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While the University of Delaware is usually always a joyful place overall, Saturday, April 13th was a particularly Gleeful night. Why was this so? 200+ members of the UD community, including this overly excited blogger, were treated to a lecture about diversity from actor/dancer Harry Shum, Jr. of Fox’s renowned hit musical dramedy.
The event was put on by a combination of three RSOs on campus: Haven, Hola, and SCPAB. Held in the Trabant MPRs, hundreds of fans came out to hear Harry Shum talk about diversity and the role it has played in his life. Shum was born and raised in Costa Rica to Chinese parents before moving to California later in his life to pursue his career in dancing. He has been featured in many films, two of my favorites being Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, and is an active dancer and choreographer for The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (The LXD), a premier dance troupe. However, he is most known for his role as Mike Chang for the last four seasons on Glee.
Considering his character on the first season was almost mute, Shum had no problem cracking the jokes and talking for the entire night. While interlaying the important issue of diversity in popular culture today, Shum mainly focused on telling how he started in dance, his experiences with acting and dancing roles thus far, and the everyday occurrences at Glee. Fun fact: he started dancing because of a dare to join the dance team at his high school. It clearly was a smart dare for him to do, considering it eventually led him to dance on tour with Beyoncé before his stunt on Glee. Besides dancing, Shum is also a gifted actor. He even did an interpretation of Robin Williams’ famous Good Morning, Vietnam monologue.
However, Shum did provide some wonderful insights on the overall theme of diversity for the night. He urged the entire audience to create our own stereotypes instead of contributing to preexisting diverse groups. He believes that the only way to stop the obvious division among people in our society is to be open for new ways of grouping people together. This idea is what he believes will propel our generation farther in the future than society is today.
After finishing his talk, Shum surprised the audience with an impromptu dance solo to end the night. Being a dancer myself, I was hoping he would dance at some point during the night, and he did not disappoint! I do not know about the rest of the audience, but I certainly was in a sense of awe watching him dance. To top off the night, he even stayed for a meet and greet after, during which he willingly took pictures and signed autographs, and even listened to a girl sing him a song.
Personally, it was such a successful night that I hope SCPAB, Hola, and Haven can try and do something like this by bringing in a celebrity to UD for a topical lecture more often. Now that we’ve had Harry Shum come to UD, who would you like to see come to UD for a lecture?