For the first four years of my studying in the U.S., I couldn't go home for two reasons. One is I was afraid that if I left my student visa may not hold and I wouldn't be able to come back to continue. Second, there was this big outrage in China that I didn't know how to face the public.
A lot of professional dancers become professional when they turn 15 or 16 years old, when they're still children. So you've trained every single waking moment up until that point for a career that could maybe only last 10 years, maybe longer if your body holds up, if your injuries are kept at bay.
When I was in high school, my mom gave me a paperweight. It was when I was going through my 'not that interested in doing homework or really working on anything' phase and the paperweight said "If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes." And that's sort of the same thing, if you're not always working to be in the front.
I love to work. I know that sounds ridiculous to say because all people love to work, but I love the homework that goes into acting. I love figuring out different ways of playing a scene. I love the energy of being on set. I love not getting enough sleep because I have to wake up early in the morning.
You never know where your next job is going to lead you, down the road. One single episode that might seem so far removed from what you might end up doing in the future might spark somebody's memory bank. Just one little line you said or a look you gave might be what they want to pursue with a character.
What a person feels within themselves and about themselves radiates from them. Trust me, I have worked with people - both men and women - who are not what most would consider conventionally attractive, but who exude such a magnetism about them that people are compelled to watch them on stage or screen.
It gets better. It gets so much easier to be in your skin no matter what size that skin is. If you do something that you're good at and that makes you happy, that's the best outlet that I could ever suggest to anybody....if you are able to just enjoy who you are, and if you can learn to love who you are, then you'll just be a much happier person.
Acting is fascinating to me. I love unlocking the mysteries with characters and finding out what would be the most intriguing aspect of that character to exist in. Figuring out a person and getting to be a different person every day, hey - that's pretty lucky. I don't have to wake up and be Amanda if I don't feel like it. You know, that's fun.
There's always going to be somebody that you consider maybe more beautiful. But nine times out of ten here in L.A., that beauty isn't home grown. It's usually manufactured. It sort of encourages me to work more within myself because I think that's not what appeals to me. Plastic and tons of makeup.
I think it would be fair to say that most female dancers have dealt with, whether it's an extreme, or minor complex in eating disorders. So the first thing I would say to girls who are feeling that way is you're not alone. You're far from alone. You're the majority. There's absolutely nothing wrong with what you're feeling.