Steven He debuts ambitious sci-fi comedy series 'Ginormo!'
May 12, 2023 – minute read
May 12, 2023 – minute read
It all started with a rejection.
“I was the only Chinese kid in all of Limerick, Ireland for many, many years. When I was 13 years old, I became an actor and the industry did not treat me well,” Steven He says. “Either I was begging for a job or had a show I wanted to make asking people to give me the opportunity and always got told no.”
Premiering today, 'Ginormo!' is Steven He’s parody of 1970s Japanese-style monster shows (think Godzilla or Power Rangers)
Instead, Steven turned to YouTube to produce the content he wanted to make and business took off from there. A decade later, aside from being the face of the ever-relatable Emotional Damage meme, Steven’s finally fulfilling his dream of creating the show he’s long envisioned. Premiering today, Ginormo! is Steven’s parody of 1970s Japanese-style monster shows (think Godzilla or Power Rangers) alongside co-producer Ken Mok (Joy, America’s Next Top Model). The show also features many fellow YouTube creators, including Alan Chikin Chow, KallmeKris, Jeenie Weenie, Ian Boggs and more.
Since turning to YouTube, Steven found enough success through his comedy videos to self-fund the entire project. “YouTube was the first place I ever made money,” he admits. But what’s better is being able to choose his collaborators.
“I’ll be honest, it wasn’t even a casting thing — I just wanted to have fun with my friends,” Steven says. “But the truth is every single actor that was on set, even though the majority of them are YouTubers, were more professional than nearly every actor I've worked with in my life. I really appreciate that of them.”
That’s not to say production went without a hitch. From camera equipment failures to the set being unbearably hot due to record-setting heatwaves, Steven says having fellow YouTubers by his side gave him a sense of scrappiness that helped pull everything together.
“During the heatwave, we had to find external air conditioners to cool our massive set. We were climbing ladders using shoelaces to tie pipes up to whatever we could to save the shoot,” he says. But he says that was the beauty of working with YouTube creators; since most of them are used to filming very minimally and often on the fly, it was easy for them to pivot to getting each shot done in just a few takes and even fewer fancy equipment.
“Technically I do have a traditional media filming background, and so does Ken Mok, so being able to have this eye-opening experience with new media creators was amazing,” Steven says. And for the creators, it was also helpful to learn how professional level sets can help elevate their production. “Out of this collaboration will come innovations that I can use to optimize both ends — to make a more cinematic, better looking product while spending less time and less resources.”
With Ginormo! premiering during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Steven also hopes his work continues to raise visibility of Asians in entertainment — dispelling the setbacks he himself experienced as a young aspiring actor. “When I was young, I grew up watching KSI, a Black creator in England who went from an average kid playing video games in his room to global superstar. He was unlike any other gamers I’d ever seen,” he says.
“I like to think that's the reason I'm not a doctor today. I hope what I do can have that same effect or be that beacon or that anchor that says to another kid that their dreams are possible.”
Watch the first full episode of Ginormo! here: