Learn about Angela Zhou, one of the stars of the new Hulu original series Death and Other Details.
Death and Other Details stars Violett Beane as a young woman on a luxury cruise ship who becomes the primary suspect in a murder. To clear her name, she must rely on the services of a detective played by the iconic Mandy Patinkin.
5 Facts About Death and Other Details Star Angela Zhou
Angela Zhou Started Acting by Accident
It was happenstance that led Angela Zhou to the world of acting. According to her IMDb profile, a scheduling conflict with her high school courses caused her to wind up in a drama class. But it sparked in her a love for the craft and she began taking every opportunity she could to act.
Speaking to Naluda Magazine, Zhou recounted the story of that fated high school scheduling conflict:
"My start was a complete accident. I was 13 and my high school had a performing art requirement in the first year. My choice of dance clashed with my schedule so they put me into drama. I wasn’t looking forward to it at all but I completely fell in love with it! I continued with drama classes in school and joined the musical, dramatic, and Shakespearean productions outside of class."
Angela's Breakout Role Was in AMC's Hell on Wheels
The Auckland, New Zealand-raised (but Guangzhou, China-born) actress had her first big break on the AMC Western drama Hell on Wheels. In the show, Zhou played a woman named Mei who disguised herself as a man called Fong so she could work on the Central Pacific Railroad.
It was Zhou’s very first television series and she discussed how she saw it as "an advantage" to come onto the series in its final season (via AMC:)
"It felt like being a freshmen in college, but we were joining a family, so I had a lot to work with already. It was my first show, so it was an advantage to step in on the last season because there was so much support already in place."
She also talked about her overall experience working on Hell on Wheels, noting she felt very supported by her co-stars and the crew, including series lead Anson Mount:
"The most important thing is the people that I worked with. So many cast and crew members took me under their wing. Anson [Mount] helped me with character development, John [Wirth] helped me by sending me books and DVDs, Tim [Guinee] trained me in the gym so I would get more of a dude shape... [Laughs]. I just hope one day I’ll be back on another show that’s filled with such amazing people as well."
Angela Previously Starred in the CW’s Supergirl
In the show’s six-season run, Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl went up against plenty of villains on the CW Arrowverse series. In Season 3, though, she faced a major threat in the form of the three Worldkillers: Reign, Purity, and Pestilence.
Angela Zhou played Pestilence in a major arc on Supergirl. She spoke to Bleeding Cool where she commented on her character’s skintight costume:
"Oh, my goodness! That was so much fun as well, and everyone on set was so lovely there. The funniest thing was seeing everyone before we would go on set. We would have our superhero costumes, right? I didn't realize how intense the fittings would be for the costume. When I first got my Pestilence suit on, they came and tightened, like airtight there and then they sewed it smaller. Then I put it on, and they tightened it again. You do two series of tightening so it fits like a glove, like a skin, onto you. It fits so tightly."
Zhou continued, adding that the long, false nails (which were part of Pestilence’s character), made it extremely difficult to take off the costume on her own:
"And because I had those scary Pestilence fake nails, every single time I needed to go to the bathroom, people had to help me take the suit off because I couldn't get it off with my hands with my nails [laughs]. You would see all the other actors behind the scenes. We would be sitting with our suits, like only on the bottom, and our arms and stuff would be out. It was so funny to see people texting with suits on at the bottom, but our arms, not in the suits."
Angela Is Also a Writer on Death & Other Details
In Death and Other Details, Angela Zhou portrays the character Teddy Goh, who serves as the crew manager on the show’s central setting of the ocean liner, the SS Varuna.
But fans may be interested to know that in addition to appearing in Death and Other Details, Zhou was a writing staff member (via Bleeding Cool). She initially submitted a screenplay to a writing competition held by the Academy Awards, where she ranked as a semifinalist:
"That was also because of Covid in some sense as the nice silver lining during that time; I used it to finish one of the screenplays that I had been working on for quite a while. I don't know if you've heard about China's only female emperor, Wu Zetian, but I wrote a little biopic. I submitted that to the Academy Awards Nicholl's screenwriting competition and didn't think anything about it; completely forgot about it. When we were shooting the pilot for this in September 2021, the Nicholls competition announced the finalists. I was a semifinalist and that was so cool because it was like name-blind and everything with six people reading your script."
Although she maintained her commitment to acting in Death and Other Details, Zhou’s screenplay was obtained by the show’s creators Heidi Cole McAdams and Mike Weiss:
"I didn't want to seem like I was distracted on set and not 100 percent focused on acting and playing Teddy. I didn't talk to anybody about it on set, but instead, I posted about it on my Instagram, and Mike and Heidi saw it. They read the logline, and turns out they're huge historical epic fans, too. They wanted to read it, but they didn't want to risk telling me that they were reading it because if they hated it, then they would have to tell one of their lead actors that they hated their writing, right? That's not a smart thing to do, and they're smart detective sleuth brains. What they ended up doing was asking the assistants to sneakily get the script from me and not tell me that they were going to hand it over to Mike and Heidi to read."
The co-creators were impressed with her work, and when the series got picked up by Hulu, Zhou was invited to write for it:
"That's what happened, and in January of 2022, I got this call from Mike and Heidi, and they're like, 'Good news. We got picked up for the series, and they were like, and we did something cheeky. We read 'Empress.'' Then they said, 'We don't know what you want to do with your career, but if you want to write in the room, we'd love to have you as a staff writer.'"
In another interview with Fangirlish, Angela Zhou went into detail regarding her time writing for the show, adding how crucial it was to “fill in the little steps” in the narrative:
“[O]n the first day of the writer’s room … they told us [the identity of the murderer]. We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, y’all are geniuses.’ Then, all we had to do was fill in the little steps and stuff all the way from the first episode to the 10th episode. They know, and a big, big part of it and what I love about it is that we play fair with the audience. You’ve met the murderer. It’s not like the murderer is going to come out the middle of nowhere or halfway through the season or something. You’ve met them at the beginning, then it is something that theoretically people watching very closely could piece together.”
One of Angela’s Favorite Movies Is Love, Actually
Zhou counts the 2003 rom-com classic Love, Actually as one of her all-time favorite films. She expressed this to Naluda Magazine, along with several of her other favorite shows and musical artists:
"I have serious problems answering favorite questions because there’s so much great stuff out there but I’ll try! ‘Love Actually’ and all the Disney musicals."
In terms of television, Zhou has a special fondness for Friends and Ally McBeal, and enjoys watching them "over and over again:"
"'Ally McBeal' and 'Friends' — I can watch it over and over again! I guess something more recent I’ve gotten stuck into is the Korean drama ‘'My Love From Another Star.''
As it pertains to music, Zhou noted that she’s "really into EDM:"
"Depends on my mood. I’m really into EDM on a day-to-day basis (Clean Bandit’s 'Extraordinary' is great) but sometimes I just need some Whitney or Celine!"
As for books, she has an appreciation for the novel Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China:
"'Wild Swans' by Jung Chang. I read it when I was 15 and it ignited a desire within me to reconnect with my Chinese roots."
How To Follow Angela Zhou Online
For fans who want to follow Zhou on social media, she can be found on Instagram at angelazhou.
Death and Other Details drops its next episode on Tuesday, February 6, exclusively on Hulu.