Work in China – Live in California. What a Long Commute!
Jonathan Kos-Read leads a double life. No, he doesn’t have two separate wives and families – just two separate lives that he shares with one family.
In China, he’s known as Cao Cao and is the go-to white male actor for Westerner roles in Chinese films, regardless of whether the role calls for a British policeman, a stupid American, or an arrogant Frenchman.
He’s a celebrity there – recognized on the street where fans beg him for autographs and selfies.
In California, he’s just your average husband and father with the kind of anonymity that allows him to pick up his daughter from school and walk down the street in peace.
Kos-Read ended up in China after finishing college as a way to bring some excitement to his life. He’d had a year of Mandarin at college and figured living in China would be the perfect way to become fluent.
Like a lot of English-speaking expats, he ended up teaching English to support himself.
Call it serendipitous or just being in the right place at the right time.
One day he saw an ad for a foreign actor to play a role in a Chinese movie. And the rest, as they say, is history. His first job didn’t pay much, but it opened the door.
The film industry in China was really beginning to expand at the time, and there weren’t many Western actors around to appear in Chinese movies. Right place. Right time.
It didn’t hurt that Kos-Read’s ability in Mandarin was pretty fluent by that time although he often speaks English in his roles. It also didn’t hurt that Kos-Read is very photogenic with wavy brown hair and a thick beard streaked with gray. He can morph his look into whatever is needed for the role.
There must be other countries that need English-speaking actors. Are you already planning a trip to find your own acting paradise?