Philip Zhao, Hollywood Star

Written by Claire Yu, edited by Rachel Li


On May 12, 2018, parents in the community gathered at Robert Frost Middle School for a casual Q&A with Hollywood star Philip Zhao and his parents. Philip played one of the main characters in the movie Ready Player One, which was released at the end of March 2018.

Prior to being in Ready Player One, Philip would record himself acting out CNN reports, pretending to be a journalist. His dad watched his videos and recognized his potential as an actor.


Last school year, Philip’s dad found the Ready Player One acting opportunity on WeChat. The two of them thought that it would be fun, so they filmed a video and sent it to the website. Soon, Philip was invited to audition in New York where he got the part.


“Before Ready Player One, life was all gray and black,” Philip said. After Ready Player One, all the colors flew out, like BAM. I could see all the colors. All 16 million of them.”


Philip’s dad shared his opinion on identity. “When Philip downloaded Instagram and posted a photo for the first time, he wrote, ‘I am a Chinese person.’ That made me joyful inside because he was embodying his Chinese ancestry,” he said.


Philip’s mom also shared her experience with the school after Philip had finished filming. “I think it was good for him that he was treated as an ordinary student there,” she said. “They taught him an important lesson, which I believe everyone should know: no matter who you are, you have to focus on your job.”

They taught him an important lesson, which I believe everyone should know: no matter who you are, you have to focus on your job.

Philip has a great sense of humor and is not too picky about his grades, which makes him different from most Chinese-American kids. “I’m fine with a B, to be honest,” he said. “I mean, look at the average American’s GPA. It’s 2.7.”


Now, Philip is about to end his freshman year at Thomas Wootton High School. “I just think of myself as a normal guy who struck it lucky on the big screen,” he said.


This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.

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