The world was divided when Marvel announced that Chinese Canadian actor, Simu Liu (劉思慕), will be the first Asian American superhero, playing Shang-Chi in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While many fans expressed their happiness for Simu, who has struggled to make a name in Hollywood since 2012, some fans did not hold back in saying that they are disappointment, arguing that Simu is “too ugly” to be a Marvel superhero.
In a YouTube video titled “Is The Asian Lead For Marvel ‘Too Ugly’ For Chinese People,” passersby in Beijing were shown pictures of Simu and were asked about to rate his attractiveness. Reactions were mixed, with some pointing out that there are different beauty standards for Chinese men in the West.
One street interviewee said, “Chinese and Americans have different ideals of what Chinese men should look like. For example, if this were a Chinese superhero movie, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the role. But he got cast in Hollywood, so his looks must fit the Americans’ view on what Chinese men should look like.”
In a Facebook post shared on the closed group Subtle Asian Traits, Simu clapped back at the video with a graceful—yet also vulnerably inspirational—response. “Not the best way to wake up,” said Simu. “3.5 [rating] and they pronounced my name wrong!”
Simu continued, “I think this is a very teachable moment. I’ve 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.
“The reason why I’m still standing is because I’m singularly focused, I have the utmost believe in my abilities and I refuse to let the opinions of others define me. In your careers, in your lives, no matter where you go, you will always encounter voices of doubt. Some will come from people who are frighteningly close to you. Are you going to let those voices own you? Define you? Keep you from achieving what you want?
“That isn’t to say you can’t have bad days, and that you shouldn’t use your support systems and talk about how you feel like I’m doing right now. I’ve never been called ugly so many times in my entire life! 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. I’m still doing my thing, and I’m still over the moon happy I get this amazing opportunity.
“I’m not going [to let] a few voices of doubt ruin that for me, and neither should you, in whatever you are pursuing in your life. Bet on yourself. Own your greatness. Take that spotlight.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also stars Awkwafina and Tony Leung (梁朝偉).
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.