top of page
  • by Heloise Wilson



Cynthia Hu was a highly-creative child; she was gifted at traditional calligraphy and has been dancing since she was a toddler. In high school, her passion for the arts developed. Everything clicked. She decided to pursue acting. Today Cynthia is an actress based in NYC working in film and theatre. She still uses dance and painting as part of her creative process when developing characters. She shares that she has a very deep connection to her body, and the physicality of a character is often what comes first to her.

Physicality is the first step, but Cynthia has a meticulous process when it comes to character development. “I do everything I can to get to know the character: reading the script, finding clues in the scripts, I invite them and welcome them into my instrument and try to answer those questions through improvisation,” she adds. Her dedication to her craft has led her to work on a myriad of successful projects both on stage and on the big screen.

Fig 1. Cynthia played the role of the ‘Hippie Girl' in "The Man Who Turned Into a Stick," a play by Japanese playwright Kobo Abe, directed by Saki Kawamura, and presented at ASDS Repertory in 2022

When asked which role made a bigger impact on her, Cynthia does not hesitate and shares with us her experience playing Hope in a play called An Infinite Ache by playwright David Schulner. A heartfelt play about love, time, and fate, An Infinite Ache is both heartbreaking and hopeful. These contradictions are what Cynthia is after. She enjoys juicy roles that encompass the wide range of feelings a human can experience. She is grateful to have played her dream role at this point in her career but has more items on her bucket list. She has also starred in the new play Would You Set The Table If I Asked You, an experimental theater piece that blends the imagery of the Chinese zodiac with the language of Greek myth. The play premiered at The Tank in New York City and had many layers addressing the current social contexts: Inequalities, and the American-Asian identity, among others. Cynthia mentioned it was very important for her and an honor to work on an original play that relates to her identity.

She also performed at the Unfix NYC Festival in New York City. The festival was devoted to sustainability and activism. Cynthia played leading roles in two plays performed at the festival, The Giving Tree and Grown Up. In The Giving Tree, which was a physically-told performance, Cynthia played the roles of a musician and a little girl- she enjoyed the challenge of stretching her acting muscles. Grown Up was inspired by The Little Prince and looked at the collective consciousness and the challenge of keeping one’s inner child alive. As an imaginative person, Cynthia really enjoyed diving into the world of childhood and wonder. Performing at the Unfix NYC Festival was an opportunity for her to do something that truly excited her: acting in shows that blend traditional theatre with experimental forms, dance, visual, or video arts.

In January 2022, she played the role of Mischa in the play American Standard produced by Ren Gyo Soh and directed by Saki Kawamura. The play touches on important societal issues. We follow a hockey team composed of teenage girls living in rural Alaska. Their lives are disturbed when a boy from their community shows up to their game and shoots a relative. Cynthia played Mischa, a 14-year-old girl suffering from PTSD who is wise beyond her years. She mentions that the role also had a big impact on her, and she felt proud to play such a critical role in a play that could spark a direct dialogue with the audience.

Fig 2. Cynthia as 'Hope' in the play “An Infinite Ache,” created by David Schulner and directed by Michael Blatt. The play was produced by Little Red Light Theater and presented at the Desotelle NuBox Theater in New York City on December 2022

Cynthia connects with powerful stories. “When I read a really heartfelt play or see a good show, that always empowers me a lot. I especially feel connected to plays that involve Asian American or immigrant stories because of my background. And being able to see more theatre, films, and tv shows like Everything Everywhere All at Once receiving good audiences really empowers me. It’s telling me that we are finally being seen." She is excited to participate in projects that are changing the media canon to allow more diverse voices.

She worked on several film projects which screened on the international festival circuit. Ten Months is a huis-clos drama set during the pandemic. Lydia, played by Cynthia, is stuck with her mother for ten months as they quarantine. Lydia has been living in the US for many years and finds herself trapped in her NYC apartment with her mother visiting from China. A cultural and generational clash ensues. Cynthia related to the character on a personal level. She feels grateful to portray characters whose humanity and feelings she can relate to. The film went around the world and screened at the 18th Reel Heart International Film Festival, The DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, and Shanghai International Short Week.

Actors are vessels for humanity’s infinity of feelings. It is a sacred job, but Cynthia is hardworking. It also requires diving head-first into adversity and developing resilience. “This is not an easy path. It requires a lot of willingness and dedication, and it goes so deep it can be scary sometimes,” she explains. However, the challenges also bring a lot of joy, and this is what she encourages aspiring actors to focus on: “Be honest with yourself and always search for the truth. Be non-judgemental to yourself and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and just be. It should be fun and liberating,” she adds. She is grateful to do her dream job every day and make a meaningful impact on her industry.

Cynthia has a busy year ahead and is excited about it. In May, she will be performing in a play called He is A Cage at Lenfest Center for the Arts. You can also catch her on the big screen at CineAsian Films, where the film she is starring in, Ten Months, will be screening.





Other articles
bottom of page