Interviews Jimmy Wong of "Polaris Primetime"

Published on November 20th, 2017 | by Darren Paltrowitz


“Polaris Primetime” host Jimmy Wong on working with Disney and success on the Internet

Since gaining national traction via a video that he uploaded to YouTube in 2011, Jimmy Wong has become a popular actor, musician, podcaster and television personality. Wong’s success not only shows through his strong numbers on social media, but also through his winning of two Streamy Awards and an International Academy of Web Television Award; these three honors came from Wong’s work on the web series Video Game High School. In addition, Wong is considered a top authority within the gaming world, hosting the new Disney gaming show Polaris Primetime and co-hosting The Command Zone podcast with Josh Lee Kwai; he also hosts a cooking show, Feast Of Fiction

On behalf of The Hype Magazine, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Jimmy Wong while he was traveling abroad in China. Beyond the various projects mentioned above, Wong is also the co-founder of the marketing company Koko Collective, meaning there is always something brewing from the Seattle native. Follow Jimmy Wong on Twitter via @JFWong.

You are an actor, a musician, a host… How do you like to describe what it is you do for a living?

Jimmy Wong: Ultimately I think I’d call myself a content creator. I have a strong focus on education and social activism with the work I do. One of my ultimate goals in my career is to change the representation for Asians in Hollywood, whether it’s through my work as an actor, musician, and — hopefully — role model for up and coming performers, or as a teacher and mentor as a host.

When did it become obvious to you that this was a career for you and not just a series of good breaks or one-off projects? Was it when Video Game High School took off?

Jimmy Wong: Video Game High School was truly an incredible blessing in my career, not many actors can say that a role was written specifically for them and they also helped shape it over multiple seasons. VGHS was essentially my first really big project as an actor, and I definitely got spoiled a bit being able to work so closely with my family and friends. With my brother being one of the directors and my roommates the writers, I got to witness up close and personal the entire process from the initial birth of the idea to the day we hit upload on the last episode.

However, to answer your question, I don’t think this show still solidified to me that what I was doing was really something I could base a career off of. Acting is fickle in that way — the checks you get from jobs are sometimes so sporadic and inconsistent that it doesn’t feel like you could ever make a stable living off of it. For me there hasn’t ever been a single point where I can look back and go “yup, this is my life now,” but instead it’s a culmination of a few things; getting a consistent Adsense check in the mail from my YouTube videos, being Taft-Hartleyed into SAG as an actor, being flown out to host a show in another city, or walking down my first red carpet. It all blurs together at a certain point!

If you weren’t working within entertainment, any idea what you would be doing instead? Teaching?

Jimmy Wong: Definitely some form of teaching or social activism. I am a deeply empathetic person and I want to leave this world a better place than it was when I was born into it. I think my work would definitely involve something with Asian-Americans as well. One way or another, I would have found my way to wanting to bring about change for equal representation.

Is there a career accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Jimmy Wong: I would say the single most important accomplishment was a detail about my role as Ted in Video Game High School. In the show, Ted is in a relationship with another character Ki, pronounced “key.” They share on-screen kisses as well as a long relationship arc over three seasons. Ted is Asian, Ki is White. What’s important to me is that neither of their races are ever brought up in the entirety of the show. They are simply in a relationship. Asian men have been consistently portrayed in Hollywood and entertainment as side characters, backup roles, and rarely as leading men. Go back and try to remember — when is the last time you saw an Asian male kiss someone on-screen in a movie? Do you remember Jackie Chan or Jet Li ever being anything but a martial artist? Were they ever physically intimate with another human on screen?

Humans will subliminally learn when they watch and engaging with content. For me growing up, I never saw Asians as strong leading men because there just were no examples to look up to. Most often they were simply dudes that could kick a lot of butt, but never get the girl. Having my character be in a relationship with someone in the show and not ever focusing attention on their different races is absolutely huge in this subliminal way. These are just two humans that love each other and are in a relationship. There’s no extra attention brought to their race, and I can 100% with certainty say that if I was able to watch these two characters as a child, it would have made a big difference in my life and bolster my confidence into pursuing the dream of acting and entertainment. The credit for this progressive and intelligent relationship of course goes to the writers and show runners for making this a reality.

I’ve heard that you are currently working on an upcoming project for Disney. What can you tell me about that? Any other upcoming projects you can talk about?

Jimmy Wong: I actually have a few things that are upcoming! I recently finished filming seven episodes of a brand new gaming show called Polaris Primetime, which is an awesome mashup of video games, special guests, and SNL-style digital shorts. Those episodes already aired on DXP, which is Disney XD’s new nightly block of content that is all centered around video games. After we finished the show, I formed my own marketing company Koko Collective, and we produced over 30 pieces of custom content for DXP, including tons of really fun behind the scenes segments we did on set. And on top of all of that, I did just recently audition for an unnamed live action Disney remake that would be an absolute dream role to play, but I don’t want to say anything else about it. As an actor, you quickly learn to never count your chickens before they hatch.

I’ve also got another movie in the works that hasn’t been announced yet, but the cast I’m working with is definitely checking off some bucket list items of mine. You’ll hear about it across all my social medias when I get to talk about it! Plus, keep an ear out for Koko Collective. We’ve got some really exciting news soon that should turn some heads. 

Is there something you wish more people knew about Jimmy Wong?

Jimmy Wong: I refuse to use auto-correct on my phone.

When not busy with your career, how do you spend your free time?

Jimmy Wong: I love watching movies, playing video games, and walking my dog. It’s funny though, since all of those — dog aside — are essentially market research for my career, so there’s a good chance that I am actually just constantly busy with my career. Travel is also something that is very important to me. I’m writing this interview from a hotel in Shanghai!

As a musician, what’s been your favorite album of 2017?

Jimmy Wong: I’m a big fan of Post Malone, and if he’s going to drop an album around his last single, then I’m already voting it to be my favorite of the year. Outside of that, I gotta give it up for Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. It’s close to a masterpiece of work.

Finally, Jimmy, any last words for the kids?

Jimmy Wong: There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Statistically speaking, you’re going to be spending the vast majority of your life not in school, so don’t let the unnecessary drama, cliques, and whatever other bullshit arises get you down. You’re so much more than all of that! Also, if someone’s trying to gauge their coolness based on how many followers they have, you can — with my authority as someone with “a lot of followers” — ignore them entirely. That sort of stuff should have zero bearing on who someone really is as a person. Don’t get caught up in that game, because at the end of the day there are really no winners. That being said, you should totally follow me on Twitter @jfwong.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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