By Audrey H. ('23), The Blue & Gold
Andrew Chau (‘08), a Taipei American School (TAS) alumnus, is now starring in the Taiwanese miniseries “Seqalu: Formosa 1867,” which was released in August 2021. “Seqalu” is available on Netflix, MOD and LINE TV.
The TAS Alumni Office organized a Fireside Chat on Sept. 23 where over 30 students, alumni, faculty and other members of the TAS community joined to watch Andrew share his experiences at TAS, his acting career and more.
Gustavo V. (‘22) interviewed Andrew during the Fireside Chat. “As a senior [who is interested in film], I feel like I have a connection with some of the hoops that Andrew had to go through to go to theatre school,” Gustavo said.
Andrew’s mandarin teacher, Upper School World Languages Teacher Ms. Fenny Lin, and his history teacher, Upper School History Teacher and Social Studies Department Chair Dr. Brandon Maguire, were among Andrew’s TAS teachers who attended the Zoom call. “I always think it is great to watch our students grow up,” Dr. Maguire said.
Upper School History Teacher Mr. Richard Arnold also remembers Andrew’s stage presence through watching his performances in the upper school drama productions. “[Andrew is] a natural. He has a natural presence on the stage,” Mr. Arnold said. “He is able to project whatever part he has really well… You don’t [even] think he’s acting.”
Andrew’s initial interest in acting and theater stemmed from an encounter in a TAS English class. When Andrew was still a high school freshman, his English teacher, Mr. Thomas facilitated a dramatic reading during class. During the dramatic reading, Andrew performed a ghostly howl and even fake cried.
After that English class, Mr. Thomas introduced Andrew to Mr. Bishop, who was the drama teacher at the time. Mr. Bishop invited Andrew to audition for the upcoming drama production. A year later, Andrew was cast in the Upper School Drama Production, “Bang Bang You’re Dead.”
Andrew also recalls the impact that TAS had on his critical thinking, including teachers who challenged him to think outside the box. He particularly remembers his chemistry and math teachers, Mrs. Farmer and Mr. Cook, as they encouraged to change the way he viewed those subjects. “They just tilted their head at that answer and they were like ‘are you sure?’ They challenged me to change the way I looked at a challenging situation,” Andrew said. “Those were some of the turning points of my youth.”
Middle School History Teacher Mr. Weston Cooper (‘08), who is also a TAS alumnus, met Andrew when they both transferred to TAS in ninth grade from local school, and they have been close friends since. “I admired how [Andrew] was able to do what he found joy in and hang out with the people he wanted to despite [other people’s opinions],” Mr. Cooper said.
Andrew studied theater arts in college, where his Senior Project focused on Lighting Design. After nearly a year of work in lighting, Andrew decided to try pursuing a career in professional acting, and has been doing it ever since.
In 2013, Andrew moved back to Taiwan, where he played different roles prior to landing a role in “Seqalu” as William Pickering. “Seqalu” is a Taiwanese miniseries released in August 2021. It reconstructs the history of the fatal Rover Incident in 1867 when the US sent a military expedition to investigate a shipwreck in Taiwan.
The miniseries explores the complexities of history, specifically in relation to cultural compositions in the Hengchun Peninsula. After the American merchant ship, Rover, was shipwrecked off the coast of southern Taiwan, there were conflicts among different ethnic groups in the area, including interactions with the local Indigenous people, witnessed later by main characters Le Gendre and Butterfly.
“My hope is that this makes people find those lost traditions… these are universal in their vulnerability,” Andrew said. “I think that honoring their presence and existence is important… I hope it makes them examine things on a deeper, more universal level.”
“Because of [Andrew’s] sense of social justice whether for native Americans or Indigenous people… I was so proud,” Mr. Arnold said.
Although some of Andrew’s upcoming film projects were canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus, Andrew has been writing, painting and continuing to pursue acting. “Coming through my 20s, I realize I have a limited amount of time… so I need to do the things that I enjoy and love… I am enjoying the small things,” Andrew said.