Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Sure! My name is Kenny Wong and I’m a Montreal-based actor/violinist, having grown up in Vancouver, B.C. I also spend a lot of time writing, filmmaking and singing out-of-my-range songs from musical theatre classics.
How did you get into acting?
When I was in high school, I was very involved in the school’s drama department. I wanted to continue acting, but I didn’t feel I was very good so I made the decision to pursue music in university. However, my love for acting didn’t dissipate so while intensively studying for my Bachelor’s, I decided to dip into acting classes to learn more about the art form. The rest is history.
You’re also a violinist with a Bachelor’s in Music from McGill. Did you expect to make a career in music?
I did! I knew since I was six-years-old that I wanted to play the violin professionally. I get asked often if my parents were the ones who made me learn the instrument. They didn’t. I actually asked them if I could after I attended a violin recital. They were like “Sure… We’ll give you a year.” I kept at it, and over a decade later, I got accepted into a great music school to pursue my Bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, while I was there, I was diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia (a neurological movement disorder forcing the muscles of one’s hand to contract), and thought that I needed to pursue another career. Things have improved a lot since then, so I’m proud to say that I’m currently working in both fields — acting and music.
Your role in Dystonia is based on your real-life experiences at McGill. What can you tell us about that and how you brought it to film?
It was during my second year of university and I was preparing for a performance exam… practicing six-eight hours a day when my left hand started feeling a bit stiff. I didn’t think anything of it until during a lesson, my violin teacher pointed out that my ring finger and pinky were contracting under the instrument while I was playing. I tried fixing it, but I couldn’t. I tried again and again, and then… I started missing notes. I broke down crying. I thought this was going to be the end of my violin career, something I’ve worked over a decade towards. I went to hospitals and took treatment, but it completely paralyzed my finger for a month and a half. I lost a lot of hope that day, but I had a lot of support from my peers, coaches, and family, which helped me get through it.
Seven years later, after watching ‘Whiplash’ (a music-based film by Damien Chazelle), I began jotting down everything I remembered about what I went through — the personal chaos, how it affected my relationships with teachers, my quartet, and my girlfriend at the time… my time at the hospitals. It all came together to become one big feature film script. Years after working on it, I teamed up with some amazing people who wanted to help me tell a short version of the story, and that’s what people will be seeing at the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival on November 15th, 2019.
What can audiences expect from the first season of CTV’s “The Transplant” and what can you tell us about your role on the show?
Audiences will see a really beautiful story being told about an ER doctor who fled his native Syria to come to Canada, having to overcome numerous obstacles to resume his career in emergency medicine. We have a great cast (if I may say so myself), some really thrilling trauma scenes as well as stunning music and cinematography. I recur as Arnold, a fresh-out-of-school nurse working in the best trauma hospital in the country. He’s enthusiastic, awkward, hardworking… kind of like me!
You have a guest-star role on season 3 of “Frankie Drake Mysteries”. How do you approach this type of role versus a regular role?
I had auditioned for my role as Li Chang with a Cantonese accent. When I was preparing for the shoot, I was practicing it quite intensely so that it would feel natural and so that I wouldn’t accidentally slip out of it on the day. I’d say that was my only extra work versus on a regular role where I also read the full script multiple times, figured out who I was and my relationships, memorize lines… Funny enough, on set, I was told to get rid of the accent after rehearsal, so it took me a take or two to get out of that mindset.
Do you plan on continuing acting and working behind the scenes or do you have a preference?
I plan on continuing both for sure. I love playing different characters, but I also love working on my own projects, whether writing or directing. I get lost in it — the world I’m trying to create and the characters in it. I find being able to tell your own stories is the biggest accomplishment you can have as an actor.
What’s next for your career?
We’re currently working on the last set of episodes for Season one of Transplant, and then it’s back to the creation board for me. Working on a sitcom pilot, as well as outlining the story of a new feature. Hopefully, those will come to fruition in the near future!
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
Train, train, train. Always be in tip-top shape. Never be waiting for your next call, it will come. And CREATE. Make your own films, put on your own plays. I find when you know every aspect of filmmaking and stage, you are a much more well-rounded actor. Also, you get to tell your own stories and you won’t be thinking about your next call.
What’s your life like outside of the film world?
First word that comes to mind is eager. Eager for the next project. Eager to finish my own scripts. Eager to create something. Eager to get better as an actor, a musician and as a person. Just eager.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
They can follow me on instagram @kennycwong as well as @dystoniafilm where we will be posting more updates about ‘Dystonia’!