Return to 'Silicon Valley'

Palo Alto native guest stars in season 2 of HBO series

He's not a network security specialist, but he plays one on TV.

When Palo Alto native and rising actor Joshua Chang got an opportunity to audition for the Golden Globe award-nominated HBO comedy, "Silicon Valley," it was "a dream come true."

"It was two of the things I love coming together," Chang explained in a recent phone interview, "my career, and the place I come from."

Next Sunday, May 24, Chang will appear in episode seven of the show's second season as Seth, a tech firm employee. He'll return one week later on May 31 in an episode largely devoted to his character.

Chang grew up on the Midpeninsula, attending Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School

and Gunn High School and going on to study at Stanford University, where he majored in human biology and minored in theater.

"I acted a little with Stanford's Asian American Theatre Project and took one summer class at American Conservatory Theater, but mostly it was a very clandestine thing," Chang said, explaining that he feared his family would disapprove of his interest and pressure him to pursue a career in medicine. Instead, they've been completely supportive of his budding acting career.

"I'm always harder on myself than they are of me," said the 27-year-old actor, for whom the "Silicon Valley" role is his first big break after numerous appearances in television commercials and comedy sketches.

Though Chang doesn't have a background in computer technology, he said the Silicon Valley role doesn't feel like much of a stretch.

"I grew up around people who were computer programmers and started learning all that stuff in junior high and high school," he explained. "I took classes with them, so I have a very good idea of how they act, how they talk and the computer jargon they use."

"Silicon Valley" satirizes the preoccupations and personalities of the tech industry, but Chang said he finds its depictions fairly accurate, and feels at home in the role.

"I'm bringing in the personalities of my friends and also using myself," he said. "I'm a pretty nerdy geeky guy, especially in comparison to most model/actor types in LA."

One of the disappointments of being on set was that the show is shot primarily in Los Angeles, but Chang said many of his co-stars are from the Bay Area, and noted that there's a healthy rivalry between NorCal and SoCal natives in Hollywood.

Of working with the show's lead actors, Chang said, "It was just a lot of fun. They're really quick on their toes, the main cast; they're improv specialists, so it was a lot of fun playing around with them."

As Seth, Chang said he worked closely with lead actor Thomas Middleditch who plays Richard Hendriks, a reclusive coder who quits his job at tech giant Hooli to develop his own music app.

"I had a couple of long scenes with Tom," Chang said. "In one, I go on a rampage where I start yelling at him in front of a bunch of little kids playing in a park outdoors. So we were shooting that scene, and a lot of little kids were staring at me. It was kinda weird, but that's acting, I guess."

To learn more about Joshua Chang, go to joshuachang.net.

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