New York actor swaps bright lights for rural Norfolk village
- Credit: Emma Mead
An actor has spoken about his "shock to the system" after recently moving back to Norfolk from New York.
HanJie Chow, 31, is currently living in South Raynham, near Fakenham, having returned from New York where he worked as a multidisciplinary theatre artist.
Prior to lockdown, he had notable credits under his belt as the Costume Shop associate for the Off-Broadway production of Sing Street (nominated for several awards Lucille Lortel Award, Drama League Awards and Off-Broadway Alliance Awards).
Mr Chow was also wardrobe supervisor for Underground Railroad Game - which won the Scotsman Fringe First and The Stage Edinburgh Awards, and was named by the New York Times as one of the top 25 best American Plays in the last 25 years.
He is also credited as the production photographer for the acclaimed musical KPOP, which won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. And he was recently the lead voice actor, voicing multiple characters in an audio drama of Lady Lucy, based on the Dark Lady sonnets by Shakespeare.
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Mr Chow has previously worked with the likes of Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo for the 2016 New York staging of Othello.
Mr Chow said: "As I was new at that time you do think 'oh my, it's James Bond', but on the other hand you have to think 'I am here to work and that's my main priority."
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Through working for the New York Theatre Workshop, he has been able to firmly establish and create space for himself within the highly competitive industry.
Mr Chow also has close ties with an off-Broadway institution called Ars Nova - the artistic birthplace of Hamilton creator, Lin Manuel Miranda
But he moved back to Norfolk in early July as New York went into lockdown, and has continued to stay active by being part of online theatre festivals on both sides of the pond.
He described moving during the pandemic as a stressful experience which was compounded with the pressures of navigating a hard hit industry.
Mr Chow said: "As someone who prior to the lockdown was working seven days a week with these professionals, to then having to navigate this new and unknown landscape has been jarring and a shock to the system."
Having moved to the UK from Singapore at the age of 10, Mr Chow attended Fakenham College.
After graduating in French with Psychology at Bangor University, he then went on to pursue a career in the arts in New York City.
Mr Chow said: "After six months I fell in love with the city and could not leave. I thought instead of training in London, why not just train here instead. Training in New York as an Asian actor afforded me far more exposure than in the UK to tell the truth.
"New York has this sort of magnetism as a city and being there motivated me. As an Asian actor, the issues of race and identity have been very prevalent in American society and that is reflected very much in the theatre, and it's what I want to use my voice for."
He added that there has been a push for changes to be made within the industry following the Black Lives Matter protests.