Telly Leung - Co-Host
TELLY LEUNG is a Chinese-American, New York City native, Broadway & television performer, recording artist, producer, director, theater arts teacher & coach.
His Broadway & national touring performing credits include Aladdin in Disney's "Aladdin" on Broadway, “In Transit”, “Allegiance” (with George Takei & Lea Salonga), “Godspell”, “Rent” (final Broadway company), “Wicked” (Boq, original Chicago company), “Pacific Overtures”, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Flower Drum Song”. In 2010, he starred as Angel in “Rent” at the Hollywood Bowl opposite Wayne Brady, directed by Neil Patrick Harris. Television audiences will remember him as Marcel in season 3 of "Warrior" (HBO Max), Wes the Warbler on “Glee", as well as his guest star appearances on "Instinct", “Odd Mom Out,” “Deadbeat” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” Telly is featured as a performance coach for the Jimmy Awards in the PBS documentary, "Broadway or Bust".
His producing credits include the concert series “Broadway Back Together”, the musical shortfilm“Grind” (starring Anthony Rapp),“The Nice List”(a virtual holiday musical for the whole family), and the documentary “Ensemble”, which chronicles the lives of 13 Broadway performers on the one-year anniversary of the Broadway shutdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. He has created live concert events for corporate events (including Elliott Masie’s 2013 Learning conference in Orlando and Marshall Goldsmith's MG100 conference in Nashville in 2023) as well as virtual events for major international corporations (Heidrick & Struggles, Herman Miller) and notable non-profit organizations (Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS, The Fund for College Auditions, Shelter From the Storm, Cancer Support Community).
He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. He has taught master classes and theater courses at American universities like NYU’s New Studio on Broadway at Tisch, The University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, Nazareth College and Point Park College. He has also been a guest teacher at drama programs all over the world at studios in London, Edinburgh, and Tokyo. His role as an educator in the performing arts extends to the business world with private coaching for executive clients on communication, storytelling, and presentation skills.
In 2019, he partnered with e-learning leader Elliott Masie to create “Storytelling & Broadway”, a series of interactive and skill-focussed workshop experiences with business & learning professionals. In April 2020, he created “Empathy”, a free and on-going virtual concert-and-conversation series presented live with Broadway performers and learning leaders from major corporations (McDonald’s, Zoom, Land O’Lakes, Comcast) to exchange ideas and techniques about the role of empathy in our ever-changing world. He is the co-author of “Empathy eBook: Empathy in the Workplace & Workforce”, a real-time collection of learning and business colleague perspectives, frustrations, aspirations, and predictions about empathy in the workplace. As a corporate coach he has collaborated with top CEO coaches Mark Thompson & Marshall Goldsmith (MG100) to bring his unique perspectives as an artist and thought leader to CEOs & top executives at Intel, Unifi, Rady Children’s Hospital, and more.
Telly currently lives in Harlem in New York City with his husband, James.
Telly & Cher!
From Marshall Goldsmith:
"The actor and singer Telly Leung perfectly describes the mental process of compartmentalizing our empathy and being present. Telly was the star of the long-running Broadway hit Aladdin for two years straight. Talking about how he maintained his motivation and energy eight times a week for two years as the title character in a physically demanding production, he broke down his empathy into two parts:
First, there was his emotional empathy with the audience watching him perform. “I was a little eight-year-old boy the first time I saw a play,” Telly said. “I was mesmerized by the music, the singing, the dancing, and the joy. I carry the memory of that experience with me to every performance. When I go out on that Broadway stage, I think of ‘little Telly’ and imagine the emotions of some eight-year-old boy or girl sitting in the audience that night. I want that young person to feel what I felt. Every night, I tell myself, ‘This show is for you!’ ”
Second is what Telly calls “authentic empathy,” which is a respect for his colleagues when they’re performing together. It’s a display of professionalism that keeps him focused and “in character” for every moment of each performance. An actor trying to do his best onstage cannot afford to check out mentally or emotionally for a single second.
“In the two hours I was onstage in the role of Aladdin,” Telly told me, “I had to demonstrate many extremely different emotional reactions. I had to be happy, sad, in love, rejected, serious, lighthearted, angry, and funny. I had to connect emotionally with the other actors. I had to demonstrate empathy for them every second I was onstage. Every night I had to fall in love with Princess Jasmine—and I did! When the curtain fell, I immediately shut that feeling down until the next show. Then I went home where I could resume being in love with my husband."