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Kian Talan went to college, studied computer science and moved to New York post-graduation for an office job. There, he realized he wanted to opt for more creative pursuits and enrolled in a two-year acting class.
Five years later, he found himself securing his biggest role yet on the hit television franchise NCIS. He has also completed multiple independent films and featured in K-391 & Alan Walker’s music video “Ignite”. Fans can even catch Talan on the episode of The Good Doctor that will release on Dec. 12.
On NCIS Hawai’i, Talan plays Alex Tennant, the son of the lead character, Jane Tennant, played by Vanessa Lachey. Alex is a moody teenage son navigating his way through the world while overcoming obstacles like his parents’ divorce and figuring out his next steps in life as he approaches high school graduation.
Recently, NCIS Hawai’i had its midseason finale. “You definitely see Alex go through some change,” Talan tells LA Confidential of his character this season “You guys are introduced to his new girlfriend who is 21, a little bit older than Alex. He’s kinda getting influenced by her and trying to figure out his life, whether that is going straight to school or taking a gap year. So the next episode, you’ll definitely see how that unravels, and the choices that he makes and affects not himself but his family. There’s a lot of surprises that are gonna be coming in the following episodes.”
Channeling Alex wasn’t too hard for Talan. “In season 1, his parents are recently divorced and he’s dealing with all of that. That’s something I had to go through growing up too, so it’s really easy to connect to that character," he explains. It also helps that his past experiences and younger brother, who is similar in age to his character, serve as his current inspiration when he plays Alex.
Acting wasn’t something Talan originally set out to do. He was expected to not deviate from the path of college and getting a good job. When Talan pursued acting after college, he hid his career switch from his parents until he secured his role on NCIS Hawai'i.
“I didn’t really tell them until I booked this job and showed them that I can build a career in this industry,” he says. “I kind of loved that this happened because now I see my younger brother’s head turning a little bit and my parents being more accepting to new dreams and possibilities. It’s been a cool journey for sure.”
For Talan, filming NCIS: Hawai’i has been a special experience for a multitude of reasons.
“The whole environment too, here in Hawaii, is so different and has brought a new perspective to my life and what people here prioritize, as opposed to the North, where I’m initially from, prioritize. It's slower paced and very family oriented here. They don’t work to live. They’re very passionate about their culture, the land and the people. It’s been really nice to surround myself in this environment.”
Talan also understands what it means to be passionate about his own culture. He constantly advocates for more Filipino representation in the film industry. Since taking on new opportunities, his interest in writing and producing has a focus on working with other Filipino artists and directors.
“There’s so many organizations, especially in L.A., that revolve around Filipinos in entertainment,” he says. “Any time I get to surround myself with that type of creative space is definitely where I feel like I thrive in and get excited about.”
“A bunch of my friends are Filipino actors, so working with some friends would be awesome,” Talan adds.
Growing up, Talan didn’t see a lot of representation for Filipinos and wants to be a part of that change. He mentions that for now he’s writing his own screenplays for fun, but hopes to one day actually produce.
“Writing is a process and it’s a technique,” Talan shares. “You can't just write something and expect it to be great. But luckily I have a lot of friends who are in the writing space that I’ve been able to share what he’s been working on and get some feedback.” However, when the time comes the actor has a community of friends, family and fans to support him.
While he and his NCIS character, Alex, are both people on an ongoing journey of personal growth, Talan hasn’t let the social pressures of the industry’s hustle culture get in his way. “[When] we focus more on success and work and all that, we leave ourselves behind, so this year I've definitely focused on meditation and self care. I’ve seen improvement in how I pull my energy in my everyday life and how I approach certain situations.” Ultimately he understands himself the best and knows how to keep grounded.
“I'm a firm believer [that] it's hard to play someone else when struggling in your own life,” Talan says. “What makes you happy brings the best out of your work and I think that goes with any industry as well.”
Photography by: @jayrivphoto