Paul Kwo – From Hong Kong to Hollywood
“My phone just exploded with all my friends who went and watched it!”
“As long as you study something passionate in, you’ll find work; you’ll make it through your life.”
- Paul moved to SGV from Hong Kong at a young age.
- Paul enjoyed the USA more than Hong Kong, a sentiment not shared by his mother.
- Paul got into acting after debate class in high school to get out of French class.
- Paul went to USC for his Bachelor’s and Masters’s degrees.
- Paul got into the movie series “Gods Not Dead.”
- Paul started his own school to help students break into the entertainment industry.
Russell and Scott with someone who has been on the show before. They took their career and added actors on top of everything else they do. Joining the SGV on episode 100 is Paul Kwo.
What is your own business?
Paul owns Pop Rock Academy. They offer acting-facing music and performing arts-related classes. They show all students, young and old, how to break into the industry.
Are you a member of SAG?
Paul started acting in the union around 2008- 2009. He worked in acting several years before in order to get his SAG card. It’s a catch-22 for most, how to get a SAG card when you need hours to get the card but you have a hard time working to get the SAG without one.
Paul and his academy help people around this same catch-22.
What was your childhood like in the San Gabriel Valley?
Paul’s dad moved to SGV first about 6 months beforehand, and then Paul, his brother, and his mother joined him from Hong Kong in 1989. Paul was an adolescent when they made the move.
Paul’s dad actually got his chance to come to America because he signed up for Seminary school. Paul’s mom was not the happiest when it came to moving because she liked her job as a nurse in Hong Kong.
Paul’s dad got into a car accident that totaled his car, and that was the catalyst for the move.
He lived in San Gabriel since then.
He went to college at USC for his Bachelors’s and Master’s degrees. Even though he lived on campus, he was still making the commute every weekend to teach piano.
Paul only really started acting in high school as a way to quit French class and switch to his English class. He switched his classes around to drop the one he didn’t want and pick up the calmer English class. It turned out he made the best decision for him.
What was the San Gabriel Valley like when you came here as a child?
It was a stark change for Paul because he came from the huge city of Hong Kong. The comparison was almost night and day. He was surprised because there were no high risers, and he was completely caught off guard.
After Paul’s brother and his mother landed, their father took them to a Chinese restaurant, and Paul’s mother was extremely upset. She hated the food, and after a year of searching for something better, they found that the first restaurant was the best.
The food in the area has evolved so much since then and is now world-class.
Did you feel like you integrated quickly into the culture?
It took Paul some time to integrate but not too long. Paul and his brother really enjoyed American school. There was a lot of homework in Hong Kong, but comparatively, America was not bad at all.
He also felt that the children accepted him in America because there were a lot of other Asian children. Paul had a bit of a language barrier, but it was also minimal because he had been studying English in Hong Kong.
Did you enjoy drama?
Paul loved debate and speech and really enjoyed that. However, they somewhat squashed some of Paul’s theatrics, but in drama, they praised him for it and was cast in all the performances.
The drama was part of his father’s church life, too; Paul would help organize church plays and play music for the church where his father was the pastor.
One performance after his schooling was in the movie series “God’s Not Dead.” He was in all 4 parts as a character who went to school with the main character.
What does your school offer?
They are in Temple City, and they mainly offer classes in dance, music, acting, and some writing classes. They are mostly for kids, but they do offer classes for adults. They have classes for professionals and for people who are looking for help non professionally.
They really focus on helping young students who want to break into the industry. They teach students the process of finding an agent. How to succeed in the film industry. The fundamentals of the industry.
- Monrovia Old Town shopping area Murtal Ave
- U 2 cafe on Valley Blvd
- The Huntington Library
Paul Kwo has worked on numerous film, TV shows, video games, and more, both on camera and as a voice talent. His most notable work is his role as Matin Yip in the blockbuster film franchise God’s Not Dead. He has also worked on hit movies such as Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Turning Red, American-Born Chinese, Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and many more. He also works as a commercial voice-over director.
Paul released his first solo vocal album, “When The Stars Are Out,” in the Spring of 2016. His music has been featured in the God’s Not Dead franchise. He has also released 6 solo piano freestyle improv albums and a Christmas instrumental album. He has also directed numerous music programs in the Los Angeles area and has performed on the piano with critically acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, international pop singer Wei Wei and many more. His original compositions have won numerous awards, including ERMMedia’s Masterworks of the New Era Volume Ten, New York Youth’s Symphony’s 2005 First Music Competition, and more. Visit kwomusic.com for complete information on his instrumental music.
Paul opened his performing arts school PopRock Academy in 2011 and has been educating a new generation of actors, dancers, and musicians. His students have been in notable productions such as the Red Light, Green Light doll from Squid Game, various Pixar, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Disney, ABC projects, and countless commercials. He is also the current President of the San Gabriel Educational Foundation, helping the students of the San Gabriel Unified School District.