In a chat with DAMAN, American actor David Lim shares about being on the “S.W.A.T” set, his views on acting and his plans for the future.
David Lim’s story is a testamentto what can be accomplished with passion and dedication. The American actor of Chinese descent never gave up even after starting his acting career later in life. His focus and determination have enabled him to make strides in the entertainment industry. Let’s get to know this inspiring individual a bit more…
DAMAN: Hi David, great to have you with us. How are you doing these days?
David Lim: I’m doing great! Spent some great quality time with my family over the holidays and did a little traveling. We’ve just picked up filming again and will wrap up our sixth season of “S.W.A.T,” in April.
DA: Let’s start with your “origin story,” so to speak. What was it that brought you to act?
DL: I was working a desk job as a loan officer in San Diego after I graduated college. I enjoyed it and was making good money, but I got bored after a couple of years and wanted a change. I had always admired famous actors and I loved the show Entourage, so I decided to give it a try. I joined a local acting class, got some headshots, eventually quit my job, and moved to Los Angeles.
DA: We learned that your character in “S.W.A.T,” Victor Tan, was specifically created for the show by pilot director Justin Lin. That must’ve felt awesome, can you tell us more about it?
DL: It did. You hear stories of roles being created for actors because their auditions were so good, but I never thought it would happen to You just give the best audition you can, then move on. It was a “no” for me on “S.W.A.T,” after my final audition, but a week later I was offered a role they had created for A few days after that, I was on set shooting the pilot. And here we are six seasons later. I’ll forever be grateful to Justin Lin, Shawn Ryan and Aaron Thomas for giving me this opportunity.
DA: When you first took on your “S.W.A.T,” role, did you think it was going to be a huge hit?
DL: From the get-go, we felt like we were making something really cool and special – the action sequences, the storylines, the subject matter and a talented cast. We felt like it wasn’t just another cop show, but something different that hadn’t been done before on network television. We, of course, dreamt it would be a hit. But I’m not sure we imagined we’d still be going strong 120+ episodes later, and be a hit show all over the world. It’s truly been a blessing and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to do another series that has this kind of run.
DA: What’s it like on the set of “S.W.A.T”?
DL: We have fun. We’re a family. We joke and laugh a lot. The cast and crew talk a lot of smack to each other. And we work really, really hard. It’s a great environment. I enjoy going to work every day. We get to kick down doors, blow things up, chase bad guys and be action heroes. It doesn’t get much better.
DA: In what way does your role as Victor Tan influence you?
DL: Victor Tan is a bad dude. He’s the on-screen hero I wish I had growing He’s tough as can be but still human. He’s got compassion. He loves his teammates and family. He’s a great officer and role model. I try to be like him as much as I can in my own life.
DA: By the way, what sort of training did they make you go through for this role?
DL: We did it all, from weights to fight training to tactical training. We spent the majority of time on tactical training with our technical advisor and former S.W.A.T. officer, Odie Gallop. We spent a week working with him on how to move as a team, clear out buildings, cover each other’s backs, handle weapons and look like the real deal. It was important to all of us that we portray real S.W.A.T. officers as accurately as possible.
DA: Are there any particularly memorable moments or scenes from the new season that you can share with us?
DL: We just filmed a great scene before the holiday break. It’s a scene between Tan and his wife, Bonnie, played by Karissa Lee Staples. It’s an emotional scene, as Tan eventually will find his marriage on the rocks during Season 6. It’s fun to dive into the emotional work of an actor. We do a lot of action and policing on the show, so it’s nice to change it up with some more personal scenes.
DA: In your opinion, what would be the number one reason to get into the show for anyone who missed the initial broadcast?
DL: It’s just a great show. It’s fun. It’s cool. It’s action-packed. We tackle the relevant subject matter and tougher topics. It’s well-written and we have a fantastic cast with great on-screen chemistry. It’s something for the whole family to get together and watch on Friday nights.
DA: Is there anything you can tell us about what’s in store for “S.W.A.T” post-season six?
DL: We won’t know until April or May whether or not we’ve been picked up for a seventh season. We’re solid in the ratings and popular around the world, but you just never know. If this is the last season, it’s been one helluva ride. But let’s hope it’s not.
DA: Though not always appreciated, most actors have to work very hard at their craft. Are there any areas of your repertoire that you’ve particularly had to work on?
DL: I got a late start. I didn’t start acting until 25. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do. This is a craft people work at their entire lives and here I am trying to pick it up as a young adult with no experience. I knew I had to work hard, and harder than others if I wanted to have any kind of success. For the first few years after I moved to LA, I lived in an acting class. And when I wasn’t in class, I was studying scenes, meeting up with other actors to rehearse, trying to book small gigs on my own, basically anything I could do to gain experience and get better. I believe you never stop learning and growing as an actor.
DA: A lot of actors have crossed over to directing at one point. Most start by directing an episode or two on their series. Is this something you might be interested in doing?
DL: Yes! I’d love to direct one day. I’m not sure about directing an episode of “S.W.A.T,” as it’s a very tough show to shoot in just eight days, but you never know. We have an awesome crew, so if I did direct, I’d have to lean on them as much as possible.
DA: As an actor, what do you think is your most defining quality?
DL: I’m not sure, to be honest. I’ll watch myself on TV and see where I can improve, and to see what worked in a scene or what didn’t, but mostly I’m just looking at the work and performance. Kind of like an athlete studying film. I’m always trying to improve and get better. I think you have to have longevity in this business. I try to bring a lot of myself to my work, but in terms of defining quality, I don’t know yet. I just try to make everything real and believable!
DA: Now that you have quite a few titles under your belt, what would you say, are the best parts of your chosen profession?
DL: I love that I get to do something that I enjoy for work. So many people don’t have that luxury, so I’m very thankful for that. I love to be on set, to be an artist, to be creative and hopefully inspire others to chase their dreams. A lot of people will come up to me saying how much they love the show. I’ve seen comments online from fans saying “S.W.A.T,” helped them through a tough time. To have a positive effect on viewers, that’s one of the best parts of this job.
“I knew I had to work hard and harder than others if I wanted to have any kind of success.”
DA: Have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
DL: Giving up wasn’t an option for I was so focused on finding success and willing to sacrifice and dedicate myself to becoming a working actor. I was also just enjoying the journey of being in class, auditioning, finding agents, booking small roles and dreaming of the day I get to be on a show. I think you have to embrace the struggle. Of course, there are times when doubt creeps into my mind, but I always tried to stay positive. Nothing great comes easy or fast. You have to put in the time and the work. And good things usually happen if you do.
DA: Will you appear in any other movies or TV shows in the coming months?
DL: For now, no. I am pretty tied up with “S.W.A.T,” We’re in the middle of filming our sixth season and won’t wrap until the end of April. 22-episode seasons are a grind and take up nearly 10 months out of the year. So, there’s not much time for anything else.
DA: Right now, what’s the most important thing in the world for you and why?
DL: My family, for sure. My wife and dog are my worlds. My parents are getting older, so I try to spend as much time with them as possible. We recently celebrated my dad’s 75th birthday! I have a sister and brother-in-law with three beautiful kids whom we adore. It’s all about family and friends for me. And of course, continuing to work hard in my career.
DA: Fast-forward five years from now, what do you hope you’ve managed to accomplish in your career by then?
DL: An Oscar and a Golden Globe, of course! No, I hope I’ll have done a couple of cool films by then. I’d love to do a gritty cable series, maybe a sci-fi thriller or riveting crime drama. I’ll take a Game of Thrones spin-off if they have one too! And some sort of dark comedy and maybe a rom-com. But mostly, I just want to continue to be a part of great projects with good people.
DA: Now, your journey so far has been quite extraordinary. If you could sum it all up in one short sentence, or maybe a motto, what would it be?
DL: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and go for it!
PHOTOGRAPHY MITCHELL NGUYEN McCORMACK
STYLING KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
GROOMING DYLAN MICHAEL using DIOR
PRODUCTION MEDIA PLAYGROUND PR
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