Writing is the one thing in my life I cannot live without. My favorite element happens to be writing characters. People are such fascinating characters. Yet there seems to be more time spent watching actors embody such fleshed out characters than connecting with our peers in the same way. So in an effort to begin restoring that connection amongst my fellow peers, in an effort to get below the surface and really get to know those around us, in an effort for young insight that can inspire us all…
Actress, Julia Ling has taken over Hollywood the Write Way to connect with the world as herself and not as the many characters she has played over the years on Chuck, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and more. Julia Ling has written a beautiful piece that analyzes and reflects on her passions in life. She has also incorporated never before seen photographs into her piece.
Ladies and gentlemen, Julia Ling has officially taken Hollywood the Write Way to the next level.
Written by Julia Ling
Dancing is the one thing in my life I cannot live without. Well, that and sushi. Moving to the music is one thing; anybody can be taught the technical moves of a dance with enough practice. But really putting the heart and soul into a dance, that’s when everything comes to life and the greatest joys can be experienced.
A true dancer at heart is an artist constantly seeking to create a live visual art in motion form from using every part of the body. The stage is the canvas. The human body is the medium, and the dancer is the painter at heart.
I remember performing my very first solo. I was eight years old, a tiny and frail little girl. I was very shy and had the worst stage fright that evening. There were hundreds of people in the audience, waiting to watching something beautiful. I was so sure I’d mess up or not be good enough.
I ran out to the stage and sat into my starting swan pose. And suddenly the stage was breathtakingly silent. It was almost scary. I was so nervous my arms were trembling.
But then the music came on and I drifted with it off to another world. And I suddenly felt like a swan princess by the enchanted lake underneath the soft moonlight. In my active imagination, the music took me to a beautiful and serene lake where I splashed around, looked for flowers, then followed the voices of my little fairy friends because I was curious what they were giggling about. It wasn’t until the very end of the song when everybody applauded and cheered that I snapped out of that dream I was dancing.
I am still a very shy girl in many ways. But as soon as I think about the dance, I forget about reality. It’s almost like flying in pure bliss to beautiful music.
I performed a lot of Chinese dances when I was growing up. You know, the stuff you see in Shen Yun and other Chinese show extravaganzas (For an example, see here). There’s the ribbon dance, the fans, the umbrellas, the long sleeves. I release all my emotions in my dance just as I do when I paint. The joy, the serenity, the melancholy, the frustrations. And there is always a story to tell in the dance. The props are continually evolving as Art changes with time and society, so there are always new artistic expressions to discover through dancing.
I started martial arts in my early 20s because I wanted to get stronger and learn self defense. I learned to use weapons, both contemporary and traditional. I learned to fire guns and rifles. I love challenge in both martial arts and dance, and I will give nothing less than 100% focus and discipline.
I often train 5-6 hours a day. There are mornings I’m so sore I cannot get out of bed, but I did anyway. Sometimes my coaches and I went to the beach or the mountains we would train under the midnight moon or on the sand. And of course, part of the journey of discipline and training is having my fair share of injuries. I’ve broken my left elbow and injured myself many times, but I kept going.
I really pushed myself to my limit physically and mentally. Sometimes I hurt so much I cried. Sometimes I was just so frustrated I cried. But I am very glad I pushed myself. I am a stronger person because of all the training. I used to be very weak and sick when I was younger. But I also grew as a person. I learned to love my body. I learned to understand the kind of love and nourishment that our bodies need. I started to realize the amazing things we humans are capable of. Through intense training, I’ve learned to find peace, love and joy in ways I never thought possible.
When I was a little girl, my family and I watched many Chinese kung fu movies together. My friends made fun of the movies and called them “wire fu”, because the characters were always flying from tree to tree and doing all sorts of funny flips onto the roofs and walls. Well, Wire-Fu didn’t really impress me because it’s impossible, right? Or so I thought, until a series of events changed my mind forever.
I met a few people who trained in Kung Fu, Tai Chi and other martial arts. I witnessed them survive crazy things they’re not supposed to survive. One of my them fell off a building from the third story, and he did not have so much as a crack in his bone. Because of all his training, he knew how to fall and roll, and his strength and flexibility prevented injuries from the impact.
In the 2007 Jackie Chan Disciples show, I met Xin Wuku, better known as “The Urban Ninja”, and his team, the EMC Monkeys, These boys train really hard, and they really do jump off roofs and do cool flips. We spent a lot of time together and I was introduced to an all new world in the martial arts realm. During the filming of that show, my friend Philip Sahagun (Kungfu Heroes, recently did stunts for Tina Turner and was featured on America’s Got Talent) introduced the concept of the whip as a weapon to me through his performance. His control of his weapons was brilliant to perfection.
At the time, I was exploring other weapons in my own training, including the mace (like from Kill Bill), the spear, tri-sectional and nun-chucks. And while working on the NBC show “Chuck”, I learned to fight with tripods. I was excited at the thought of having a fight scene, but also nervous that I would not be able to pull it off. Those tripods must have been 5 pounds each, and they kept opening up too, which made it even harder to swing, so I had to hold it at the center, which was too big for my tiny hands. Because I am a tiny woman, it felt like swinging two long, heavy hammers.
Stunts expert David Morizot choreographed the fight for me and encouraged me to train. He became a mentor of mine shortly thereafter. “You can pretty much fight with anything. Chairs, Broomsticks, Sausage Links. He said he fought with sausage links before. *laughs*
David is sometimes a man of depth and wisdom but few words. He is always funny, and despite his impressive Hollywood resume, he continues to stay humble and kind. His discipline in martial arts, his great work ethics and his grander-than-life, down-to-earth personality inspired me to take that leap of faith. And after one night of swinging those tripods around and doing countless push ups and upper body training, I was ready to film it.
It was a good feeling to realize I had overcome my fear of fighting with two large, heavy mallet-like tripods. And David, like Xin and Phlilp and my other martial arts friends, proved to me that the sky is the limit. We can do anything through perspiration and perseverance if we put our heart and discipline into it. Even though training continues to be physically demanding and often painful, I always look forward to it, and the thrill makes me feel happy and more alive than ever.
Of course, just like dancing or anything else, the most important first step is taking care of our bodies. I learned to nurture it with healthy foods and love. My martial arts coach had said to me, “Love your body, and it will give you everything you need.”
Body Art Shots
Special Effects Wolfe FX Artists, Josh Counsel and Hanna DeWall
Photographer, Adrian Carr
Magazine Print Shots
Hair Stylist, Ahou Mofid
Makeup Artist, Cindy Miguens
Lashes by Blinkies Eyelashes
Skin Complexion by Spray di Sole
Costume Stylist, Kait Marie
Photographer, Jim Crilly