By Sarah Stephens
CW’s ARROW comes roaring back for season two on October 9th at 8pm. Last season, we met the two halves of Oliver Queen’s life: the citizens of Starling City and the mysterious island guests who played a role in creating the Arrow. None did more so than Shado (Celina Jade), daughter of Oliver’s first mentor Yao Fei. Audiences figured out fast that Shado, a Chinese lawyer, isn’t your typical damsel. A master archer and skilled fighter, Shado plays a direct role in honing Oliver’s skills while they work together to leave the island. Even more intriguing, Shado and Oliver share the same dragon tattoo. In season two, fans will learn more about the martial arts maven Shado and who she is to Oliver.
Celina Jade isn’t new to the action scene. Born in Hong Kong, Celina’s father is American Kung Fu star Roy Horan. Celina started training at a young age and took her action fighting skills to the big screen in Hong Kong, staring in Legendary Assassin. Beyond that acting and martial arts, Celina has an extended career in modeling and music.
We shine the spotlight on Celina Jade as she sits down to chat about her character Shado, teases us about what’s next on ARROW and gives a behind the scenes look at filming on an action set like ARROW.
We’re all excited about the new season. Can you tell us a little bit about your character SHADO and what we’re going to see from her this season?
CELINA: Basically with Shado last season, we delved into how she was introduced into the island, her training of Oliver, the little spark that happened between them and all the drama that followed afterward with the death of her father [Yao Fei]. So during the hiatus, five months have passed and Shado and Oliver are actually in a relationship now. So this season, we’re going to see how the love between Shado and Oliver starts to affect their trio with Slade and how it affects their relationship and their teamwork as a whole when it comes to surviving the island. There’s been hinting of pirates for this new season on the island. It’s actually going to be a really exciting, exciting season. I’m shooting along and reading the scripts as we go and it definitely kept me guessing as well and I’m quite shocked by some of the things that do happen. It’s going to be a really cool season for fans to watch and the island is going to get big.
That sounds really exciting. How would you describe this new season? Anything you can tease for us besides pirates?
CELINA: Yeah, I think this season you’re going to see ARROW move a lot towards superheroes. They’re going to introduce a lot more names from the comic books that comic book fans have known for a long time. More bad guys also from the comic books. It’s going to be a really great concoction of all the superheroes from the comic books. Yeah, that’s what I can tease. (laughs)
You mentioned that Oliver and Shado have a relationship that has developed. How’s it been working with Steven Amell and any favorite scenes with him so far?
CELINA: There are but I can’t talk about them! (laughs) There are definitely a few pretty awesome scenes that will be extremely memorable on the island that will happen in season 2. I mean, I really enjoy working with Steven as well as Manu (Slade). They’re really cool people and very different. Manu is very, very, kinda crazy and outgoing and fun. Every time we start a scene, you’ll see Manu do like 50 push-ups and start running. It’s really funny. Like just before we go into a scene because he’s a method actor.
Steven is very kind, he’s very nice and definitely protective. Especially when it comes to doing stunts and fighting and stuff. So he’s given me a lot of great advice because he’s been playing Arrow for a while. I’ve been learning archery, but it’s funny because there’s certain things that you wouldn’t think would happen while you’re shooting, for example, holding a bow and holding it for 15-20 minutes while people are having a conversation. It’s quite difficult. It’s quite exhausting, especially when you have to do take after take from many different angles. And he’s really good at being like ‘Oh, Celina, just relax. We can’t see you in this shot.’ Or [teaching me] how to run with [the bow] to make sure I’m not poking all them in the butt. (laughs)
It’s really fun. The action is just incredible, too. The choreography is great and they’re very creative. The writers are very creative. I literally am just reading, and we just finished episode 7, and I’m reading the scripts and I’m shocked, you know, as I’m reading along. The writers really know how to fix it up and they definitely don’t lack anything in the creativity department.
I know you come from a martial arts history. How is the training for the role of Shado compared to what you’ve worked on in the past?
CELINA: The different training I’m getting is definitely archery. Because I’ve never had to play an archer in any of my old martial art movies. But I have an incredible teacher, Patricia Gonsalves. She’s so cool. She’ll teach you how to shoot walking and talking and sleeping and hanging and running. (laughs) She’s such a cool teacher. It’s actually made me really passionate about archery. Now I have my own personal bow. I’m just waiting for a cover so I can ship it back to Hong Kong or bring it back with me. I’m a bit concerned about immigration stopping me, “This is a weapon. You can’t take it back.” (laughs)
TSA might not like that!
CELINA: Yeah, although I’m thinking of trying to pass it off as art. I have this, like, heart bow and it’s really beautiful. So I’m hoping I can pass it off as art. “But Immigration Officer, I’m just going to hang it on my wall!”
What is it like being one of the strong women characters kicking butt alongside the men on this show?
CELINA: I love it. I think this is a dream role for me. I find it really boring, maybe not boring, but I find it difficult for me to play the subservient girlfriend type of role. I’ve had that problem in the past. I shot a romantic comedy and I was meant to stop a fight between my asshole ex-boyfriend and my best friend and I think I pulled the guy’s arm and he fell to the floor. The director was cracking up and like “Stop, you need to throw a handbag or something at him.” And I don’t know how to do that! I know how to block, defend and stop a fight. I don’t know how to take my purse and slap him in the face. That’s weird to me! It’s a weird action.
This has definitely a dream role for me and I think it’s great that we’re portraying women as an equal to men. You know, because it happens and we do exist. Women like that do exist and it’s really cool to play that strong powerful woman. Even cooler to play someone who helps Oliver find the strength within him to become that hero. So I couldn’t have been luckier when it comes to landing a role on ARROW and landing that role, in particular.
It’s a lot of fun and I love the action. I remember, the director asked me “Are you looking forward to shooting out in the woods? Is there something you don’t look forward to or do you love it?” And I told her, I love it. I really love it. I love the action. I love running around. I love explosions going here and there and the adrenaline and the guns and the shooting and tripping over roots. You know, mastering choreography and walking out, except I trip over roots. (laughs) It’s fun.
Would you say there are any similarities between you and Shado, the martial arts lawyer?
CELINA: I definitely don’t think I’m as kick ass as she is. (laughs) But honestly, I think every person has Shado within them. It’s just a matter of believing and letting it shine through you. In terms of martial arts and stuff, yes there are definitely similarities because we both grew up with fighting skills. In terms of value system, also, yes, there are a lot of similarities. Because she is Chinese and her respect and faith in her father, and believing in him despite being disgraced. It’s a very cultural, Chinese thing. So I do see some similarities. But do I have her courage? No. (laughs) I think I’m a little more fearful. But it’s cool. It’s good to learn a role and be able to learn from your character as well. So I’m learning a lot from Shado.
We saw Yao Fei die at the hands of Fyres at the end of the season and now we’re jumping ahead five months. How is that going to change Shado now?
CELINA: Yes, it definitely does affect her. But I can’t really talk about how it changes her. You will see.
You’ve got a great track record with films overseas in the Asian market. What are the differences filming in the Asian market compared to the US market?
CELINA: It is definitely different. Culturally, it’s very different. In Hong Kong, I’m used to doing a lot of my stunts and fighting and everything. The safety precautions are just as good, but it doesn’t appear to be as good. It’s a much bigger team working over here. I don’t do a lot of my falls and more dangerous stunts because they are very concerned about us getting hurt on set. It really does affect the TV show big time if anybody gets injured. So I am a little bit not used to how quickly action scenes are shot here. For example, when I’m doing a movie in Hong Kong, it can take a week or two weeks to do one action sequence. Whereas here, they do the equivalent of that kind of action sequence in one day. So it is definitely a lot faster and they are very, very safe.
Also, it’s amazing, because we have are unions over here. The maximum I’ve worked on set is probably like 18 hours, whereas in in Hong Kong, the max I’ve worked on set is 36 hours. So it’s really tough. But I think Hong Kong is a really good training ground for actors who are also martial artists. You won’t see me ever complain on ARROW because for me, I’m like “Wow, really??” This is so cool. It’s good work.
I guess the one thing I’m not used to is the weather change. In Hong Kong, it’s not as cold so I don’t really have to warm up that long and I’m pretty limber. I can fight and be very flexible. But here I have to warm up a lot longer because of the cold and I have to keep warming up. Like if I don’t fight for one or two takes, my muscles start to contract and I start to get stiff again because of the cold. So that’s something I have to be aware of to prevent injuries.
I still love working in Asia. It’s a different culture and people interact in a very different way than over here. But I still love both. I think as an actress as well, understanding that culturally I have to portray the character differently here from when I portray it in Asia. I’ll give you an example. Playing an Asian girl in China, let’s say I see Steven topless. There’s no way in hell I can look at him and have the thought go through my mind “Oh, wow. He’s hot.” I would have to quickly look away and go “Oh no, I shouldn’t have seen that,” and be shy and just wipe it out of my brain. Because that’s culturally what an Asian girl would do. Whereas over here, it is very normal to see a guy with a beautiful body and go “Oh wow, he’s hot.” That thought goes through your head.
When I first shot my first Chinese movie, I had exactly that situation, where this actor was showering, I throw a towel over while he’s showering, and I caught a glimpse of him, which was part of the script, and it went through my head “Oh, he’s cute.” And the director said “No, that comes across way too perverted. A Chinese girl would never check him out and say he’s cute. She would be embarrassed and shy and look away and afraid.” So when I portray a character I really have to take into consideration those cultural differences.
One last question. Did I see that you’re tri-lingual?
CELINA: Well, I speak Cantonese and Mandarin. Technically, Cantonese and Mandarin are two different dialects of Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin are bit like Spanish and Italian. It’s like Latin-based but it’s different. So for example, Cantonese we write traditional Chinese, which is very different from simplified Chinese. So somebody who reads traditional cannot understand simplified and someone who reads simplified can’t understand traditional. So I do speak Cantonese, Mandarin and English.
ARROW Season 2 airs Wednesdays at 8PM on The CW (CTV in Canada)
Sarah Stephens’ first and longest running TV addiction is with Days of Our Lives, starting at the age of four. Now a grown-up entertainment and pop culture addict, Sarah lives in Los Angeles where she watches too much TV, chases after all things Disney and writes. Follow her on Twitter @SnowWhite22.