Congratulations to Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung
Written by Jennifer J. Lau
Photography by George Pimentel
This past weekend at Comic Con in San Diego, Marvel announced that Simu Liu, our very own Chinese-Canadian TV star best known for his role in Kim’s Convenience, is the newest addition to the Marvel family. He will be the lead star in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — the first Asian superhero in the Marvel series. And he is in great company. Crazy Rich Asians & The Farewell’s Awkwafina and the award-winning Asian superstar Tony Leung Chiu-Wai will co-star with Simu on this journey. Quoting our Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Lau-Yu, “Worlds collide and we couldn’t be more excited for this. […] The coming together of international talent and diversity that speaks to our complex mixed identities.”
For many Chinese in North America and especially Chinese Canadians, this is a milestone to remember. Many second-generation children grew up watching Tony Leung, who has won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor in 1994, 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2004 — the equivalent the Oscars in America. He starred in films including Infernal Affairs《無間道》, 2046, In the Mood for Love 《花樣年華》, Hard Boiled 《辣手神探》, A City of Sadness 《悲情城市》, and Chungking Express 《重慶森林》 to name a few. That being said, the themes and settings were always in Asia and the main language of exchange: Cantonese. Often times, these films could only be watched on DVD/VCD at home or in Asia, if one happened to visit. This will be a special moment to see him in action closer to home and his first in Hollywood, as well as to have a different audience witness his talent in a new context.
While Awkwafina may be a relatively newer name to the silver screen, she represents a whole generation of second-generation diaspora children in America and North America. Young, female, and unafraid to try new things, Awkwafina has earned her place in our hearts: from her roles as the humourous, blunt Peik Lin, and good friend to Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians, to a young and talented pick-pocket teammate in Ocean’s 8 alongside Sandra Bullock and Rhianna, and most recently a genuine and loving granddaughter in The Farewell, her most powerful performance to date. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see her in Shang-Chi.
Lastly, Simu is a proud Canadian who grew up in Toronto. Fête Chinoise first encountered Simu through fu-GEN Theatre Company, when he attended one of our Signature Events in Toronto. And we learn more and more each day about how much he deeply cares about diversity and Asian representation. He is outspoken about this issue in numerous media outlets and is active in the community as well. Most recently, he and other popular creatives and producers such as Phil Wang from Wong Fu Productions, brought the Greater Toronto community together at the Night It Up! Event to raise funds for charity — at a celebrity classic basketball game organized by CCYAA in benefit for the Jeremy Lin Foundation.
Truly, we are seeing a colliding of worlds we never thought possible to connect, but the time is now and we are here. What was previously only possible to see in separate worlds of film and television which are all individually meaningful in terms of meaning and representation, have come together a magnificent combination to reflect the nuanced, complex, and borderless identity of Chinese diaspora. For many young Chinese-Canadians, the movie will hold a special place in their hearts.