Canadian actor Peter Shinkoda was born and grew up in Montreal, watching a plethora of movies, be they on VHS or whatever he could find on pre-cable television. Though family and friends encouraged him to be practical and pursue engineering or medicine, Peter was focused on entertainment from a young age, having grown up on James Bond and Indiana Jones, and having recognized acting as a serious craft the very first time he saw Platoon and The Deerhunter.
Then as now, a huge fan of Steven Spielberg, Peter’s first attempt at acting came when he forced his parents to drive the six hours to Toronto to attend a casting call for the Chinese kid in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Sadly, the audition led nowhere at the time, and Peter focused on sports, playing hockey, of course, but also excelling at skiing, football, baseball, and soccer, and on music, studying classical piano and being identified as one of the top 10 young pianists in Canada by the time he was 13.
Music continued to be a passion, though Peter’s tastes shifted to the rock and alternative scenes that permeated Montreal’s ethnically and culturally diverse society. While Peter’s Japanese-born mother helped keep Asian customs at the forefront of his life, his close friends who ran the gamut from French Canadian to Greek, from black to Italian, from First Nations to Jewish, and virtually everything in between, helped him develop an appreciation for the beauty and the excitement of diversity.
At 18, Peter moved to Toronto and stayed with relatives, including his uncle, Gene Mark, who was a successful and ground-breaking Chinese-Canadian actor from the 60s to the 80s. While he soon left to attend the University of Western Ontario as an engineering student, his relationship with his uncle was one of the elements that rekindled his love of acting. Between the ages of 18 and 22, Peter spent each summer in Los Angeles, readying himself for an entertainment-related career in Hollywood. He studied film and television post production at UCLA, for a year, and worked as an assistant editor on several films, including Rat Race, Freddie Got Fingered, and Saving Silverman. However, he never finished any of the editing projects as acting assignments always arose to supersede them.
Since first spending time in Los Angeles, Peter has come to believe that anything can be accomplished. He has been thrilled to develop friendships with several actors he has admired, including Sung Kang and Jason Scott Lee, and he considers himself blessed to have worked with and gotten to know Pat Morita, his childhood idol, shortly before Pat passed away. Peter studied acting at the East-West Players conservatory and he earned the lead in the Northwest Asian American Theater’s production of Exit the Dragon, by Eric Michael Zee, produced by Ming Na.
While Peter spent the last decade, based in Vancouver, he has now relocated to Los Angeles on a permanent basis. His hope is to honor his Asian heritage while destroying the stereotypes, which have often plagued Asian performers.