HER HERO ACADEMIA: An Interview With Actress And Martial Artist Angela Jordan
Going forward, there will definitely be some significant changes in the atmosphere – albeit for the better. New partnerships and relationships will form and with that, new prospects to come in lieu of my own observations and coverage, and you can certainly tack on the name Angela Jordan to the list of folks adapting to the ever fluctuating atmosphere.
It was precisely on March 21, 2016 when this super-talented New Jersey resident landed on my radar, and it’s been a thrill covering her ever since. Eventually taken under the wing of Joey Min and Stephanie Pham for a time at Art School Dropouts, Jordan’s burgeoning resumé in the independent online film scene has grown immensely with her proliferation as a desired favorite.
The first of her next few appearances will be in the not-too-distant online premiere of the hotly-anticipated second episode of Power Rangers: Unworthy, from Deviant Children Productions and Kamen Ramen Studios. This also brings us to her big screen feature debut as Min prepares to present Yes, Auntie!, a sequel to his 2016 hit webseries, My Asian Auntie, produced and assembled with a raft of groups along the East coast specialized in screenfighting talent.
After nearly two years and two amazing nights together among indie film fellows familiarized with one another via the Urban Action Showcase, I finally get to share some profound, enthusiastic and heartfelt thoughts from someone who, in the eyes of many, is a rising star in her right. There are definitely some things I’m knowledgeable of with respect to context following my own private discussions with her, though it’s fair to say she’s itching to make 2019 a milestone year filled with targeted growth and deep, interpersonal improvements.
At any rate, she welcomes any and all to witness her journey at https://www.ajkick101.com as she shares her updates and insight with her fans, as well as her views, experiences and aspirations… and all while maintaining her dreams of action stardom.
Hey Angela, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for readers. How has the year been for you thusfar?
The year’s been pretty packed actually! Constant filming and planning really pushed the projects we completed. We managed to get a new camera, made new connections, and step up our quality game. I’m honestly surprised of the growth I’ve seen between myself and ASDO. I’m happy and grateful to have been a part of so many projects this year and excited to see what next year brings.
You’ve performed this year as an intergral member of Art School Dropouts up through last month and have also collaborated with other creatives as well. Tell us about your background and how you came into stunt performance and film?
I knew I wanted to be a badass like the heroes I saw on screen. I stuck to training and fell in love with all sorts of martial arts, until one day a parent at the school I taught at forwarded me a casting call asking for martial artists for a small indie project. I decided If I didn’t try now to go for a childhood dream, when was I ever. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then nor did I know about the realities of film production, so the first project I was a part of never went anywhere. I was disappointed by the outcome, but the project connected me to Andrew Kim (before he was known as Mr. Kamen Ramen)! He reached out after seeing the failed project and asked if I wanted to do a test fight that would erase any bad taste I had of indie filmmaking. We set a date, filmed at my martial arts school, and BAM! Andy didn’t lie when he said he’d make me forget about the other project! I didn’t realize I could look or move like that on screen.
Andy that same day introduced me to Joey Min of Art School Dropouts and Gee (before he joined forces with Andy) who I knew even way before doing YouTube! I did a couple more projects with Andy, Gee and Joey. Then, Joey asked if I could be part of some videos and the working relationship built from there as I slowly got introduced to the ASDO group. Next thing you know, I became “Intern” and began working behind the scenes and in front of the cam. More and more I learned and got better at screen fighting thanks to Joey’s direction and patience. He slowly introduced me to stunt work seeing that I had a knack for it, and then during our shoot for Forgotten Kingdom: A Kung Fu LARP Story, DL MacDonald taught me the basics for stunt falls during his stay and I started building my stunt base from there. I gained another skill set and started incorporating it in many of the film projects playing either as lead or an unnamed and masked bad guy.
I definitely noticed by some of your personal photos that you started out real early in taking up martial arts. What age was that, and was your inspiration behind this choice?
My mom put me in martial arts at 5 years old. As she would describe, I was a hurricane running around with a load of energy. I’ve always loved martial arts since I was little! Power Rangers and Jackie Chan Adventures were my favorite shows. While I’d be watching, I’d try to mimic the moves — hence why my mom thought it’d be a better idea to get some formal training rather than experimenting at home with the furniture or my baby sister.
What was the most fun project or adventure you recall having with ASDO? I reckon they were all fun, though is there one that sticks out to you the most?
Every project is always a fun project with the ASDO crew. It’s kind of hard not to when you’re working with close friends. The most recent project we worked on, Yes, Auntie! was by far the most undertaking project we’ve done, but the most fun! We brought on everyone we knew on the East Coast indie action team, and you know the saying, the more the merrier! We got to film at some cool places like the Showboat and Reading Pagoda. The best memories made were the ones that we all laughed at the silliness that happened on set, celebrations of good takes, and sighs of relief at the end of the day when we could rest for a bit before waking up and going again.
I really appreciated those moments Steph, Joey and I had knowing that while we were serious most of the time on set, we were satisfied with the work we know would pay off at the end.
Effectively, Yes, Auntie! will be your feature film debut, so I wonder what goes on in your mind in that sense?
Feature film debut — didn’t even think of it as that, I just thought collectively this was ASDO’s first major project, and I was lucky to have played a role in it. I felt I was a piece of a bigger picture. I didn’t think of it as anything big because I always think I could have done better or preformed better. Now, it’s turned into a big thing and the project came out better than we all expected. But thinking about it in that sense, the fact that my feature film debut is me as a formidable bad guy is crazy!
Never thought my first major role would be me cross dressing, but I think that’s cool! I get the chance to show people that I can perform just as well as the guys out there, and I don’t need to be type casted to play a sexy Asian assassin to show off my skills.
How did you guys go about designing your role in this film along with his fighting style? I ask because your character, Angelo, bears a striking resemblance to Nagisa in Korosensei, and I know anime definitely plays a role in some aspects of Joey’s creative
vision for certain projects.
Joey wanted the Angelo character to be a typical suave asian gang member. Angelo is Lester’s go-to assassin, so he has to look dressed up and skilled in combat. We knew we wanted Angelo dressed in pants, shirt and tie. I even learned how to do a triad knot for my tie as a subtle detail! After looking through thrift stores for the right clothing wear, we came up with the final character design. The short hair wig we got just so happened to give me that Anime look. While I don’t have a chiseled chin, I do happen to look like an “Asian F*** Boy,” which works for the Angelo character. He doesn’t have to say much when he’s at work because his skills speak for himself.
Is there a favorite anime series that you have?
My first anime was Naruto, so it will always be close to my heart. I grew up watching the.character from the original Naruto to the Shippuden series. His hard work, virtues, and heartfelt passion is what struck me. I still cry and get chills watching reruns of certain battles where he’s fighting for his friends. He shows people that no matter how much people doubted him, through hard work and determination he can overcome it all. DATTEBAYO!
What is it about Yes, Auntie! that you feel motivates fans so much considering that not only was there a second season ordered, but that fans have all but contributed to his $10 Thank-You campaign by so much?
It’s hard not to love Auntie and all the characters created in this series. Looking at it superficially, yes it’s a man playing a woman in drag — it’s clickbaity in that sense. However, Auntie always stood for light heartedness, strong virtues and love for family. She’s is a badass kung fu fighting woman who’s always protecting the people she cares most about. That, outside of the fantastic martial arts choreography, really draws in people. Looking past all the jokes, you have a strong woman with a strong heart willing to fight for what she loves. Auntie don’t need no man to teach her that!
Talk about your experience working with Joey in the course of his own growth at Art School Dropouts.
Working with Joey really changed my perspective on how I see myself and my potential. I have a lot to thank him for, and I haven’t been able to repay him back for a lot of the opportunities he’s given me. Joey’s always given his heart to what he believes in, even if nobody else believes in it. I think that’s what makes him such a strong and amazing person. Joey used to be very stubborn with a lot of changes Steph and I were trying to make for the benefit of ASDO, but while he might be stubborn at times, he always comes around admitting when he’s wrong and growing forward with the group. He himself admits he’s not perfect, but he’s always working towards improving little by little. He’s always had vision and a crazy sense of humor, but that’s what part of his charm. His crazy ideas always made being around him more fun — and reminded you what living
Joey always gave me tough love when it came to working, and sometimes it was REALLY tough to swallow, but it never changed how he cared for me or anyone that he’s work with or believed in. Because of that, Joey has been able to connect with so many people and inspire them to follow their heart. It’s because of all the tries and failures that he’s made that he’s finally able to grow and get closer and closer to success. I was lucky to have met Joey and the rest of the ASDO team, and my only wish is that I can take what I’ve learned and show him the respect that his teachings and efforts got through, and that he’s truly the hero and man he’s always wanted to be seen as by others.
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You also have a gig with Kamen Ramen’s latest collab with Deviant Children for a second episode of Power Rangers: Unworthy, and you got the honor to wear gang green as Tommy (or Tomi?). I always suspected someone out there might lend a female-fronted take on that character. How did you land on this particular project after episode one received so much acclaim?
Thanks to Gee and Jourdan, my Power Ranger dream came true! They had me in mind for the Green Ranger Tommy. It does help that Kamen Ramen is basically family to ASDO, so I’m appreciative of the opportunity I had because of this connection. They did have people asking to be casted as Green Ranger. Kamen Ramen also tried having casting calls for the series, but no one they came across screamed “Tommy” or had the action ability needed. I was fortunate that I had built the skill set, had close friends that kept me in mind, and that I don’t mind playing progressive roles.
Not only do you partake in the action next to your fellow rangers in your bout with the Arbiter, you also share what looks like a poignant scene with Jenny Garcia’s portrayal of Kimberly. Talk about the Green Ranger’s entry into the Unworthy series and what your character is going through upon arrival?
Without giving too much away of the story line, Tommy and Kim in this universe are a couple, just so happens they’re both girls. Leaving off from last episode, the Power Rangers were stuck in a tight spot facing defeat, but you always have that one friend that comes in last minute to save the day! Tommy acts as Kim’s rock and the hopeful, inspiring spark that reminds the team that together they’re unstoppable. No matter how tough things get, she’s willing to stand up confidently and protect her friends. You’re going to have to find out by watching it if her optimism and skills are enough to defeat the Arbiter.
Any plans to attend a Power Morphicon after this?
Would love to get the chance to attend Power Morphicon! As long as time and resources permit, it would be an amazing experience to go. I hope I’ll be able to meet even more cool people to work with and connect.
I kinda wanted to pick your brain with this: If you weren’t doing film and martial arts at all in life, where do you think you’d see yourself?
It’s impossible for me to NOT be doing martial arts — seriously. I’ve had to take breaks because of health issues, going away for school, and changing of instructors. However, I’ve always found a way back to it. Despite doctors saying I shouldn’t be training in a contact sport to instructors leaving suddenly, there’s not an bone in my body that can stand still knowing I should be on a mat training. It kills me even now that with adult responsibilities I can’t train as much as I want. Martial arts will always be the backbone for what I want to do in life.
With filming, if I wasn’t doing it, I’d probably be going hardcore teaching, training and demonstrating martial arts. I’d focus more on competitions and fine tuning my skill set for demos. However, there’s something deep down inside of me that knows I am suppose to be a martial arts performer. If it wasn’t in front of a camera, I’d be doing live performances and choreographing those. Performing is part of who I am. I know that a lot of people see the potential for me to become a top notch martial arts film actress, and I want to believe it, too. However, believing it and doing it are two separate acts. If filming was out of the equation, I know as long as I work hard I’d be showing my skills in some other light out there. For now, I’m holding on to that “Jackie Chan” dream where I can kick ass on screen and inspire people to take up martial arts.
Talk about your experience being a teacher and your involvement with kids at the facility where you work.
Being a teacher is both a rewarding job — and a trying job. I teach kids through adults starting at 3 years old. Kids have limitless possibilities if they study and train smart and hard. It’s rewarding to see their growth and how proud they feel about themselves when they finally get it.
Kids also make teaching interesting, haha. There’s always something that shocks you. They say or do and sometimes and it makes you laugh. Other times you want to rip your hair out and question how was that even possible. The job teaches you patience that’s for sure. I have a lot of patiences and tolerance because of my years of teaching.
There are some kids that have a knack for martial arts and easily get the lessons, and there are others that have behavioral issues or aren’t as coordinated. While it makes my day easier to work with someone that gets it right away, it’s a lot more rewarding when I can change someone that everyone else seems to have left behind. They aren’t all successes, but the ones that are are the greatest gifts. For that, I am humbled to know I’m in a position where I can inspire the younger generation to learn about the martial arts world and make something of themselves whatever their endeavors might be.
Every year has its highs and lows and you’ve certainly had your share. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned and relative hopes you share for the new year.
2018 was filled with plenty of highs and lows — I have realized that I play a role in the larger scheme of things. I’m not a perfect human being — in fact I’m not the best, but that’s something I’ve come to terms with.
For every action there’s going to be a consequence, and you have to decide if that consequence is going to be worth it. Some decisions I made this year were great and others I regret deeply. Someone told me that if you make a mistake that’s okay, but it’s what you do afterwards that proves the person you are, and if you make a mistake, your apology must be as loud as that mistake.
I’ve celebrated loudly and I’ve cried my heart out. Life keeps moving forward, so in the times that I do want to stay in a corner and cry I realize I can’t anymore. Crying isn’t going to fix anything, only action; Living in past celebrations isn’t going to do anything either – it only festers regret and stagnancy.
2019 is coming fast, and personally it’s going to be my redemption year. I’ve grown a lot during 2018 and I’m not going to ignore the good I have done for myself and others, but I have to acknowledge my mistakes, too. I’m hoping that the people that I’ve hurt can one day forgive me and that I can earn their respect and trust back. In the meantime, I need to make moves to prove to myself that I can change for the better. 2019 is about letting my actions speak for me.
Are you able to share any details on other projects you otherwise might have on deck from here on?
I’m going to be working on some personal projects to help change and grow into the person I want to be. I still plan on doing film projects if people choose to cast me, so don’t think I’m going to be leaving the screen [laughs]. I’m still working on becoming my own hero. I have way to much fun performing and I need to on my craft in that field still.
I want to thank you greatly for taking the time to answer my questions. I always wanted to share your story as it continues and I hope we will get to share more discussions. In the meantime, do you have any final words you would like to share as we exit this interview?
Thank you to everyone that’s helped me up until now. Thanks Lee for the opportunity to share my story and work. Thanks to Joey, Steph and the rest of Art School Dropouts for taking me in and showing me the possibilities that are out there. Thank you to Gee and Andy for being brothers up north and reaching out to me from the very beginning. Thank you to Hector from Team One Take for always having my back on set. Thank you to Bobby Samuels for sharing your wisdom, kindness, and support. Thanks to all the fans that have followed and supported me from the beginning. Thank you to everyone that’s made an impact on my life, good and bad, because you gave me lessons that will grow me into the person I know I can be. 2019 is coming soon and with that a whole new AJ. I want to make everyone proud — including myself, so please continue to follow my journey. It’s #BacktotheBasics! #KeeponKicking!
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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