ABC’s The Good Doctor was one of 2017’s hottest new shows and Christina Chang is one of the show’s newest series regulars, after being promoted over the summer from a recurring role. On the show, she plays Dr. Audrey Lim, an attending trauma surgeon at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. I got the chance to talk with Christina about how she originally got into acting, what having three Asian American series regulars on The Good Doctor means to her, what she nerds out about and so much more!
Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
I originally came into acting through dance. I took ballet for 8 years and then when I turned 13, I found out I needed to wear a back brace for my scoliosis which put an end to my dance aspirations. I turned to acting as an outlet and it stuck!
Was there a specific person or experience that you would credit with helping you decide acting is what you wanted to do for a living?
There are a number of people along the way that deserve credit for encouraging me, but the defining moment is probably the day I told my parents I was thinking about switching my major in college to theatre and their reaction was: well, why don’t you minor in theatre? Keep it on the side as something fun to do, but major in something reliable you can fall back on. And I thought: if I do that, I’ll fall back and never make a go of acting. So I chose to trust that instinct, go for acting, and not look back.
You’ve had a lot of different types of roles on a lot of different mediums. Do you have an acting “bucket list” of things you still want to accomplish in your career? If so, what are some of the things on it?
I’d love to be on Broadway, a movie musical (think Baz Luhrmann/Rob Marshall), an action film, a Phoebe Waller-Bridge ½ hour, and last but not least: get some projects off the ground through my production company! There’s a ton of actors I’d love to work with too.
Let’s talk about The Good Doctor. First off, congratulations on being bumped up to a series regular! How did you find out about the news?
Thank you so much! My manager called to tell me; it was a pretty great phone call to receive!
You getting bumped up to series regular means there are now three Asian-Americans as series regulars on The Good Doctor. How important is it to have that kind of representation on television and what does it mean to you to be a part of it?
Look at your first sentence; it’s amazing to read because when I first started out, it was pretty rare to even see an Asian American actor on a show, never mind three! And I love to be in the company of Tamlyn Tomita and Will Yun Lee. ABC/Sony has thankfully made that happen, and of course, the great David Shore is at the helm, so I’m ever grateful to be a part of their universe. The original driving forces behind this project are Sebastian Lee, David Kim, and Daniel Dae Kim. However, Daniel has been instrumental in moving the needle for Asian American actors and this is no exception. He’s tireless in his pursuit of telling diverse stories, particularly Asian American ones, and I am honored to be a part of a show that he brought to the U.S. from Korea.
What was the energy like when you all got back on-set for season two after the highly successful first season?
It was fantastic. Everybody was excited to be back and ready to tell more great stories and explore our characters more!
What can you tell us about where we’ll find ourselves when season two starts? I was reading that we’ll be exploring Dr. Lim’s life outside of the hospital in Season 2, particularly when it comes to her romantic relationships. What can you tease about that?
Oh man, this is always a tough question because we’re not allowed to divulge much! David Shore is big on keeping our cards close to our vest. BUT, I can say that we finally get to see Lim outside of the hospital, which provides some insight into who she is and how she handles, or doesn’t handle, the romance realm.
Being on a medical drama, what kind of research do you do about the medical procedures? Are you googling terms when you get a script or do you leave it to the medical consultants to explain it to you once you get on set?
All of it. I’ve definitely had to google certain terms; I mean some of them are pretty tough to pronounce! I’ll also go to YouTube and try to figure out what certain procedures look like, at least the ones that are google-able (Is that a word?). We also have a great medical consult, Susie Schelling, who is a gem of a human and great at showing us exactly what to do. It’s a delicate balance, knowing how to perform a surgery for TV, because we need to make it look as believable as possible but do it in a way that is exciting to a viewer and make it all fit in a particular time frame before the scene is over. Susie helps us do that!
Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. So what is something you personally nerd out about?
I get nerdy about mom stuff. I love to geek out on all the different approaches of parenting. I like to research different toys/STEM toys for my daughter. I like to know what other moms and dads are doing to engage their kids, etc. It’s a weird black hole though, so I’m careful not to fall too deeply into one particular belief system or philosophy. It always comes back to trusting yourself!