Although his aerospace-engineer parents raised him to pursue a career in STEM—they immigrated to Ontario from China, where he was born—actor Simu Liu couldn’t shake his passion for performing. When he was laid off from his accounting job, he says, “I basically had nothing left to lose.” His big break came in the form of Kim’s Convenience, the Canadian sitcom that charmed audiences for five seasons before its controversial ending this spring.
Liu expressed frustration with how the show wrapped its run in a lengthy Facebook post he published June 2, when season five hit Netflix in the U.S. “The show can’t be ‘saved,’” Liu wrote. “It was not ‘cancelled’ in a traditional manner, i.e. by a network after poor ratings. Our producers (who also own the Kim’s Convenience IP) are the ones who chose not to continue.” Liu went on to accuse the show’s largely white creative team of resisting his suggestions and pitting him and his fellow castmates against one another.
In a follow-up statement released exclusively to Vanity Fair, the actor expanded on his comments, praising the show for breaking new ground and explaining that he never meant to “call anyone out specifically” in his Facebook post. His statement, in full, is reprinted below:
The immigrant experience is rarely depicted in mainstream media in a positive light, and for that very reason, Kim’s Convenience has a very special place in the hearts of countless fans globally—including mine. Kim’s is one of the most unique shows to hit the air, with its focus on individual and communal growth, family, and most importantly: immigrant culture. Kim’s gave me my first opportunity to portray an Asian character with significant story arcs and subtleties that most Western Asian actors can only dream of. The show was integral in allowing me to find my voice and shape the perspective and platform that I now have.
My recent comments on the ending of Kim’s Convenience were never meant to be a massive bombshell exposé, nor was I trying to call anyone out specifically. These were a string of thoughts that came from a deep and personal perspective that is incredibly nuanced.
I am incredibly appreciative of the work that the team put out for the past five seasons. It’s a period of my life that helped shape me in many ways. The entirety of the experience helped me express the passion that I, prior to this project, could not properly articulate: pride. Pride in the individual, pride in one’s culture and heritage, and pride in one’s community. I am proud of everything accomplished during our run and cannot wait to see how the legacy of the show and others like it impact future generations in finding their voice and telling their own stories.
In the meantime, Liu’s moving on to big things: In September, he’ll become the first Asian actor to carry a Marvel film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We spoke with him about his less glamorous superhero past, rubbing elbows with Angelina Jolie, and a particularly humbling Shang-Chi moment.
STARTING OUT, Liu leaned on stunt work—“as an Asian man in the industry, you had to know martial arts”—and performed at children’s birthday parties for extra cash. “I’d dress up as Spider-Man, which has a weird foreshadowing to it. I’d be sure to keep my mask on, because I was Asian and Spider-Man wasn’t Asian.”
DURING THE AUDITION PROCESS for Shang-Chi, Liu started doubting his luck: “Wouldn’t they want that first Asian superhero to be somebody who looked the part a little bit more? What I’ve always really appreciated about MCU superheroes versus elsewhere is that they are trying to disrupt the idea of what a superhero can be.”
FOUR DAYS AFTER Liu booked the role, he was flown to San Diego Comic-Con. “Angelina Jolie walked in with kids and a five-person team, and she’s looking around, and there’s no empty seats anywhere except at my table. The 8,000 fans were fantastic, but having dinner with Angelina Jolie is the mind-blowing, unfathomable Cinderella story. Her kids love video games, and she was having trouble understanding what the games were. I was like, Hold on a second. This is my time to shine. So I spent, actually, the better part of that night trying to explain League of Legends to Angelina Jolie. I guess you could say one of us was giving the advice.”
EVEN WITH AN arsenal of superhero tricks, Liu has mortal moments. “There was a cute girl