By Jill Sheets
Recently, I got to interview Los Angeles native, ViviAnn Yee. This award-winning American actress started acting, singing, and dancing roughly around the age of four, when her mom signed her up for a musical theater class. She has made guest appearances on Modern Family. She has many upcoming projects that I cannot wait to see. Read on and learn more about her upcoming projects, her top five favorite authors and books, and who has been her biggest influence.
R: Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in acting.
V: I was born in Los Angeles and live with my mom, dad, and older brother. I am very lucky because I have a wonderful family who supports me in everything I do. I was four years old when my mom first signed me up for an after school musical theater class at my new preschool. She thought it would help me meet new friends and give me something fun to do after school. Because of that, I fell in love with acting and singing. After about five years performing in local theater productions, I got signed with a talent agency and started doing commercials, movies, and television.
R: You have a lot of projects coming out. Let’s start with The Boss Baby. Tell us about the movie and about your character Staci.
V: The Boss Baby is a super funny and heartwarming animated movie that everyone can enjoy. The story follows a baby who is a secret agent in a war between babies and puppies, but it really has a deeper message about family. My character, Staci, is the assistant to Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin). She’s supposed to be Boss Baby’s official note-taker, but she’s not very good at it. However, she does come through later for Boss Baby when he really needs it. I am so thankful to director Tom McGrath and producer Ramsey Ann Naito, the two amazing and kind people who gave me this wonderful opportunity. It’s such a fun movie that I hope you all will go see.
R: Tell us about A Children’s Song and about your character.
V: This project was important to me in many ways. First, it’s such a wonderful story based on true historical facts of friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people. Did you know that in the 1930s and early 1940s more Jews went to Shanghai, China to flee Nazi Germany than any other city? I didn’t know that before working on this movie. Another great thing about this film is that I got to use my bilingual language skill of Mandarin Chinese. My character, Young Meizhen, shows the audience this story of how one friendship between two cultures all began. And most importantly, this film was made by an amazing team headed by famous producer Sid Ganis and actress/producer Jane Wu, so I got to work with and learn from the very best.
R: Tell us about some of your other projects that will be coming out.
V: I just finished playing the lead role in a film called Paper Daughters. This is a beautiful and moving story that, coincidentally, is also set in 1940s Shanghai. It’s about two sisters who want to move to America after their mom dies. The problem was that, at the time, the Chinese weren’t allowed to enter the United States because there was a ban on Chinese immigration. So the two sisters pretended to be mother and daughter so they could get in another way. This immigration ban is a factual part of American history that many people don’t know about and is really relevant to today’s times. The director Alexander Lu is a very talented young filmmaker and this is the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him. He flew me out to New York from Los Angeles to work with him and his incredible team and I loved every second of it.
R: Not only do you act, but you also sing. Do you have plans to release any music in the future?
V: I do have another really amazing project that will be coming out later this year. I’m not supposed to discuss any details about it yet but I can tell you that there will be some singing in it. So please follow me on social media for updates.
R: What has been your favorite memory so far?
V: My favorite memory is of all the great times with people I’ve met on sets. I’ve learned that filmmaking is kind of like a big jigsaw puzzle, where every piece is a person who has a very important job. We become like a big family who depends on and supports each other. We all work hard together to make sure everything turns out well, but we also try to find little moments during the day to joke around and have some fun too. On one set we held “staring contests” with each other in between takes to see who would blink first. Everyone got a good laughs out of that.
R: What advice would you give someone who wants to become an actress?
V: I would say that continuing to study and do well at school is really important. It’s also good to take acting classes, but it’s also equally important to just be a kid. Have fun with your friends, take on a hobby, or maybe learn a sport or musical instrument, and develop some really good work and study habits, because being an actor takes lots of hard work and discipline.
R: What is your favorite Bible verse?
V: Luke 6:31: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” I think it’s important to treat all people with kindness and respect. So I always try to be mindful of others and treat them the way I would want them to treat me.
R: Do you have any charities that are close to your heart? If so, tell us about them.
V: I really like to give back and help others whenever possible. I have volunteered for the Junior Blind of America since I was eight years old. I followed in my older brother’s footsteps on this one because he started when he was my age too, and now he’s a counselor-in-training for them during the summer. It’s a really great and important organization that helps blind and visually-impaired kids and their families. I’ve volunteered as a sighted “buddy” for several years now and the experiences there have meant so much. A few of the many others organizations I have volunteered for include my local church and Project Angel Food which prepares and delivers meals to those who are critically ill.
R: Who has been your biggest influence?
V: My mom has definitely been my biggest influence. She always told both my brother and I that our true character is what we do when no one is looking. She has been there for me every step of the way and is the main reason I’ve gotten to where I am today. I couldn’t ask for a better mom.
R: You are a member of Mensa. Would you mind telling our readers what it is and how you became a member?
V: Mensa is the oldest and largest high-IQ society in the world. You can get in if you score really high on an official intelligence test. I got in by doing really well on a gifted test they gave all the kids at my public school. So I guess you could say that it’s an organization of smart people. But I’ve realized that my proudest accomplishments happened when I worked really hard on something rather than just relying on my natural abilities.
R: I read that you like to read books. Who are your top five authors and/ or books?
V: My top five authors and books are:
- Rick Riordan – “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
- J.K Rowling – “Harry Potter.”
- Suzanne Collins – “The Hunger Games.”
- Natalie Babbitt – “Tuck Everlasting.”
- Madeleine L’Engle – “A Wrinkle in Time.”
R: What are five things people may not know about you.
V: I play the cello. I like to jazz and hula dance. My favorite color is periwinkle. My favorite animal is the panda. I am bilingual, so I am also fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official site and/or YouTube page?
V: Please follow me on
Facebook: ViviAnn Yee
R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?
V: I love to hear from you, so please write to me. And if you include a stamped, self-addressed envelope I’ll send you a signed photo (size of the envelope will determine the size of photo you will receive).
ViviAnn Yee c/o CESD Talent Agency
10635 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
R: ViviAnn, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.
V: Thank you for having me! The honor was all mine!
Picture credits: DreamWorks Animation and ViviAnn Yee, ViviAnn Yee, Guy Pooles, and Jih-E Peng