Multitalented performer Ricky He is acting and singing (and even dancing) his way into the world of entertainment, and his projects this summer are poised to lead this rising star into his big breakout moment.
Growing up, the Vancouver native has dedicated himself to his passion for the performing arts, attending the esteemed drama program at Lord Byng Secondary. After an attempt to focus on academic studies in the University of British Columbia’s Psychology program, He felt the call to return to acting and decided to commit himself fully to his craft.
Since then, He has amassed a multitude of credits in television, including The CW’s The Flash, Fox’s Wayward Pines, Freeform’s Beyond, SYFY’s The Magicians, CBC’s The Romeo Section, and his current role on NBC’s Trial and Error alongside Jayma Mays and Kristin Chenoweth.
In addition to acting, He, a hip-hop and R&B soul music lover, hones his limitless musical talent in beat-box, freestyle rap, guitar, ukulele, and piano by creating, writing, and singing his own original music.
The actor and musician often intertwines his love of the two art forms in his career. In 2017, he had the supporting lead role in the television feature, Christmas Solo, and also had the opportunity to record his own music for the film.
Next, He merges his acting and musical talents together once again on his biggest project to date, the Disney Channel’s movie-musical of Freaky Friday, based on the namesake musical and the original film that inspired it.
On the eve of the movie-musical’s premiere, we chat with the young actor about Freaky Friday, Trial & Error, and how he balances his love for acting and music in his work.
The Hudsucker: What inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment?
Ricky He: For as long as I can remember, I was always the kid who was singing, jumping around, and goofing off. That said, I never thought I’d ever make a career out of entertaining others. It wasn’t until first-year university when I went to a John Legend concert at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre that I decided, “Wow, this is what I want to do.”
The Hudsucker: What experiences from your performing arts background helped you get to this point in your career?
He: I’m lucky that the high school I went to was very empathetic and appreciative of the arts. It helped surround me with people of all kinds of artistic backgrounds that would eventually inspire and challenge me to be creative. The most important thing I’m grateful for is my willingness to play. I think my high school drama program has a lot to do with that.
The Hudsucker: What can you tell us about your role as Adam in the Disney Channel’s Freaky Friday?
He: Adam is the confident and quirky romantic lead of the film. He’s also the “Listmaster” who’s in charge of organizing a massive scavenger hunt for all the kids at school. It was fun to play Adam because I relate to him a lot, and we share a lot of similarities.
The Hudsucker: What was the most exciting part of being involved in this musical adaptation of the Disney classic?
He: The most exciting part was to be able to tell a story that I love and grew up with in a modern setting! The 2003 film was a childhood classic to me, so to be able to talk about those themes while incorporating the lifestyle and issues of this current generation was very cool!
The Hudsucker: What was it like utilizing your triple threat talents in acting, singing AND dancing for this part in Freaky Friday?
He: People love to say triple threat – BUT, the truth is, I’m not a great dancer! I can do my thing if I’m at a party or something, but choreography constantly escapes me. I remember Isaiah and I were learning the choreography for the final scene in the movie and our wonderful choreographer John Carrafa looked at us and said, “You know what guys? Your characters probably wouldn’t have to dance during this part.” He benched us because we were awful and I am honestly so glad!
The Hudsucker: What can viewers expect from watching this movie-musical?
He: They will enjoy the music. Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey wrote it and it’s insanely good. However, our director Steve Carr didn’t want the musical numbers to feel like a removal from the plot. I think with their collaboration, along with our choreographer Carrafa, we really integrated the songs into the movie. The musical numbers aren’t separate from the film. They help convey emotion and tell the story in a truly meaningful way.
The Hudsucker: What can you tell us about your role as Tyler Chan in NBC’s Trial & Error?
He: So, so, so, so FUN! Tyler Chan is Carol Anne Keane’s assistant (played by Jayma Mays) in this season’s Trial & Error. He’s an intern who was initially supposed to be her campaign manager, but he soon learns that he’s basically just an enthusiastic punching bag. Such an outrageously fun character to play.
The Hudsucker: What was it like working alongside Jayma Mays and Kristin Chenoweth?
He: They were both so incredibly funny and sweet! Kristin was so spectacular on set so the whole experience was truly a blessing. Everyone was singing, laughing, or dancing in between and during every take, so it really felt like I was being paid to go to work and watch a show!
The Hudsucker: In addition to your acting, you’re a very accomplished musician! What can you tell us about your musical pursuits?
He: I’m always kind of writing music but the timing has never been perfect. I’m looking to put out a mixtape soon hopefully!
The Hudsucker: What advice to you have for aspiring young actors looking to break into the entertainment industry?
He: Don’t take it so seriously. Here’s what I mean. If you want to become a professional working actor, it’s vital for you to develop a strong work ethic and really put in the hours. You have to research and learn, study and prepare, and then do it all over again. Yet, I think the hardest part is, upon doing all of your preparation, to be willing to drop all your expectations and just have fun. Play. And don’t take it so seriously. Paradoxical, huh?
The Hudsucker: What can you share with us about your upcoming projects? What do you hope to pursue next in your career?
He: I’m gonna be all over your TV screens this fall! You can catch me on Lifetime’s No One Would Tell in September. I also just wrapped a couple of episodes on CW’s Arrow where I got to work alongside Rick Gonzales, who I’ve always looked up to. I have a couple of other secret things that are coming up, but I can’t speak on that just yet! Stay tuned!
Catch Ricky He on Disney Channel’s ‘Freaky Friday’ airing Aug. 10 and on Season 2 of Trial & Error currently airing on NBC.