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Life & Work with Ju Li

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ju Li.

Hi Ju, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Chengdu, a city in southwest China. When I was seven, my mom and I immigrated to Germany. In Germany, I lived for another 7-8 years before I went back to China to strengthen my Chinese language. So how did I end up here in Los Angeles at last studying acting? That’s a long story. I’ve always been drawn to movies since I was a child. Growing up, I never had a focus point where and what I wanted to be. After a year of undecided major in college here in the States, I finally had the guts to choose to study film. Why the guts? Cause that’s something I loved but never came in any contact with and so did my family. So choosing it was a big and risky challenge for me. I studied Film Studies for a year before I switched to Acting. Even though I loved film studies, it didn’t catch my attention as much as working in production part of a movie and in front of the camera. So out of curiosity, I chose an acting elective once and I fell in love with acting. I knew from that moment what I wanted and didn’t hesitate to start my undergrad again to study acting! So here I am, two months after my bachelor of arts degree graduation, waiting for this pandemic to get better so I can get ready and show to the world who I am!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Whatever one does, there will never be a smooth road. We will always face obstacles and have struggles because that’s the only way we can get better and improve. I’ve faced many challenges in life, but this year in 2020, no doubt we all had to face Covid-19. This pandemic is a once in a lifetime experience which will change or lives forever. I graduated during the pandemic on Zoom. Spending my last semester online and graduating online was a bummer for me, but I am glad that I finished strong. There were times where I wanted to just don’t give a shit about anything anymore, but I didn’t because I knew that that person that is going to be successful wouldn’t be like this. So I kept working hard and finished strong with high grades and graduated proudly.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’ve been studying acting for three years here in LA and recently graduated. During my school years, I am honored to have chance to participate in many student thesis films and independent films. I am very proud to have worked with so many creative and talented students and filmmakers from all around the world, which I think it’s the beauty and advantage of studying film and acting here in LA. A quote from Dr. Seuss perfectly describes that each of us sets apart from one another: “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” There is no other you, but don’t rush, it will take time for us to recognize our bright spot! And that’s what I believe in which keeps me motivated to work harder and harder. What’s interesting is that throughout the three years of acting classes, I get to know myself better. And what actually sets me apart from others is my independence and patience. I’ve lived in so many different continents and every time I get to a new place with a new culture, I study it, I take it in and I respect it. And throughout all those years, I’ve gathered enough experience and knowledge that I feel a different kind of proximity with all kinds of human being.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
It might not be surprising, but I think this is important to know. Acting is like a medicine for me. I am in total agreement with the master, Lee Strasberg who once said: “I don’t teach you to act, I teach you to live”, and I love how Lee Strasberg sees living life as a part of acting. His technique, the Method, “teaches actors to re-create — not to copy, not to make believe, but to connect to what you know and use it as a character”. I never felt I was completely someone else in all the roles I have played, whether as a female, thief, or even serial killer. Of course, that doesn’t mean I am a female, thief, or a serial killer. No matter what kind of ridiculous or ordinary roles I had the chance to play, I always found a shadow of myself in them. As an introvert, I am usually quiet and I don’t express myself and share my thoughts a lot toward the public, but acting is like a cure that helps me to express myself in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. Deciding to study acting was like suddenly opening a door in my life, and behind that door is an endless corridor with endless doors on each side that awaits me to open up. Through each different role, I always find new information about myself and that’s the beauty of acting for me and that’s why I love it. Now, I cannot live without acting because it is liberating and emancipating for me, and sometimes when I am playing a character, I become the true ME.

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