In only a few short years, Henry Golding has managed to become one of Hollywood’s most exciting leading men. After winning our hearts in the Jon M. Chu-directed Crazy Rich Asians, the Malaysian-born heartthrob’s career has soared. These days, however, he’s enjoying the most important role he's played to date: father.
Golding, who stars in the upcoming G.I Joe spin-off Snake Eyes (out in July), welcomed a beautiful baby girl with his TV presenter wife, Liv Lo, in March. Needless to say, spending the majority of the pandemic in self-isolation at home with a pregnant wife was a "blessing in disguise." Not only did it bring them closer together, but it also created new memories that will certainly morph into treasured family stories.
Here, Golding talks about what life is like now that he’s a father as well as his new campaign with the payment network Affirm, which will be awarding customers tens of thousands of dollars throughout the month of June toward their next vacation.
What was it like being in quarantine with your wife and experiencing the pregnancy together?
It was the greatest. It was the most time we've ever spent together without traveling somewhere or going off for work. It was a blessing in disguise. We were able to really concentrate on the two of us and create a family.
Not to mention, the experience at the hospital must have been quite different.
It was definitely different because they weren't allowing people, apart from [Liv], into the hospital. So I'd be in the car on Zoom or WhatsApp and video calling all through the scans and everything like that. It was a very different, I'm sure, experience than when things were normal. But it definitely didn't take away from the fact that it was such a remarkable time.
What was it like holding her in your arms for the first time?
Oh, my gosh. It was like a 23- to 24-hour labor process, so by the end of it, the exhaustion and relief was kind of the overall feeling — and the joy of the fact that she's here. She's finally here. It was just so overwhelming seeing her kind of wriggling on my wife's chest as soon as she came out, then she was already holding her head up. It was just remarkable.
Do you have any advice for first-time parents who are also entering it post-pandemic, just like you?
I'm still learning as we go. You're gonna make mistakes, it's gonna be a learning process. Don't stress yourself out about trying to be overly prepared because it will always keep you on your toes and you will never ever feel enough. But know that whatever you're doing is enough. I think people really beat themselves up about it, especially the moms, because there's such a connection with the baby. You feel and you hope that you're doing what you can to help her grow, provide her with the nutrition that she she needs. Don't be too hard on yourselves.
Do you have any favorite lullabies or children's books?
The Gruffalo [by Julia Donaldson] classic. Some of the Dr. Seuss ones, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! classic. I just feel like that book encapsulates the journey of self-trust, you know, and understanding that whatever decision you make, it will bring you to these adventures and you don't necessarily need to follow anybody else’s. People will tell you until they're blue in the face of what to do, but sometimes it takes a gut feeling.
Do you have any favorite travel memories?
One of my earliest travel memories was when we took a family holiday to Cairns, Australia, which is where the Great Barrier Reef is. I must have been about 7 or 8 years old, but I remember specifically it was our first proper holiday [that] wasn’t England or Malaysia. I remember so vividly sitting on a boat and my sister just puking her guts out because she was seasick [laughs]. And my mom, her going to the Great Barrier Reef and was like, "I can't see anything, the water's so cloudy!" So she's like traveling all the way there without being able to see a thing. It's just one of the fondest memories of experiencing things for the first time. And I think that's what we've all been kind of lacking [during the pandemic] is that joy of travel and the joy of experiencing new things, tasting new, crazy, weird fruits that we've never seen that look like alien kind of inventions. Or wandering around cityscapes, which is so unfamiliar to us, right? We've been trapped for the past year and a half. I think now's the time that we all should be sort of making those plans and getting back out there.
You have a great partnership with Affirm, which is awarding tens of thousands of dollars to people to help fund their own travel memories. How did the partnership come about?
It was such a natural partnership with my sort of old career in travel hosting and traveling the world for work and learning about new cultures and telling stories. My role with Affirm was to reinvigorate and reinspire people and remind them of the joys of getting back out there. Affirm has an amazing way of allowing people to have a structured and very transparent view on their finances so you don't overstep your boundaries. Because, you know, we all get carried away. We all want to go on like, "Hey, I want to do this South African Safari. Yeah! Whatever it costs it doesn't matter. Just put it on the card." And you forget about it. With Affirm, it's really about structuring all of your finances in one place and being really visible and making you understand it's like, "Right, maybe we can stretch a little bit here," or, you know, push a little bit more for accommodation. It was a natural joint venture, really.
I, for one, understand the value of travel and I understand the medicine for the soul that it gives. Something we've all got to look out for is mental health. Nothing fixes mental health like sitting on a beach with a coconut. And then having your feet massaged, let the sunbeams in. Do I need to go on more? But again, sometimes that's not for people. Sometimes losing themselves and being in a country like, say, Japan, where you have no inkling as to what's being written on the wall, you don't understand the language, you are lost. In that mist of not understanding, there's this silence. … You build this bliss. … That's what I miss.
Now that you're a parent, traveling must look different to you because you have to consider the little one, right?
It takes a tremendous amount longer to pack, for one. It's not like half an hour before the taxi arrives. It's like a good solid two hours of making sure we got enough nappies, we got the play mat, we have the endless amount of onesies that we have to pack. It’s never ending. It's just preplanning, getting to the airport literally three hours early.
What are the biggest life lessons you want to instill in your daughter?
I think to have a mind of your own. I think it's so important to be outspoken. Allow people to understand how you feel, rather than bending yourself to other people's will. I think being outspoken, going against the grain, going with your gut, being a good person. If you have all those attributes, you can't go wrong. It’s do things without malicious intent and understand repercussions. Just be a person. Don't be an asshole. I think that's probably my best advice. Life is good if you're not an asshole. I wish more parents taught their kids that. Maybe I should write a kid's book, Don't Be an Asshole. I think I’m on to something…
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