To Simu Liu, sharing her family’s story was a way to normalize the experience of Asian immigrants in North America. “I had all sorts of doubts and anxieties when I was writing my memoirs at 31,” he says, “but ultimately there is a lot of value in sharing our stories, especially now, when anti-violence -Asian people, hatred and discrimination are really on the peak.
I spoke to Liu on the red carpet at the 2022 BoxLunch gala honoring Feeding America, where he was making his first stint as BoxLunch’s 2022 Giving Ambassador. In addition to playing Marvel’s Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsLiu is the author of We were dreamersa memoir about his family’s experience building his life in Canada and his own rise to stardom.
“I think it’s so important to share our lives, our cultures and our stories,” Liu told me, talking about her memoir. “When other Asian children go through the pain and confusion that I experienced growing up, I want them to know that they are not alone, that someone has gone through these steps before them. I also just want to normalize us to the world, because a lot of our experience in this country is altered, we’re told we don’t belong here. We were dreamers is the story of a family who crossed an ocean and built a home here to pursue their dreams.
But Liu also considers his future with Marvel in Shang Chi 2 and beyond. Although Marvel has sworn to him to secrecy on most details regarding Shang-Chi’s place in the Multiverse SagaLiu was able to share a personal goal he has for the character.
“Twice the biceps!” he said. “If you look [Chris] Hemsworth, he just doubles in size every time Thor film. I don’t know if it’s physically possible for me to become as tall as him, but I’m a big fan of him. I will definitely be in the gym, trying to be my best. The Covid pandemic stopped production the first Shang Chi right before Liu’s famous shirtless cage fight scene, and Liu said he was determined to make up for the fact that he only had two weeks to get back to volume when production started up again.
Later that evening, when he presented Feeding America with a $200,000 award for his work providing meals to those in need, Liu also spoke about how food insecurity had affected him personally. “The pandemic had negative effects on many communities and families of color, and I felt that in the circles of people my parents and extended family knew,” Liu said. “I’ve seen how difficult things have been over the past two years.”
BoxLunch, a retailer selling licensed pop culture merchandise, provides a meal to someone in need for every $10 spent on its products. At the gala, BoxLunch honored several food banks and nonprofits, including Feeding America and the Saint Frances Center in Los Angeles. As BoxLunch’s donation ambassador, Liu’s photo will adorn the fronts of BoxLunch stores across the country.
Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States, operates a nationwide network of food banks to combat the growing rate of food insecurity in the United States. On the red carpet, Liu shared a message for any Marvel fans who might be suffering from food insecurity themselves.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out,” he said. “There is help out there. There are organizations like Feeding America which are really fantastic, which aim to provide access to people with their dignity intact. Sometimes we just need a helping hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
(featured image: Julia Glassman)
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