Simu Liu gracefully hit back at a video that discussed whether he was attractive enough to portray the first Asian Marvel superhero.
In a post shared in Asian American Facebook group “Subtle Asian Traits,” the “Kim’s Convenience” actor responded last week to a video by the YouTube channel Asian Boss, which featured street interviews with Chinese people who were asked if he was “too ugly” to be cast in the upcoming “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Liu wrote that he has had “people question me my entire life.”
“A lot of teachers thought I’d never amount to anything, a lot of producers, directors, writers AND costars have questioned my acting ability, and I’ve been rejected from countless conservatories, grants, programs, etc. I’ve been second-guessed at every single possible step of my career,” he said. “The reason why I’m still standing is because I’m singularly focused, I have the utmost belief in my abilities and I refuse to let the opinions of others define me.”
In the video, an Asian Boss reporter asks passersby to rate Liu on attractiveness and asks them to assess whether they feel he fits Chinese beauty standards. The clip touches on little else outside of Liu’s physical features.
Liu, who acknowledged that he’s “never been called ugly so many times in my entire life,” explained in his post that it’s almost impossible to avoid voices of doubt. However, he copes with the haters by accepting the critics.
“For me, it’s never been about trying to shut the voices out - it’s a fruitless effort (especially if people happen to be making Youtube videos about it lol). Rather, it’s about learning to let the voices exist and be OKAY with it,” he said. “I’m still doing my thing, and I’m still over the moon happy I get this amazing opportunity.”
While Liu said he won’t allow the haters to take away from his casting and excitement around the film, he did add that the video could’ve addressed far more legitimate reasons for audiences to discuss the upcoming movie, namely the at-times problematic source material the movie is based on.
When Marvel had announced that “Shang-Chi” was in the works, many Chinese viewers took issue with the origins of the storyline, namely the superhero’s father in the comics, Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu had historically symbolized “yellow peril,” painting Asians as a threat to the West. While Marvel announced that The Mandarin, another character of Chinese descent played by Tony Leung, would serve as the villain in the movie, some fans were concerned that the character would be plagued with the same stereotypes attached to Fu Manchu.
“I sincerely hope this Youtube channel will attack topics with a bit more journalistic and creative integrity in the future... there are a lot of real and valid reasons why audiences find Shang Chi’s source material to be controversial and I love the discussion that’s taking place,” Liu wrote. “This... not so much.”