This past week, FYIG had the chance to chat with actress Eileen Li about her roles on Shadowhunters and Jack Ryan and a whole lot more! Check it out here!

I understand that you’ve always been artistic and were originally interested in visual arts and music. What did you originally see yourself doing before acting?

Initially, I wanted to be a painter as a kid. I remember my mother asking me how I would make money off of being a painter. I told her obviously it would be from the paintings that I sold. She had a good laugh. I also really wanted to be a paleontologist at one point. I was going through a rock phase so the idea of finding fossils was really exciting to me. 

You started attending the University of Waterloo for a degree in Kinesiology. How did you end up with an acting degree instead?

I caught the acting bug in high school so I had dreams of becoming an actor back then. But when the time came to apply to university my parents were less than thrilled at the idea of me applying to a performing arts school. Even less so at the idea of me becoming an actor. So I went the academic route. I did it for about a year, and it was during my first co-op term that I realized I was not where I wanted to be. I wanted more in life so I decided to follow my gut. I transferred programs and here we are.

Your acting career began with roles in theater productions like Tough, Souvenirs of Home, and Offensive Fouls. What did you learn from those experiences?

There is something about a live theater experience that just can’t be replicated in Film and TV. You can feel the audience’s energy, their laughter, their tears, and their silence. Everything is live and there are no second takes. It’s both exciting and terrifying. To be able to act in both mediums and to do it well is the sign of a great actor, in my opinion.

You played the role of Aline Penhallow on Shadowhunters. How was your experience working on that show?

My experience on the show was great! They have a stellar team! The wardrobe and hair and makeup departments made me look like a total badass. I had a blast on the show and the Shadowhunters fans are amazing!

In addition to the role on Shadowhunters, you also have a recurring role on Jack Ryan. What can you tell us about your character Noreen Yang?

The series basically follows Jack Ryan’s journey from being a CIA analyst to a field operator. Noreen is one Jack’s colleagues and helps with his missions throughout the season. She’s one of the younger analysts on the team and loves fantasy baseball.

I’ve read that you’re passionate about staying active and that you have become a certified yoga instructor. Talk about some of the benefits of doing yoga regularly and the impact it’s had on your life.

There are so many fantastic benefits to having a yoga practice. Not only are you practicing increasing your strength, stability, and flexibility, but there are meditative and spiritual benefits as well. Everyone has different reasons for practicing, but since I started practicing yoga, it opened the doors of meditation and mindfulness to my life. It has benefited me greatly with dealing with my anxieties, fears, and harder moments of life. At the VERY least you’re getting a great workout!

Eileen Li
Photo credit: John Bregar Photography

Staying active doesn’t just involve yoga though, you’re also training in Muay Thai and Choy Lee Fut. What prompted you to start training in those specific disciplines?

I had gone to a Karate camp one summer as a kid and loved it. We could never afford it so as an adult I wanted to try some style of martial arts. I also was looking for a new way to workout since I typically don’t like the gym. I started with Choy Lee Fut because I was interested in something that would also connect me to my roots. Choy lee Fut is a style of Kung Fu. It’s a really cool style and I was instantly hooked. I was introduced to Muay Thai a few years ago and just recently started to pick it up again. It’s a completely different style and the conditioning is really intense. I love the pad work. It’s so much fun. I’ve got a lot to learn in both styles, but I love the idea of learning a new skill and getting fit at the same time. I mean, who doesn’t want to learn to be badass and look good doing it?

Your next role is as Lara Yun in CBC’s 21 Thunder. What can we expect from your character in this show?

Lara’s the medical intern for the team. She finds herself in a bit of a bind at the beginning of the season. She’s a survivor and a total badass. Her storyline will take the audience on a wild ride outside of all the soccer drama.

I hear that you’re a big Sailor Moon fan. Who’s your favourite character?

Sailor Moon was definitely my favourite character. I had a massive crush on Tuxedo Mask so it only made sense for me to want to be her.

Is there any other anime series that people may not have heard of that you’d like to tell the readers about?

I’m currently waiting for season 2 of Attack on Titan to finish so I can binge it. Shokugenki is also another one I love. That one is about competitive cooking and food.

What’s the best restaurant you’ve been to in Toronto?

My local sushi joint, Mi-ne Sushi.

12) Let everyone know where to find you on the web.

You can check me out on Twitter or Instagram with the handle @theeileenli


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