming season, but I think it's going to be really exciting. There will be a major plot development.

3.  Do we learn more about her, like her family etc.?

You do learn more about her for sure.

4. Any chance we get a more Susie-centric episode?

Yes, there's a big chance of that. I'm sorry to be so cryptic. You've got to leave some mystery out there, right?

5. Anything you can tell us about the upcoming season?

There is a Susie-centric episode, and there is a major development. I think the fans are going to -- Twitter might explode, I'm not sure. [Chuckles] I can't say that there'll be more dioramas in this season. They were really detailed and to scale and really gorgeous. It's based on this real woman who basically started the crime-scene investigation that way. In around 1908, she started making crime-scene dioramas, and the police actually started using them to study crime scenes, so it's based on a real thing.

6. Is it a fun place to work?

Oh, my gosh, it's so fun! It's really like a well-oiled machine, like a family. The crew is just so incredible. The writers are fantastic. Jan Nash, the showrunner is lovely and easy to work with, and the cast -- we're always joking around, having fun, and having a laugh, so it's such a great place to be. I like Jordan. Jordan is awesome to work with. He's such a cool guy. So fun and so giving. They all are. The whole cast is so incredible.

7. Do you enjoy playing a scientist?

I love it. I love it. My husband's a scientist in real life. He works in microbiology and immunology, infectious disease, at UCLA. He always tells me what I'm doing wrong as a scientist, but it is fun, because being Asian and being an actor kind of gave my parents a little bit of fulfillment that I at least pretend to be a scientist or a doctor on TV. Scientists are a very interesting group of people, I gotta tell you. I was at a Halloween costume party at the zoo in LA, and I met this woman who recognized me from the show, and it turns out she's a medical examiner, so she invited me down to the LA County Forensics Lab. She gave me this whole tour, and I really thought all these TV shows made the labs look fancier than they are, 'cause I've seen so many labs before, and there's not a lot of money there. They need funding, they're rundown, and not nearly as cool as you'd think they'd be. When I went to the Forensics lab, it was actually really slick and cool and a lot like you'd see it on TV. And it was huge. Like one floor would be Ballistics and she showed me this room where there's a water tank they'd fire guns into so they could match the markings on the shell casing and bring them over to the double microscopes and be able to compare the two bullets and see if they have the same markings. They had a massive gun library where they can roll through these actual guns from history and match up the manufacturers, the serial numbers, and all that kind of stuff. It's just very, very cool. They have a whole DNA lab and screens everywhere. It was just very cool.

8. I guess you and other TV scientists are inspiring young girls to become scientists as well.

I've actually heard that before, and that's a lovely thing. It's a lovely byproduct. I think it's important for people to see images like themselves out there that they can aspire to be some day. I mean, just like, not to be political, but seeing Barack Obama become president has changed people's perceptions of who can become president, so I'm not saying -- I don't compare myself to being the president of the United States, but I get what you're saying. Yeah, for sure! I'm passionate in helping some community organizations, as well, so if that happens to be a side effect of it, I hope I can do more real things in the community and encourage people to pursue things they couldn't usually pursue. I mean, I didn't think I could become an actress growing up in an Asian household, 'cause I didn't have a lot of role models, but that drive was still within me, and I had amazing mentors and teachers who encouraged me to follow those dreams and go to school and get trained and all that, and I'm lucky enough today to be working as an actor, working hard for it.

9. You used to live in Chinatown in New York City when you were a kid, right?

I sure did. I grew up there, in the Lower East Side. There is progress being made. There are people who are trying to put art out there that's inclusive and not exclusive, which is pretty exciting. I'm one of the founding members of Ammunition Theatre Company here in Los Angeles and we just launched this past Saturday. It's made up of really dynamic artists and activists in our community, and we are a very diverse group, but we don't want to impress upon people that it's because we're diverse that we're doing it. It's because we want to be a part of a community and create art that's inclusive of the America that we know and have experienced. It's a very cool endeavor. It's exciting. Part of the theater company is working with a nonprofit called My Friend's Place that helps provide services to homeless youth in Los Angeles. It's really, really amazing. Our theater company are members, and we donate our time to volunteer and run workshops with the kids, and that's really rewarding. We're gonna do a play reading with them, for them, and help raise some funds for them. It's really, really exciting, so art, theater, television all plays together. A bunch of members from our company are also on TV and care about building a healthy community.

10.  I see that you were in some one-act plays May 30. How was it? Will there be more?

That was our launching event, but we might produce a night again with the same plays. We'll definitely be doing a full season later in the fall. We have to get submissions of plays from new playwrights, which is always exciting. And a diverse group of directors as well, male, female.

11. You worked with Karla Mosley, who's on "Bold & The Beautiful" playing a transgender character. How was it to work with her?

Yes, it's pretty cool. She's so wildly talented. She was just wonderful in the one-act plays this weekend, and she's also spearheading the relationship with My Friend's Place, so she's a dynamic person and actress and activist.

12. Are you still playing Dr. Chu on GH? When is the last time you appeared?

As far as I know. I haven't been on for a couple of months, I think. I can't remember exactly when. It all blends together, all the shootings, the scheduling. I think the last time was when I saved Lulu's baby or fixed Lulu's reproductive organs.

13. Did you get to participate or watch during the Nurse's Ball?

No, I wasn't. As soon as someone has a complication with their baby, hopefully, well, not hopefully. That's when Dr. Chu will probably come back.

14.  Is there a big difference between working on the two shows?

Oh, yeah, they're wildly different mediums. A lot of work goes into both of them. It takes a lot of people to accomplish what they do. I think Rizzoli shoots maybe four scenes a day. The nights can be long. We have two cameras going, and then there all these reverse angles. I mean, it's shot more like a film. Whereas a soap opera like "General Hospital" can be maybe 50 items, they call them items, scenes a day. And there are maybe 3 or 4 cameras going at once. They like switch cameras and edit it live there. They maybe get one or two takes, 'cause they have to move on. So, it's a very different muscle, and I've seen veteran soap actors, and it's so impressive. I mean, sometimes they get big chunks of dialogue last minute, and they have to make it work. They have to know it, and they have to be able to hit their marks, which is extremely technical, and that is a skill set that not everyone has. It's a lot of work, but it's also really rewarding. I noticed when I was working on "Hollywood Heights" and "General Hospital" is that everyone has a normal life. Everyone has a family. They go to work, and they leave at a certain time, because it's so well-oiled, they can have their outside lives and that sense of stability. It's great. I'm just so interested in any kind of storytelling -- movies, or one-hour drama, or half-hour comedy or live stage stuff, sketch -- I love it all.

15. You knew you wanted to be an actress when you were really young? You had no desire to be a scientist or doctor?

I did. I grew up in a pretty traditional household, and I know it all came from how much they loved me and worries about me, but they discouraged the art. I'm first generation, so they immigrated here, and they wanted me to have a better life than they had, so they wanted me to do something in science or in law or medicine or they weirdly wanted me to become a pharmacist, but I just always felt like I wanted to be an actor. I got in to all the science schools, but I secretly auditioned for LaGuardia School for the Performing Arts with a painting portfolio, photography and drawing, 'cause I had an art teacher who really believed in my artistic sensibility, and I always thank her for that. I got into LaGuardia for fine arts, but I always, always wanted to be an actor. I just was super shy. Growing up in New York, I felt like every kid who wanted to be an actor started when they were like 4-years-old, so I thought I was over-the-hill at like 13. But I kind of got the nerve, and prepared a monologue and auditioned and got in and decided to transfer to the drama department. My parents weren't too excited about it, but I then got into NYU, and I did all these interviews by myself, and I think they started to get it when they started seeing me on TV. My mom still can't pronounce "Rizzoli & Isles." She calls it "Gilligan's Island" forever. Yeah, she's cute.

16. Any other projects that you're working on or have coming out?

I just did an episode of NBC's "The Night Shift," which just aired. It was the season finale. I'm playing Topher's wife, Janet, which is a really fun thing. I got to work with Eric LaSalle who directed it. It was super fun, a super great time shooting in Albuquerque. Hopefully, fingers crossed, I'll get to go back next season. Oh, I'm going to Edinburgh to do a show called "Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 and Over." This really fun show. It's fairy tales for adults with morals like the codependent Eskimo and the bipolar bear, and when are you too old to buy IKEA furniture, and that kind of stuff. We actually got invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so we're going there all of August to perform for 25 days, which is pretty exciting. It's the world's biggest art festival, so exciting.

17. Anything else you'd like to tell your fans?

Well, they know I love them. I think it's important that people learn more about Parkinson's research. There's a desperate need for that, and also support live theater and I don't know, I love my loyal fans. They're awesome. And watch "Rizzoli & Isles." Thank you.

Check out my review for "Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Fifth Season"

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