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Eddie Huang is the modern renaissance man. On top of being an accomplished writer, chef, producer, and attorney, Boogie, his directorial debut, just dropped on VOD today. The film centres on Chinese-American teen Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi), who dreams of playing for the NBA while dealing with love, family, and rivalry.

Complex Canada’s Alex Navarez had a virtual sit-down with Huang to talk about the movie, what it was like working with the late Pop Smoke on his first and only acting role, and Toronto’s diverse food culture. Watch it above. 

On Boogie and Asian-American representation:
“I think what’s very unique about Boogie as an Asian-American character in cinema is that he’s a confident Asian-American male and you don’t see that. He’s just him, and he’s proud of himself, he’s confident in himself, he’s proud of where he comes from, he respects his values. And I just think that we’ve never been able to have an Asian-American male character like this. They’re always quite compromised or they’re the laughing stock, you know, like Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles, you know, Jet Li, Chow Yun-fat, Jackie Chan. Cool. But it’s like without a gun or without kicking people, you have no strength. And I think this is probably the first Asian-American male character you’ve seen with strength. And I think that’s very important.”

[Editor’s note: Shortly after this interview was filmed, Huang commented on the spa shootings in Atlanta and the rise of Anti-Asian hate in America for Complex. Watch that interview here.] 

On Toronto’s food culture:
“Toronto to me feels like one giant Queens, which is amazing. It’s like you guys have the most diversity in terms of food that I’ve seen in any city besides perhaps L.A. I love Ali’s Roti. And then I think across from Ali’s Roti, you’ve got the Tibetan momo spot, right? You’ve got a Tibetan spot. I had probably the best Cantonese food I ever had at Fisherman’s Lobster House. That place goes crazy. It’s just anything you want to eat, it’s in Toronto, you know? You want good Indian food, you want good Lebanese food, you want good West Indian, it’s all there and it’s all good. And I do like the Canadian hospitality too.”

On his love-hate relationship with Drake:
“I’m going to keep it real with you, I love that song ‘Greece’. I like when Drake is just a little bit more ignorant and goofy. You know, ‘Greece’ is such a simple song. I’m fine with Drake, like my friends love Drake, shorties love Drake, so I don’t want to hate on nobody. But for me, if it’s not, I don’t know, it’s not for me. But then when I think about it, son does have a lot of bangers. He’s just kind of easy to laugh at, right? But I think he also invites it and he’s in on the joke. So the older I get, the more I’m like, there’s other things to hate on than Drake, you know? And I think Drake is a smart guy who’s in on the joke as well.”

On becoming friends with Pop Smoke on the set of Boogie:
“I really loved Pop, man. I really miss him. That’s my guy. I smile fondly thinking about Pop. The movie is dedicated to him, that’s my brother for life, man. I love him. I only knew him for a few months, but they were an incredible few months and I feel connected to him forever, man. Like, he got to see his dreams come true on this project, and I did as well. You know, I wouldn’t have without Pop.”