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Simu Liu, the titular star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero offering, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, addressed the fallout from his recent Instagram post about the cancellation of the cult Canadian comedy Kim’s Convenience during a keynote at the virtual Banff World Media Festival.
“I’m not out to cancel anyone, to end anybody’s career by singling any one person out,” Liu said. Kim’s Convenience co-creators Ins Choi and Kevin White have come under a media spotlight following the cancellation and subsequent comments from Liu and other castmembers regarding issues of inclusion and representation behind the scenes.
Liu, who has exchanged Canadian celebrity status for global stardom with Shang-Chi, said recently that viewing the last episode of Kim’s Convenience on Netflix filled him with sadness. “To see what our show originally stood for and to see such a Canadian success story snuffed out in such an anti-climactic and almost pathetic way, it did not befit a show of that caliber,” he said.
Liu added his Instagram post did not aim to be “incendiary” or overly hostile. But he did want to speak up for more onscreen East Asian representation. “People have been telling me to suck it up and be grateful for my entire career, and certainly during the entire run of the show. I can see how I may have come off as entitled and spoiled. But I built a brand and a career on being outspoken,” Liu said.
Liu was born in China and immigrated to Canada when he was 5, growing up in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. His first screen credit was as an extra in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, but he became known for Kim’s Convenience, a series about a Korean immigrant family running a Toronto convenience store.
He also co-starred in Blood and Water, a Canadian crime drama that mixed English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The part earned him a Canadian Screen Award and ACTRA nominations. Other credits include Orphan Black, Fresh Off the Boat and the Taken TV series.
Liu was full of praise for the creative contrast between Kim’s Convenience and Shang-Chi, which also stars Crazy Rich Asians‘ Awkwafina and veteran actor Tony Leung. Destin Daniel Cretton directs the stand-alone movie for Marvel Studios, which hopes Shang-Chi can be a cultural breakthrough in the same way that Black Panther film was in 2018.
Wonder Woman 1984 screenwriter Dave Callaham penned the script for Shang-Chi and updated the character for modern audiences.
“What surprised me was, from day one, we were a part of the conversation. As a castmember coming in, I expected to just show up and act. We were able to sit down and have creative conversations about lines, and feedback I gave about the story made it more distinctly Asian American,” Liu recalled.
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