A blog about writing and self publishing

KWL – 229 – Breaking Barriers with Legendary Hollywood Actress Irene Tsu

#229 – Breaking Barriers with Legendary Hollywood Actress Irene Tsu

Actress, artist, and writer Irene Tsu joins us on the podcast this week to discuss her debut memoir, A Water Color Dream: The Many Lives of Irene Tsu. Irene tells us about her life and career as an actor, from a child dreaming of becoming a ballerina to becoming one of the first working Asian-American actors in Hollywood, appearing in films alongside legends such as Elvis, Bette Midler, and Jeff Bridges.

Actress, artist, and writer Irene Tsu joins us on the podcast this week to discuss her debut memoir A Water Color Dream: The Many Lives of Irene Tsu. Irene tells us about her life and career as an actor, from a child dreaming of becoming a ballerina to working on sets in Hollywood with legends such as Elvis, Bette Midler, and Jeff Bridges. Irene also talks to us about her writing and publishing experience, the evolution of the film industry throughout her illustrious career, and what she’s working on next.

  • Irene talks us about her life before Hollywood, growing up across different countries in Asia, auditioning for the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London, and moving to New York with her family
  • She tells us how she got her start as an actor, what her career has been like, and how she has maintained a longstanding and successful career
  • Irene discusses the changes she has experienced in the film industry, from being one of the only working Asian-American actresses to witnessing the evolution of diversity in the industry firsthand, as well as the influence technology has had on the craft of acting
  • She tells us how her memoir came about, from writing down ideas on scraps of paper to publishing her book, and she explains her writing process, how she came up with the title for her memoir, and how she reconstructed her memories for the page
  • Irene tells us what she’s working on next, including new writing projects and two new Netflix series!

Useful Links
A Water Color Dream: The Many Lives of Irene Tsu
Irene’s IMdB
Royal Ballet School
Martha Graham School of Dance
Watch Over the Moon on Netlix
Watch Away on Netflix
Watch Down and Out in Beverly Hills on Prime
Game of Thrones


Born in Shanghai, China to a banker father and a painter mother. The family left for Hong Kong where Irene attended parochial school and studied ballet. At 12 the family immigrated to New York City where Irene attended George Washington HS and Quintano’s School for young professionals and studied ballet and jazz at Carnegie Hall. She was a teenage dancer in Flower Drum Song (1961), directed by Henry Koster who gave her her first speaking role as a teenage prostitute in his next film, Take Her, She’s Mine starring James Stewart which launched her acting career.
Her career spans four decades in most of the popular TV series (50 titles) and 32 feature films.

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