‘I believe there is a strong correlation between excelling academically and athletically. And how do I know this? Because by the time they entered high school, they were already motivated to study and prepare themselves without too much nagging on my part.’
Allan Wu is a Chinese-American actor and dad who has lived in Singapore since 2001. His career on the Little Red Dot started off as host of Ford Models Supermodel of the World but he has gone on to star in numerous English and Chinese serial drama productions and movies though he is most renowned for being the host of The Amazing Race Asia. Allan has two teenagers, a daughter, Sage 19, currently studying at Stanford University in the US and a son, Jonas, 17 at SJI International. We catch up with the celebrity dad who dishes the dirt on himself (he once didn’t shower for three months!). Read on as Allan tells us about the ‘Tiger Dad’ label, how he navigated co-parenting in the early days after his divorce, what his definition of success is and why he is so passionate about both staying fit and healthy but also inspiring his kids to be sporty and athletic too.
What’s your parenting philosophy?
I’ve always believed in allowing and exposing our children to as much as possible so they can learn and discern for themselves what they enjoy and may eventually have a passion for. Plus I think it’s absolutely important to encourage them to be active and do sports.
We hear you’ve been quoted as calling yourself a Tiger Dad — do you class yourself as this?
I really only referred to myself as a “Tiger Dad” in reference to the way I encouraged and pushed my children athletically when they were young, but this is why they now both have a solid foundation in athletics and healthy living. I have always seen the many benefits of athletics, and I do strongly believe there is a strong correlation between excelling academically and athletically. And how do I know this? Because by the time they entered their later years in high school (secondary school and JC), they were already motivated to study and prepare themselves without too much pushing and nagging on my part.
How have you managed co-parenting with your ex-wife local former actress Wong Li Lin?
When the kids were younger (before high school), I did see them quite often even though they primarily lived with their mother. But during and after the pandemic, I haven’t seen my children as regularly because they are much busier with their school and own social lives. However, I still try to see them whenever I can and that includes going to the gym and going on holidays with them.
Any tips for parents who are embarking on a co-parenting journey?
Regardless of how the situation is between the two parents, I have always believed we should put our own egos, emotions, and agendas aside for the sake of the children. We should do everything within our power to show our children that even though their parents are not together anymore, we are still united in our efforts to raise them in a happy and healthy environment.
Favourite activity to do with your kids?
I used to enjoy doing any type of sports with them like playing basketball or running. Now, I am happy watching a movie with them or going to the gym and working out together.
What have been the challenges of parenting teens?
It’s not easy being a teenager these days so we parents must understand this and be sensitive to their needs and emotions even when they might not express it. Teens have their own desires, hopes, fears, and opinions, and we need to respect that and treat them as an adult, which I believe in turn will also gain respect and trust from them.
Why did you choose an international school in SG for both of your kids?
Actually, I was supportive of having my children attend a local public school, but their mother preferred to have them go to an international school so that’s how we decided in the end.
How long have you been living in Singapore – is it your forever home now or will you move back to the US once your son is in university?
I moved to Singapore in 2001 and I have really enjoyed living here. At the moment, I don’t foresee myself moving back to the US, but let’s see where my son Jonas decides to attend university after he finishes up NS in a few years.
What’s your fitness routine?
I try to work out about 4-5 times per week consisting of 2-3 days in the gym weight lifting and 2-3 days of cardio from running, cycling, or swimming. I have always believed that consistency is key, and there’s no better way to show my children than by showing them through example.
What made you want to become an actor?
I have always enjoyed entertaining and making my friends laugh. This interest coupled with the fact that Asian men weren’t always portrayed in the most positive light back in the day compelled me to give acting a shot a few years after working at a biotechnology company.
Tell us something crazy about yourself.
When I was in college back at UC Berkeley, I once broke my right hand and didn’t shower for three months. I also didn’t wash my hair for two months. I guess I was ahead of my time in terms of trying to conserve water (and electricity)!
How do you define success?
I believe success isn’t measured by how big your bank account is or how nice your house or car is. Success to me is when your mind is at peace and you are happy with the life choices you have made. And we can’t forget that the ones we love are happy and healthy too.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There is no such thing as a bad experience. As long as you learn from it, you are a better and wiser person for it. And on that note, go out there and live it up—even if you don’t feel you are ready for a task or challenge.
What are your hopes for your kids’ futures?
From the very beginning, I have always just hoped to see them happy and healthy. Of course, their definition of “happy” is most likely defined differently than mine, but I do hope they find joy in their lives and become the amazing young adults that I already see them shaping up to be.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Allan. Sounds like you are a pretty chill dad — we love your upbeat positive view on life and we couldn’t agree with you more about your definition of success!