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Popular Guy: Dallas Liu


Oct 19, 2020

Last month, Hulu release the second season of its hit Asian American coming-of-age story, Pen15.

Created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, the series was a standout hit as the creators portrayed themselves navigating the halls of middle school, but not without the advice of an older brother figure. Played by Dallas Liu, Shuji is the cooler older brother, dismantling previously set Asian American stereotypes one graphic tee at a time.

The eighth-grade aficionado can also be seen in the Snapchat young-adult series “Players” as well as on the silver screen in the drama short Ella where Dallas switches roles and becomes the younger brother.

The LA native is trained and MMA and also got a chance to show the scales off on screen when he portrayed Jin Kazama in the Tekken film franchise. Popular TV  caught up with Dallas to talk about season two and what storyline he like to see Shuji take on.


1. Congrats on Season 2! What can you tell us about Shuji and where he is right now?

Shuji is Maya’s cool older brother who may seem like the typical mean older brother, but actually loves her to death and is only looking out for her. Right now, he is probably just doing his own thing and hanging out with his friends.


2. How would you compare your experience playing insert name here to other roles you’ve played?

I think Shuji has by far been the easiest role I’ve gotten to work on compared to others. The reason being is that I have a younger brother and we have about the same age difference as Maya and Shuji. So really I ended up using the relationship between my brother and me to play the younger version of myself when I was in middle school. I was nowhere near as cool as Shuji in middle school, but I definitely was always hard on my brother and teasing him because I didn’t want him to go through what I did every day. I wanted him to be mentally tougher than me. 


3. What current modern-day item or technology would you take back to your middle school days?

I wish I could’ve taken my current iPhone back to middle school. I feel like our current phones are capable of so much more than we’ve ever thought. I mean if you think about it we live our whole lives through technology and can do almost anything you can think of just by tapping a screen. 


4. What was your best memory from filming this season?

When I got to have a talk with Maya about her being a brat, that scene really resonated with my brother and me. I’ve probably had that talk with him multiple times and I still do to this day lol.


5. What is a storyline you’d like to see with Shuji?

I hope that we get to see Shuji’s day to day middle school life. I think it’d be a fun episode to see what Shuji deals with on a daily basis and maybe his relationships with his friends.


6. As an actor, do you ever find yourself taking pieces of your characters back home with you?

Absolutely. I mean at the end of the day we’re all people who are just trying to become the best versions of ourselves and I think sometimes when you resonate with a character, understand what they’re going through, and learn their backstory, you try and apply to your own life to help out yourself. 


7. Was acting something that called to you over time more than other artistic avenues or did you just know at some point?

Acting definitely had called to me over time. I started in middle school and at the time I just thought of it as something different and fun. But during my time in high school I realized that if I worked hard enough at this, I could possibly make a career out of it.


8. Is there a role or dream that you’re currently chasing?

I mean obviously I’d love to star in a feature film and create a successful career in this industry, but I also really want to bring an anime to life the right way. I’ve seen a lot of anime shows being brought to life, but they never really seem to get the job done. I’d love to take part in one whether it’s a film or TV show. 


9. Across the entertainment industry, more stories from people of color are being told. What is a story you’d like to see told and what role would you want to be in it?

I’d like to see a story about an Asian that doesn’t speak his family’s language living in America. And I would love to play the main role. I’m Chinese and Indonesian and I don’t speak either of the languages. Although I’m 100% Asian I don’t really fit into a category. It feels like I’m almost too Asian to be American, but too American to be Asian if that makes any sense.


10. Being a part of ‘Gen Z’, what are you tired of hearing about “your generation”? 

I think the most annoying thing I’ve heard about us is that we are lazy. Yes we haven’t faced the same problems as our previous generations, but I feel like that’s because we have our own. The increase of technological abilities has definitely impacted us because of how easily accessible it is, but I also feel like we’ve been able to create so many new and different avenues that we can take in our life. I feel like we don’t have to follow the routes that our predecessors took to make something out of our lives and to find purpose. 


11. What gets you up in the morning?

My family definitely keeps me going. They have done so much for me and continue to support me every day in life. I hope to give them the life that they deserve because I feel that if I keep working and studying, I will be able to make it to the top and make them happy.


12. Your biggest virtue? Vice?

I carry loyalty with me everywhere I go. It’s probably one of the most important qualities of a person in my opinion. My biggest vice would probably be my trust issues. I don’t really cut people off. I just sort of feel the energy I’m receiving and if I feel like a person doesn’t want me in their life, I just distance myself slowly without saying anything. 


13. Shuffle all your music. What are the first five songs that come up?

“Been Away” – Brent Faiyaz, “Rollerblades” – Dominic Fike, “Dmtri” – Action Bronson, “Sum 2 Prove” – Lil Baby, “Heartbreak Anniversary” – Giveon


Keep up with Dallas Liu on Instagram @dallasliu!



  • Photographer Jonny Marlow
  • Groomer Nathaniel Dezan
  • Stylist Adam Ballheim