Welcome to On the Rise, a BAZAAR.com series featuring the breakout talents everyone will be talking about. Get to know these fresh faces on the verge of stardom.
Stephanie Hsu is a talent you'll likely see again—provided that she hasn't already retired to her private bucolic field, where she plans to tend to a vegetable garden.
The actress has made a name for herself on Broadway and earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). This year, she's starring in the adventure sci-fi film Everything Everywhere All at Once—and she's only just getting started.
In BAZAAR.com's latest #OnTheRise segment, Hsu reflects on her career and discusses her wild new movie and love of creative filmmaking. See highlights from her segment below.
On beating the odds …
Hsu was sure she wanted to be an actress ever since elementary school, when she starred in a fake lemonade ad in second grade. She recounts holding an empty carton of lemonade while reading a "teleprompter" (a piece of cardboard held by another classmate) and says of the pivotal experience, "I remember thinking to myself, This is something that I could do for my big life."
This was the case even despite the lack of Asian representation on TV. "Growing up, I just never knew that you could really, actually be an actor. My mom, specifically, she pointed at a TV screen and said, 'There's no way that you can be an actor, because nobody on the screen looks like you,'" Hsu says. "She wasn't wrong. There was no Crazy Rich Asians. There was not even a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at that time. But I don't know. Somewhere in the pit of my stomach, I knew that I had to try."
She adds, "It's a journey, and you have to really want it, and really believe in it, because you're gonna get so many noes all along the way."
On what it means to "make it" …
"To me, 'making it' means you get to make things and continue to meet people that you really care about, and love, and admire, and new creatives you don't even know about," Hsu says.
And it's also about the freedom to nourish your soul and transcend societal norms. "You get to live on a farm somewhere and no one's bothering you, and you don't have to have an Instagram," she adds, laughing. "That's what it feels like to me."
A memorable career milestone for Hsu in particular was getting cast as Christine Canigula in the 2015 Broadway musical Be More Chill. Though she admits that landing the role didn't quite make her feel like a "proper actress" yet, it made her believe in her potential. "I never, ever, ever thought that I would be a lead on Broadway," she says. "I remember thinking to myself, 'I've been given this crazy, amazing opportunity. And I have to just rise above and beyond to this occasion, because I may never get a chance like this again.'"
On Everything Everywhere All at Once …
The 2022 adventure sci-fi film about a broken family in a cosmic battle across the multiverse is—Hsu guarantees—"unlike anything anyone has ever seen, all at once, ever-never." It's a beautifully chaotic film, not just with the plane of time on which events unfold onscreen, but also the essence of the events themselves. Take one scene where Hsu's character, Joy Wang, dresses up as Elvis, for example. "I'm walking a pig, and I have a cigarette in my mouth, and I explode someone's brain into confetti," Hsu says. "It's crazy, and I am just so excited and feel so lucky that I have gotten to be a part of it."
She adds, "It is a crazy, wild, genre mash-up of a movie that will truly blow your mind, and also explode your heart and make you ugly-cry in a movie theater. And you'll be like, 'What just happened?'"
On her life in five years …
Spiritually, Hsu is in a "bucolic landscape," where she's basking in a vegetable garden. Professionally, she's creating things from a more authentic space. "I think it is a bit more vulnerable when the words and ideas come from you as opposed to someone else," she says.
Though, whether she's producing, directing, or acting, Hsu will still always see herself involved in filmmaking in some way or another. "The biggest discovery I've made in the last few years is that I love making movies," she says. Elaborating on this sentiment, she cites Keanu Reeves's famous speech in which he gushes over the idea of movies during his induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "That's how I feel. I love movies. I want to make movies forever and ever. It is the best."