Hayden Szeto felt a strong connection to Brad, his closeted character in the new teen horror romp Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare. Szeto, who’s straight, never had to come out to his traditional Chinese father—as the movie’s do-or-die game forces Brad to do — but the 32-year-old Vancouver native was very reluctant to open up to him about his dreams.
“My dad’s a painter and supportive of the arts,” says Szeto, “but he and my mom wanted me to pursue something that would guarantee me a job, like a doctor or an accountant. I know what it’s like to have pressure to be somebody you don’t want to be.”
In addition to ignoring the voices that told him Asian actors don’t thrive in Hollywood (a notion he dispelled with his impressive performance in 2016’s The Edge of Seventeen), Szeto also succeeded in persuading his peers to carve out their own paths. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I inspired some friends to do the same,” he says. “One worked at a bank but became a video game designer. The other was pursuing dentistry and now does postproduction in film.”
Before shooting Truth or Dare, Szeto — who’ll next appear in the AMC dramedy series Lodge 49 — crossed another bridge. He was presented with headshots of extras, one of whom would play a guy Brad kisses at a party. “I had no clue who to choose,” he says, so he sent the photos to the film’s lead, Lucy Hale. “It was the first guy I kissed, and she was thrilled to cast that role.”