Andrew Phung is proof you can take the boy out of Calgary but you can’t take the Calgary out of the boy

Calgary-born actor reflects on his time growing up in the city and how it influenced his career

By Krista Sylvester | February 23, 2022 |5:00 am

It's no secret that Calgary-born actor Andrew Phung reflects on his time growing up in the northeast fondly and it has greatly infuenced his craft.

Photo: Submitted

Andrew Phung is always going to be a Calgary boy, and it’s not just because he was born here. 

The actor has always felt a sense of pride in his city, and that hasn’t changed even though his star power has grown. 

Phung was known locally for his work at Loose Moose Theatre Company but hit mainstream fame with the popular comedy sitcom Kim’s Convenience, which ran on CBC from 2016 to 2021. 

He may live in Toronto now, but the Run the Burbs actor and director comes back to Calgary every chance he can. It’s influenced much of his craft, after all. 

“I’m from Calgary, too!” 

“I talk about being from the northeast of Calgary in everything I do,” Phung tells Calgary Citizen. 

“I have one friend from high school, Todd, and he’s like, ‘You’re so proud to be from the northeast of Calgary.’ It’s been a bonding thing.” 

Phung says being from Calgary always comes up in conversation, even with strangers on the street. 

“When people see me in public they’re like, ‘I grew up in the northeast as well.’ I just like bringing a sense of pride to that neighbourhood.”

Those were the days 

Phung says that sense of pride has always stayed with him throughout his career. 

“I wasn’t an actor that left Calgary to try to make it. I was an actor that built my career in Calgary. I think it’s like that’s something people gravitate towards,” he says, pointing to his first improv show at Loose Moose Theatre. 

“In Calgary, a lot of people in the acting scene do it because they love it. You’re not there to try to make it … you’re there because you love acting, you love theatre, you love the culture.” 

Phung was even dreaming about his Loose Moose days recently, reflecting fondly on the relationships he built over the years. 

“I actually go back and I watch a lot of the improv shows that I have recorded just to feel something, to feel alive,” he adds. 

How the city has influenced Phung’s career 

Phung loves Calgary so much he actually tried to shoot his new sitcom Run the Burbs right here in the city. 

Unfortunately, the city was too busy with other productions filming, which is a good problem to have — but Phung made sure his new sitcom had some subtle nods to his hometown city. 

Though Toronto is different from Calgary in many ways, he still sees some commonalities. 

“There’s a different pace of life, it’s much faster, less space. But then, in some ways, it’s really similar because the northeast is so diverse culturally,” Phung says. 

“It’s fun coming to Toronto, but I’m still a Calgary boy.” 

What’s next for Phung 

Phung’s latest project, Run the Burbs, returns to CBC tonight after its Olympic break and it’s a project near and dear to his heart. The show follows the Phams, a young Vietnamese-South Asian-Canadian family taking a different approach to living life to the fullest while living in the suburbs.

“It’s been incredible. The response has been amazing. The audiences are loving it, and we have a really, really wonderful audience,” he says, adding there is a fierce group of fans who live Tweet each episode. 

His favourite comment is that the show has the “heart and soul” of Kim’s Convenience but with a completely different family. 

“Hearing people’s stories and how they connect to it… means so much to me.” 

Phung is also on Amazon Prime’s original series LOL: Last One Laughing Canada hosted by Jay Baruchel in which 10 Canadian comedians compete to make each other laugh. The comedian who doesn’t break a smile wins $100,000 for the charity of their choice.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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