Written By Malin Jörnvi
Published: February 6, 2017
It’s finally time for another episode of the “Meet Series” – my ongoing quest to introduce you to some of the best people I know. Here’s Xiao!
Xiao is an international student from China and a Theater senior in Tisch. Right now, I honestly can’t remember how we met, perhaps it was in the Downstein dining hall back in the days of meal plans, but it’s of no prime importance, because what matters are the many intricate and deep conversations we’ve had ever since. Xiao knows a lot about the inner life of an actor and he’s not afraid to talk about it, and his not afraid show it, something which he’s done in the multitude of productions he and his violin has starred in in the past couple of years. And yes Xiao, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, maybe there actually needs to be a soul?
Tell us about your hometown!
I am from Changsha, Hunan(长沙，湖南) – A city of two worlds. We have a mountain on the west side and skyscrapers on the other with a river dividing in the middle. We eat very spicy food and have our own dialect. Every city in my province have their own dialect and we always make fun of each other because of that. There’s over two million people in my city yet there’s still a strong sense of community because most people either grew up in the city or within the province.
Four years in NYC, two in Chinatown – how do you feel about The Big Apple at this moment?
I feel invigorated. Though I have anxieties about what happens after graduation without the institutional education system that I’ve been part of since six years old, I feel ready to take on whatever I need to do to set a foot in the world. I feel lucky that I get to meet some of my best friends here. Without them the city is a whole different experience.
Experimental Theater Wing, Commedia dell’arte, Abu Dhabi January term… You have a lot of training. What is theater to you?
Theater is everything.
We saw La La Land together, do you agree that a muse is the inspiration for most art?
I don’t necessarily agree with that. Or shall we define what “muse” and “art” is in the question? The question seems to imply that the muse is a human being, particularly a romantic interest, that inspires artistic creation. I think this is the case if someone is making something about romantic love. Yet I believe that the inspiration for someone to create art can be multi-facet and sometimes inexplicable. As Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how Tom Waits receives an inspiration in her TED Talk. He was driving a car in the highway and out of nowhere pops into his head a lyric of a song, and there’s nothing he could do about it.
I know this is the worst question, but you being an international student and a senior – it’s inevitable: what’s next?
OPT [Optional Practical Training, a year for work experience authorized with a F-1 Student Visa] and grad school is my plan right now.
Xiao, Caffe Reggio (the first coffeehouse in he US to serve a cappuccino!), MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village