Xana Tang is a Chinese-Vietnamese actress from New Zealand. She stars in Disney’s highly anticipated live-action Mulan. Xana made her screen breakthrough at sixteen years old playing “Spit” in the award-winning feature film Matariki. She’s also starred in numerous television shows including The Almighty Johnsons, Filthy Rich, and Dead Lucky. She currently plays “Luck” in the comedy series Fresh Eggs alongside her Mulan co-star Yoson An.

Instagram: @xana.nana

How did you get started in acting? What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?

I was introduced to drama class as a subject in high school. I had my first audition and was cast for a feature film (Matariki) when I was 16. For the longest time I had convinced myself and everyone around me that acting was ‘just a thing I did on the side’. It came from a mixture of fear of failure, fear of my own potential and the unknown. Accepting and allowing myself to have a fully creative life on my own terms was the biggest hurdle.

Who do you look up to? Why?

It changes depending on the phase in my life. Right now, it’s my friends, my peers, the artists around me who are riding the highs and lows of finding themselves in this world. Even through the struggles, I’m excited to see how they grow through the painful phases of life and discover parts of themselves they never knew but needed to know.

Huge congrats on your upcoming role in Mulan!Can you tell us a little about how this project came your way? How did you feel when you found out you got the part?

Fate brought Mulan to me. The morning of my 24th birthday I had the email for the audition. It was an extremely long process and when my agent Gail (Gail Cowan Management) called I felt a wave of relief that the wait was now over. It marked the end of the audition process and start of the real work.

There is a lot of buzz and excitement that this film will feature an all-Asian cast. Why do you think it is important to invest in diversity and to have representation in films?

Diversity means all inclusive, for everyone, universality.

We share this world with other people, so it’s important to understand how to live in it together. To love our similarities and find strength in our differences. Sharing our stories allows us to evolve into compassionate beings. That’s what’s lacking in the world right now and it’s being reflected on our screens.

What is it like being on-set with a powerhouse of talented cast members and director?

Everyone is here to work and we believe this story because we’ve lived it. Being surrounded by creatives, seasoned and break through artists on and off set felt like the after party of a massive family reunion. Only the fun relatives get invited. No judgement and everyone’s there to support you and your growth.

Outside of acting, what do you like to do? Any passions or hobbies?

My friend Mojean Aria (Dead Lucky) got me into reading plays. I love going to the beach and reading them, then watching the film version if there is one, to see how the film served the writing. I recently learned how to swim so I’m at the beach on my own a lot. I was taught body boarding last summer and I hope I’ll be doing lots more of that soon!

If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would you tell her?

Do it. Or don’t do it. But choose the one that won’t make you look back with regret.

Find your own truth and back yourself girl. Take everything with a grain of salt, you have opinions, thoughts and feelings too – don’t forget that they’re also valid.

Did you face any personal hurdles and how have you overcome them?

I think I’d be lying if I said none at all. Heck I’m going through them right now!

The important thing is to gently remind myself that I’m not the only person on Earth feeling this way. But it doesn’t mean that my hurdle is invalid or less difficult. I try not to glorify it or invest too much energy into a temporary situation. It is what it is. I’ll figure it out and it’s all happening because some higher energy knows I’m ready for it, even if I don’t feel like I am.

Are there any books, TV shows or movies that inspire you?

Stories that get to the core of humanity and love. The stories that make you think hard about how you live your own life, how you affect others and challenge your behavioral patterns. The film FOR NAMESAKE by Jhumpa Lahiri forever changed my relationship with my parents. Everyone needs to watch this.

What other projects are you working on either now or in the future that we should we on the lookout for?

Other than Mulan, one of my favourite projects Dead Lucky, a crime-thriller is available to view on Sundance Now.

Fresh Eggs – a kiwi comedy that I did with Yoson An, (love interest in Mulan) he’s my good mate who happens to play my husband in it! And we’ve just wrapped filming on season 2 of The Letdown which should be on Netflix sometime next year!

What advice do you have for Asians and other minorities who want to pursue a career in the Entertainment industry?

Find out why you want to this, because it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. Own your truth, your quirks and your culture because there’s no one that can do you, like you.

Then do it because you love the process. Do it because you’ll never get the feeling elsewhere. Everything else is secondary.

What motto do you live by?

Everything you ever needed is already within you.

Be gentle with yourself. You are a Child of the Universe. No less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Follow Xana Tang on Instagram: xana.nana