Actor Simu Liu has hit entertainment headlines recently for his involvement in the upcoming Barbie movie, in which he will star alongside Hollywood A-lister Margot Robbie. While Liu’s role in the movie hasn’t yet been disclosed (rumors abound that he will be playing Barbie’s boyfriend Ken), he has been talking about the painful full-body waxing he’s had to undergo to star in a film full of smooth and hairless dolls.
But that’s not the most attention-grabbing headline that could be written about Simu Liu’s career in TV and film. What’s much more interesting and remarkable is that, until 2012, he was working as an accountant. Within the space of ten years, he has gone from having zero acting roles to becoming a star of TV and cinema, as well as being the first Asian actor to lead a movie in the legendary Marvel series, and has been named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022.
So how did this incredible journey begin?
Born in China in 1989 to a Chinese mother and an Indian father, Liu came to Ontario, Canada, at the age of five. His academic career led to his studying business administration. He graduated in 2011, and began working as an accountant at Deloitte, but was laid off in 2012. Deloitte’s loss was the world’s gain, however, as Liu began looking around for career options he would find much more fulfilling.
Having already experienced working as a shirtless greeter for Abercombie and Fitch, and doing stints as superheroes at kids’ birthday parties, he now ventured into a role along not-too-dissimilar lines as a stuntman and extra in TV, clocking up stints in music videos for artists such as Fallout Boy and Avicii. His first recurring role on TV was from 2015-2018 in crime drama ‘Blood and Water’, for which he received industry awards in Canada.
A main character performance also came in 2015, when he was cast as Jung Kim in the sitcom ‘Kim’s Convenience’. By 2019, Liu had been cast in his first starring role in a Hollywood movie, playing Shang-Chi in Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’. Not only a huge boost for the actor personally, but also an important development for representation, as he was the first Asian to play a main character in a Marvel movie. This groundbreaking achievement was honored at the Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards with a win in the ‘Game Changer’ category.
This year, Simu Liu became an ambassador for UNICEF Canada, who are working to help children in need both in Canada and around the world. His inspiring story will also no doubt encourage many children and young people to take a chance and pursue their dreams.