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Health Meet Jun Yu, the Actor Behind Mulan's Lovable Cricket: 'It's Really Brave to Have Heart'

02:01  05 september  2020
02:01  05 september  2020 Source:   people.com

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Mulan : " It WAS last month." Mulan and Shang have only known each other for one month before he proposed, which may contribute to some of the ultimate discomfort we will encounter later on in this movie. Mulan : "Naturally." Yao: "I'll be leaving behind a few broken hearts , but count me in!"

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For Jun Yu, starring as Cricket in Mulan is "a dream" he never imagined.

Before scoring the role as the lovable and innocent "mama's boy" — adapted from the animated Cri-Kee in the original film — Yu never saw this type of opportunity coming.

In fact, Mulan was his first-ever audition.

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It was met with universal acclaim and in August of the same year transferred to Broadway. Since then the show has exploded in popularity, winning many awards including 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

"I just never thought something like this was going to happen so soon on this scale," he tells PEOPLE. "I thought I would slowly work my way up, but to start out the gate with something like this is an honor."

a close up of a person wearing a hat: Jun Yu in Mulan © Disney Jun Yu in Mulan

His journey to the screen isn't the most typical and as a kid, he says he didn't think he could ever become an actor.

RELATED: Mulan Star Yifei Liu Talks Scoring the Role of a Lifetime: ‘This Is Really a Dream Moment’

a man standing in front of a brick building: Brett Erickson Jun Yu © Provided by People Brett Erickson Jun Yu

"When we watched movies and films, I never saw anybody like me," he says. "It was like out of sight, out of mind. If you don't see anybody like you, you don't really think that's a thing for you."

Growing up as one of the only Asian students at his Oakland middle school, he was the quiet, shy kid in class. He went into high school with the same mentality, thinking that one day he'd become a doctor.

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But then came freshman year of high school. After the yoga class he signed up for ("easy credit," he says) filled up, he was placed in an acting class.

"It changed my entire personality," he admits.

And that's where Yu’s extraversion began to shine, where he started to build his confidence and his love for entertaining. After high school, he attended USC, where he met like-minded creatives (such as Aubrey Joseph, who plays Cloak in Cloak & Dagger).

a person posing for the camera: Brett Erickson Jun Yu © Provided by People Brett Erickson Jun Yu

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"When I got the call that I got the role, I definitely saw it for five days of pure joy, and then I stopped going to school," he joked on the Mulan red carpet in March. "I'm just so so blessed."

What followed was months of training: archery, cardio and even horseback riding.

"That was a really hard experience for me because I have a huge fear of horses, so riding one was very scary," he says, laughing. "I don't really go behind horses, but I can look at them and maybe feed them an apple. That's as far as it goes really, man."

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It wasn't until Saturday, when the antibiotics took effect, his temperature dropped and he got up, that he realised with a shock that the loss of the walnut tree had made a permanent difference to the appearance of the living-room. The Pelhams' large house stood in a sizeable garden.

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Yu embodied the role of Cricket, the comedic relief in a serious, inspiring movie like Mulan. He was made for the role of the "wide-eyed, extremely innocent" kid.

RELATED: Christina Aguilera Drops 'Fresh New Take' on 'Reflection' for Upcoming Live-Action Mulan

a close up of a person wearing a hat: Disney Jun Yu in Mulan © Provided by People Disney Jun Yu in Mulan

"I want my character to show that it's really brave to have heart, to be sensitive and to care about others," he says.

The live-action adaptation alone defies odds as only 1% of all leading roles in Hollywood feature Asian-American actors, according to a study from USC Annenberg. But releasing this film during the coronavirus pandemic is particularly important as Asians have been targets of racism in recent months.

Yu has a simple message: "We're not this virus. We're just other Americans. Human beings."

He hopes that Asian children watching this film will feel seen and heard — and that they realize that if they want to pursue acting, they absolutely can.

"It's an honor for me that any kid that even looks at me and decides they want to really pursue their dreams," Yu says. "It'd just mean everything to me. I'm just a kid out here pursuing his dreams, trying to inspire others to do the same."

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It was Sunday morning and I was still in bed. I was in the habit of sleeping till late on Sundays as it was my only day off. Right, I had to go to school Later in the evening my little brother presented us with a lot of information about that type of dinosaurs which, I have to admit it , was absolutely new to me.

Mulan premieres Friday on Disney+.


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