ASU student David Bloom co-stars in new Disney+ series 'American Born Chinese'
Arizona State University student David Bloom is blossoming as an actor in a new Disney+ action-comedy series that airs this week.
Bloom has a co-starring role in “American Born Chinese,” a new coming-of-age adventure featuring Academy Award-winning actors Michelle Yeoh and Key Huy Quan, as well as a large Asian-American cast. It’s based on a 2006 graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, a book that has often been recommended to teachers for instruction. It debuts on May 24.
“Being involved in this production has been a dream, the kind of job you hope to land in this business,” said Bloom, a student in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “This show gives me a lot of momentum, which is cool. It’s been quite a year.”
Indeed, it has. Before he started filming “American Born Chinese,” Bloom landed a role in 2022’s “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” an $8 million production featured on the Roku Channel. More recently, he wrapped on “Screams from the Tower,” a gay coming-of-age comedy in which Bloom will receive top billing.
“American Born Chinese” tells the story of Jin Wang, an average teenager juggling his high-school social life with his home life. When he meets Wei-Chen, a new Chinese exchange student on the first day of the school year, even more worlds collide as Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods. According to Disney+, the action-comedy also explores issues of identity, culture and family.
Bloom plays a character named Josh, who he describes as a “fun but loveable idiot who’s trying to fit in and be cool, but it’s not working.”
On a personal level, it's definitely working for Bloom. In 2019, he was an Arizona State University freshman, living on the Downtown Phoenix campus, studying sports broadcasting. And he loved every minute of it.
“When I enrolled at ASU, I had been acting since I was about 10 and needed a break,” said Bloom, whose first acting credit dates to 2012 when he appeared in “CSI: NY." “I’m like, ‘OK, acting … I’m done. I don’t wanna do it anymore.’ I got a little fed up with the business.”
It’s not like Bloom had constant rejection or doors slammed in his face. He had landed some big parts before he came to college. He worked on the Amazon series “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street” for two seasons and on “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” for Netflix.
While these shows looked good on his resume, Bloom said he felt as if he weren’t getting any traction in the business. As high-school graduation loomed large, he wanted a change.
Bloom said he was a sports enthusiast while growing up, and the Cronkite School was the only university at the time with a sports journalism degree. He was accepted and moved into Taylor Place at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus in fall 2019.
“I’ve always been good in front of a camera, and everything felt very natural,” Bloom said. “I really got into what I was doing with sports hosting, sports talk, sports debate, sports writing and sports analysis. I really had a good understanding of what it was like to be modern journalist. More important, I enjoyed it and liked what I was doing.”
Bloom also forged some strong friendships while at ASU, including with Jaycen Sussman, also a journalism major.
“We first met in Agoura Hills in California for a few lunches before we became roommates at ASU,” Sussman said.
He said Bloom had terrific charisma and was very knowledgeable about the sports world.
“David was very confident in front of a camera, and he could have been very successful in sports journalism or acting,” Sussman said. “I’m very happy that he’s found success.”
Bloom finished his first year at ASU and planned to move into an apartment with Sussman for the next semester. Then COVID-19 struck, and Bloom moved back to Los Angeles in 2020.
“After the pandemic hit, I was at home on Zoom doing standups in my blazer in front of my wall," Bloom said. “It wasn’t the same.”
Still, Bloom made the best of it, according to Jordan Hamm.
“He had a great attitude throughout the entire semester in an extremely far from ideal learning situation,” said Hamm, who teaches sports videography at the Cronkite School. “In a short amount of time, David grew a ton as a videographer and that was a credit to his hard work each and every class.”
Bloom was also a student of John Walters, who taught an Introduction to Sports Reporting class in fall 2020.
Walters said that Bloom’s personality and emotional intelligence was a good fit for sports journalism and broadcasting.
“(David) reads people well and has a strong emotional intelligence, which you can’t really teach. ... People feel comfortable around him because he’s warm and he’s interested,” Walters said.
While he was filming his standups for his classes at the Cronkite School, Bloom felt it was a good time to also film and send out audition tapes for acting jobs. Almost immediately, he got a call back from the people who cast “American Born Chinese.”
“I had read the book my sophomore year of high school, and I was like, ‘Oh, cool. I know this story,’” Bloom said. “I did this whole monologue for this other character, filmed it on tape and sent it in, and moved on. They called me back and said they wanted me to read for this other character named Josh and I laughed and said, ‘Sure.’ So, I go back and go in front of the network and read for the part, and afterward the person doing the hiring said, ‘You want it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I want to be in the show.’”
Bloom spent eight weeks filming in Los Angeles during summer 2022. Not much ended up on the cutting room floor. He’s an integral part of the series and is on a break from his academic studies to take advantage of his new career momentum, but plans to return.
“Right now, I’m taking time to focus on my acting career and where life is taking me,” Bloom said. “I’m enjoying being an adult actor, but I also have the confidence in myself to come back to college and finish my degree when the time is right. I know it’s there for me and that I’m capable.”
Top photo from iStock.com.