Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage



LGBTQ+ actor Hank Chen talks OneWheaton, Tyra Banks and Robin Williams
by Emily Reilly

This article shared 2114 times since Wed Sep 2, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Hank Chen is an actor and—perhaps more interestingly to people in Chicagoland—is a co-founder of the LGBTQ+ group OneWheaton, which consists of LGBTQ+ students and alumni of Wheaton College. Two of his recent credits include Life-Size 2 and The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, in which he worked with well-known names like Tyra Banks and Robin Williams.

Growing up in the suburbs of District of Columbia, Chen was inspired by leaders in his church and community who attended Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in the suburbs of Chicago. Unbeknownst to him, this is where he would make a powerful impact on the student body.

"Our youth pastor had gone to Wheaton College and then some of the prominent leaders had gone to Wheaton College and it was just so absorbed in that community, like, 'Wow, oh so and so went to Wheaton College—oh wow," said Chen. "All these guys were seen as cool and I just thought to myself—what happens if I apply? So I applied and got in."

When Chen attended, he and other LGBTQ+ students at the college felt isolated on campus and eventually came together to begin OneWheaton, aiming to affirm the humanity and dignity of LGBTQ+ students.

"Everyone sort of took up their positions and then someone thought of the idea of a letter-writing campaign, so what had happened was a letter was drafted in response to the Wheaton College body in hoping that it would get in the hands of anyone who was questioning or closeted or struggling with isolation," said Chen. "Then, after chapel one day, a handful of locals in Chicago went to campus and handed out these letters as one of the chapels was being let out. So they were pretty much able to have access to the entire student body."

Hoping to hear a response from the college, OneWheaton quickly picked up traction from this on social media and news outlets.

"These letters were leaked to the press; next thing you know it was on Time, CNN, news broadcasts and our PR person was quoted everywhere," said Chen. "What was interesting is Wheaton College was trending on Twitter that day—so much so that the actor Wil Wheaton got alerted on what was happening because of his last name and he tweeted us. He promoted our cause and so the president at the time had to respond and said 'We believe marriage is between one man and one woman' and they were put into a very uncomfortable position, but they were kind of exposed for the bigot that they were."

Beyond his work with OneWheaton, Chen has since been onscreen for a number of credits, including Life Size 2, where he spent five weeks filming alongside Tyra Banks.

"It was shot in the summer and it was July in Atlanta and they can't turn on the AC when the camera is rolling because it interferes with the audio," said Chen. "We were just chilling in the car, she and I were just sweating, you know, waiting for them to say action."

Chen said that working on the film and being colleagues with Banks was a surreal experience and that he is grateful he was able to work alongside her, even through the heat.

"She was just fun, you know," said Chen. "It was really cool."

Before Life Size 2, Chen appeared in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Williams' last movie before his death in 2014. Chen said that at the time of its release, he was feeling positive about its debut but disappointed when it was temporarily unsuccessful.

"I remember we were very excited when it wrapped and the director was, like 'I can't wait to see it premiere,' which I think it was on that Memorial Day weekend and, yeah, then it bombed," said Chen.

Months later, Williams passed away. Chen expressed how shaken he was, along with the rest of the world, when he heard about Williams's death. Consequently, this affected the film he had just wrapped with Williams.

"More people saw it the week he died than when it came out in theaters," said Chen.

Similar to Williams, Chen has a background in performing stand-up comedy.

"A couple years ago, I approached it from the method of an actor," said Chen. "I would have my jokes written out and then memorized and then onstage I would recite the joke and I was, like, 'Oh, they should be laughing here'—and it was just very stupid and it was very flat. Now, I really learned to read the room, so you don't talk at the audience; you talk with the audience. And sometimes you ask them literally to talk back. No joke is precious, no show is precious, sometimes you win them and sometimes you don't."

Because production has paused and most venues are closed due to COVID-19, Chen has plans to continue his work in film once everything starts back up again. Until then, he can be found on Instagram and Twitter @Hanksterchen.

This article shared 2114 times since Wed Sep 2, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

'The Prom' out Dec. 11 on Netflix 2020-11-27
- The Prom—a musical-comedy film directed by Ryan Murphy and adapted by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin (from their and Matthew Sklar's 2018 Broadway musical of the same name)—will be out on Netflix on Dec. 11. The ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ: Awards, 'Bebop,' Andy Cohen, Mariah Carey, Revry 2020-11-23
- The American Music Awards aired live Nov. 22 and some of the biggest names in music took home awards; Taraji P. Henson hosted. According to, Doja Cat won new artist of the year and Becky ...

Gay News

MOVIES Paul Bettany talks 'Uncle Frank' and his own closeted father 2020-11-22
- In the critically acclaimed Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Paul Bethany (the Avengers and Iron Man series; Master and Commander; The Da Vinci Code) plays the title character—a literature professor who has two ...

Gay News

MOVIES Peter Macdissi reflects on making 'Uncle Frank' 2020-11-21
- In the Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Peter Macdissi plays Walid "Wally" Nadeem—the partner of the title character (played by Paul Bettany). However, the dynamics are a bit different in that Frank Bledsoe ...

Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance presents surrealist film online Dec. 3, 5 and 6 2020-11-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) continues its 2020/21 43rd season with a virtual premiere presentation of new work from former Hubbard Street dancer and acclaimed choreographer Jonathan Fredrickson ...

Gay News

Day With(out) Art: Transmissions launches online Nov. 30 2020-11-18
--From a press release - NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2020 — Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS and HIV awareness through dialogue, art exhibitions and public forums, announces their ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg 2020-11-16
- Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...

Gay News

MOVIES Trans-focused Born to Be to be released Nov. 20 2020-11-16
- Born To Be—a hit documentary on the country's first hospital center for transgender medical care—will open in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 20 (also the Transgender Day of Remembrance) with Gene Sickle Film Center Virtual Cinema. The ...

Gay News

THEATER Pride Arts artistic director resigns; PFP keeps Zak 2020-11-12
- Two controversial developments have occurred at Pride Arts (in which Pride Films & Plays, PFP, is the main tenant). According to a letter from PrideArts President Cheri Tatar that Windy City Times obtained, PFP Artistic Director ...

Gay News

MOVIES Henry Golding gets intimate in 'Monsoon' 2020-11-11
- Taking a turn from larger-budget movies such as A Simple Favor and Crazy Rich Asians, actor Henry Golding stars in the intimate film Monsoon. The movie features Golding as Kit, a young British-Vietnamese man who returns ...

Gay News

Mama Gloria, about Chicago's elder, trans, activist icon, to screen 2020-11-10
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Luchina Fisher's Mama Gloria, an important and timely documentary about Chicago's trailblazing Black trans elder icon and activist Gloria Allen, will hold nationwide screenings during Transgender Awareness ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rock Hudson, The CW, Jillian Michaels, Isis King 2020-11-09
- Among Kino Lorber's December DVD and Blu-ray releases is a three-movie set (with the 1953-54 features Seminole, Golden Blade and Bengal Brigade) starring the late actor Rock Hudson, a press release noted. Co-stars in the films ...

Gay News

Chicago Underground Film Festival offers virtual and drive-in screenings in November 2020-11-03
--From a press release - CHICAGO—The 27th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), the world's longest-running underground film festival and called "the festival you wouldn't take home to mom," returns in 2020 with virtual screenings ...

Gay News

Lilly Wachowski: Refuse Fascism, at the Ballot Box and in the Street 2020-11-02
Video below - In a rare, public and political statement, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski (co-creator of The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Sense8) published this personal essay on the literary website,, calling on people to "Refuse Fascism, at the ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ RuPaul, LGBTQ athletes, film winners, Charles Busch 2020-11-02
- RuPaul has a lot of irons in the fire, according to Not only is she on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK's January 2021 issue, but the drag icon has also posted her new five-track Hey Sis, It's Christmas EP. Also, ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.