Photographer | Drew Castaneda
Stylist | Katie Qian
Groomer | Josh Lopez
After working on “Teen Wolf,” “Riverdale” and “13 Reasons Why,” have you discovered the perfect formula for TV mystery-drama?
RB: Wouldn’t say I have a formula, but as far as playing teen jocks on the surface it’s probably down to genetics and keeping in shape … Being tall and keeping in working out consistently can't hurt the chances.
Season 2 of “13 Reasons Why” premiered May 18––can you describe the period leading up to the release?
RB: It’s weird thinking the first season came out a year ago. It feels like it’s been much longer. Thankfully, I was able to shoot another project in the hiatus to take my mind off how nervous I was about the reception of the new season. Doing a lot of promo allowed me to reunite with some of the cast, which was what I needed. It was like seeing family and grounded me before we all jumped into the press tour.
How do you prepare for something so emotionally consuming like “13 Reasons Why”?
RB: Shooting this show is a long process (5-6 months) in a city away from friends and family, so I make sure to take whatever time I can to decompress and mentally prepare for a new season. Once I'm on location, it’s easy to jump into the character, because we are so isolated from our real life. I connect a lot of the emotions with the environment we're in. When I’m surrounded only by my castmates, it's easy to flip the switch. Emotionally, it depends on the script and what my character is going through. After shooting season one, the groundwork for Zach was already laid, so I just dealt with his storyline the way I thought he organically would.
You made a commitment not to date until you were emotionally set––what made you know you were ready?
RB: I think the feeling came when I became completely comfortable with who I was and proud of my quirks and what made me unique. A lot of my hesitation came from insecurities of not knowing completely who I was. I didn't want my development as an artist or a human based on how I thought someone else wanted me to be. Now that I don’t feel like I need to change myself for someone else to like me, I think I'll naturally attract the right person.
Do you have family in Singapore, and how often do you visit?
RB: I don't have family in Singapore, but I do in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Australia. I haven't visited in 10 years, so I'm definitely due for a trip.
“I'm hoping studios will step up to diversity and make other cross sections of the population central characters, who people of all races can relate to.”
How are you changing the stereotype and underrepresentation of minorities in film and TV through acting?
RB: Playing roles that aren't stereotypes. I refuse to further reinforce the idea that ethnic people's lives are dictated by their genetic makeup. After playing enough supporting roles, I'm hoping studios will step up to diversity and make other cross sections of the population central characters, who people of all races can relate to.
Compare your experience filming one of your first roles as Roy on “Two Bedrooms” to your current projects?
RB: At the time of “Two Bedrooms,” I was grateful to be on a set and working, so I put my heart into it. Now, I'm grateful to be a part of such an influential and popular show, so I put my heart into it. The only difference is the scale of the production.