Kian Talan Re-centers His Mind and Finds a New Passion in Acting
Written by Vaughn Eric Stewart
Photography by Frank Louis
Stylist: Mike Stallings
Kian Talan is a fun, energetic actor, with positive energy exuding from his pours. He also has a new take on life and his acting career, making him a much happier person. Cool America Magazine sat down with one of the new stars of NCIS: Hawai’i to find out a little more about him.
How did you get involved in acting?
I always felt drawn to acting and storytelling, but I never thought I could be an actor. It was definitely just a dream for a long time. I didn’t take any acting classes until after I graduated college. I moved out to NYC for a job and became surrounded by so many artists and creatives that pushed me to try acting. So, I took a 2-year conservatory program which kind of jump-started my passion for this craft.
You’ve been busy the last few years. Do you feel you’re finding your voice?
Definitely, as I start to work more in this industry, I realize the responsibility my voice has to other Filipino-Americans. I’ve come a long way. I used to be shy, reserved, and very closed off when I was a kid, so it took me a while to find the voice I have now. Now, I know that I have a unique perspective that is something to share. I’m excited to grow that voice as time goes on; I don’t think it’s something you stop working on.
If you had to give an aspiring actor/actress one word of advice, what would it be?
You’ll never grow if you’re too worried about pleasing others.
“I came back into the industry not to please others but to please my craft.”
Tell us about the show NCIS: Hawai’i and your character Alex.
NCIS: Hawai’i is the newest addition to the NCIS franchise. I play Alex Tennant, who is the son of Jane Tennant (played by Vanessa Lachey), the first female lead of this franchise. Alex is a smart, loyal, and determined kid who is just trying to figure out his new family dynamic. His parent’s divorce forces him to grow up, and the pressure causes him not to make the best decisions.
What drew you to the part?
I grew up in a similar situation as Alex. My parents divorced when I was younger, and I had a strong, independent, single mother who was very committed to her job. Right away, I knew who this character was, and I was excited to bring my perspective to this role. I was also drawn to the fact that they were looking for a Filipino actor to play Alex. Though-out my acting journey as a Filipino-American, it has been very rare to get the opportunity to play a Filipino-American character. It might seem like a small thing for some people, but it was a big deal for me. When I got the audition from my managers, I was eager to put my name in the mix for this role.
Are you involved in other projects right now?
I’m focusing on NCIS: Hawai’i, but I am in talks with many other Filipino creatives, and hopefully, this will bring more opportunities to tell more Filipino stories in the future.
Of all the characters that you’ve played, what character do you most identify with?
I fully identify with all the characters I play. What I’ve learned from my mentor/acting teacher Diana Castle is that every character I play is a part of me. Even the parts of myself that I might not know or like. I truly believe that in acting, you’re really giving out your soul to whatever character you play and that it’s not hard to relate to someone if you show empathy towards them.
What character kept you up at night?
Every single character I’ve ever played. I spend a lot of time living in thoughts and the worlds of the characters I portray. When I’m fully in it, I catch myself daydreaming from the character’s perspective. It probably sounds like a very weird experience to non-actors, but it excites me. I like to keep an open mind and let my curiosity flow when I work on characters.
How have your family and friends reacted to your life as an actor?
To be honest, I kept it a secret for a while. Last year, I was very close to booking this big project and kept my friends/family in the loop during the entire casting process. When I didn’t get it, I had to tell everyone, which made not getting it even worse. So I told myself I wouldn’t share any more acting news with anyone until I got an offer. This industry is so unpredictable, so you can’t really take anything as a done deal. For NCIS: Hawai’i, I didn’t even tell them I was auditioning. When I told them I booked it, though, they were very excited and proud of me.
What do you think you would be doing if you didn’t act?
I got my degree in Computer Science and was actually working as a Developer until I booked NCIS: Hawai’i. So I would probably still be doing that, working a normal 9-5 job, but I don’t think I would have ever fully stopped trying to pursue acting. Acting is my true passion, and I couldn’t picture my life without this creative expression.
On a different subject — how did the impact of Covid affect you? Do you look at the world differently?
Honestly, COVID was the best thing to happen to my mentality and acting career. Before COVID, I was pushing through and too worried about pleasing everyone with my craft. COVID allowed me to take a break from acting, one that I probably wouldn’t have taken myself. During this time, I re-centered my mind and was reminded why I love the craft. I came back into the industry not to please others but to please my craft, and when I started doing that, I saw movement in my career.
Is there a person in your life that will always be real to you no matter how successful you become?
I don’t think any success I gain in this industry will affect my younger brother Carlo. I will always be the same in his eyes, and I love that. He is also at an age where nothing really affects him, and he knows how to keep me humble. I’ve been definitely taking inspiration from his behavior and throwing it into Alex on NCIS: Hawai’i.
“I stick out like a sore thumb when I wear all black in Hawaii”
What do you like to do alone in your spare time?
Watch Film/TV, write, read, daydream, volleyball, work out. I’m a very introverted person, so I really love the time I get to be alone and just do something creative or active.
What’s something you like to do with friends?
I’m from NYC, so a pretty common thing is just to go to a coffee shop and just connect. Many of my friends are actors, so we can talk about the craft and business for hours. I’m also more of a low-key person. I like to be in one-on-one environments with no distractions so I can really listen and get to know more of someone. Everyone has an interesting story to tell; you just have to keep your ears and mind open.
What’s your daily routine to stay healthy — physically, mentally, and spiritually?
I work out every day, sometimes twice a day. It really helps clear my head because it’s the only time of day where I don’t need to think. Also, I try to eat healthily. I love to cook even though I’m not good at it. I do, however, make some mean eggs.
We are a fashion/celebrity magazine. What’s your fashion style?
I’ll wear anything black. It’s pretty funny because I stick out like a sore thumb when I wear all black in Hawaii. As for my style, it kind of varies depending on mood. I can get into streetwear, athleisure wear, more polished.
Any favorite designers?
Moncler, Stone Island, Rag & Bone, Tom Ford, Alo, LuluLemon, Hugo Boss, Theory…
We are called Cool America. What do you find cool about America?
We don’t settle. We fight for what we believe in. We fight for what’s right, and we constantly challenge perspective and are open to conversations. What’s happening in Afghanistan has definitely opened my eyes to how lucky I am to be in this country. I think it’s easy to take it for granted, and I hope it opens the eyes of everyone in our country.
What do you find cool about yourself?
There is no one else on this planet like me. Being a Filipino kid from New Hampshire, it took me a while to realize the power of being unique. I used to be ashamed of it, but now I know I have a different perspective and story to share with the world.