'Pretty Smart's' Out Social Influencer Michael Hsu-Rosen Makes His Own Way

Tuesday October 26, 2021
Originally published on October 25, 2021

Michael Hsu-Rosen
Michael Hsu-Rosen   (Source:Netflix)

When Michael Hsu Rosen first appeared on Broadway in a 2009 production of "West Side Story," he listed his name as Michael Rosen. It wasn't until seven years later did he add his Asian surname. That was when he appeared in "Torch Song Trilogy" in 2018. And while he feels that he was passed over for some roles, the Huffington Post writes, he has no regrets about making the change.

"I didn't work for a year and a half after I made that decision," he said. "But I realized there was a point where I wanted to make it clear to the industry what my background is so that there was no ambiguity. I had to put my foot down and say, 'This is who I am. This is how I'd like to be represented.'"

And he realizes he's something of an outlier in the entertainment world. "Being half-Chinese, half-white, and gay ... there's still no A-list star for me to look to and say, 'Hey, they're like me. I'll do what they did,'" he added. "At times that's been discouraging, but I think for the most part, it's empowering. I get to make my own way."

Today Hsu Rosen stars alongside Emily Osment and Gregg Sulkin in "Pretty Smart," which debuted on Netflix this month. In the sitcom, Osment plays an aspiring author who moves from the East Coast to California and moves in with her sister (played by Olivia Macklin) and her eccentric trio of friends: a lawyer-turned-healer Solana (Cinthya Carmona) a hunky fitness trainer Grant (Sulkin), and social media influencer Jayden, played by Hsu Rosen.

Of his character, Hsu Rosen said: "Jayden may center himself in most spaces, but he's also a really good friend. He's the kind of person you want to tell good news to. He can get excited for you, and I like to think I do that, too."

And, despite the seriousness, the "Friends"-like show has its serious moments, such as a scene in the show's fourth episode, "in which the character reflects on his adolescent struggles with his gay identity and delivers a moving speech about the value of queer-inclusive spaces," writes the HuffPost.

Moving forward, he told the HuffPost he hopes the show will delve deeper into Jayden's gay identity by giving the character a boyfriend or, at least, allowing his romantic side to shine in future episodes.

"[Sexuality is] both the most important thing about somebody and the least important, and that complexity needs to be represented," Rosen said. "I want queer cinema that's self-consciously queer and deliberately queer, and I want queer cinema that's mainstream and commercial. I know that there's room for both."

Watch this sexy clip of Hsu Rosen: