Simu Liu, who became the first Asian superhero in a Marvel movie, says he is still struggling to process his success. In his new memoir, “We Were Dreamers”, the actor describes his rise to fame as an immigrant child, and explains how his family life was far from ordinary and often tumultuous.
“I will be unapologetic about who I am and where I come from,” Liu told CBS News correspondent Nancy Chen. “I will become a representative.”
Liu spent his early years in China and was left in the care of his grandparents after his parents emigrated to Canada for graduate school. At the age of about four and a half, Liu says his father returned to China to move to Canada as well.
“I was sold on this utopia that was like, ‘This is all you ever wanted,’ but I had everything I ever wanted,” he said.
Life with his parents in Toronto instead brought unrest, both physically and verbally. The actor sometimes called his childhood a war zone.
“Home was not a safe space for me, especially in those teenage years,” Liu Chen said. “I went to school to escape from home and I would find reasons to hang out with my friends so I didn’t have to come home.”
In his book, he explores the pain of his childhood and interviews his parents. He now says that his relationship with her is strong, and he considers her his best friends.
“I want to talk about the things that happened in the hope that families like us will read it and choose to do better,” he said.
Throughout his childhood, Liu recalled fantasy films that served as a source of escape, saying he appreciated characters such as Luke Skywalker from the classic movie “Star Wars.”
“I imagined myself in that situation,” Liu told Skywalker. “I wanted to be that man.”
However, he later attended business school instead of being fired for only eight months to work as an accountant at Deloitte. He said it was a liberating moment that drove him to pursue his acting dream.
In 2016, the actor landed a role in the CBC sitcom “Kim’s Convenience,” which follows the life of a Korean-Canadian family who owns a convenience store in Toronto.
Not long after that, Liu was up for the role of Shang-Chi in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. During the audition period, he reminded himself of receiving words of encouragement from his family.
“My mother said, ‘Whether you get this job or not, it does not change how much we love you. It’s just a matter of time for you. We believe in you,'” he advertised. “And that was all I needed to hear. I felt alone, like this kind of lonely wolf person against the world. I had done pretty well for myself, but I just felt like with the support of my family behind me and my community, I mean, I could do anything. “
Liu said his performance in the groundbreaking film could realize his childhood dream. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, hosted “Saturday Night Live” and presented at the Academy Awards. After that, the actor is set to appear in the upcoming “Barbie” movie alongside stars Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie and America Ferrera.
Liu says he hopes his success will help create more representation for Asian people in Hollywood.
“I want to tell the stories that are really important so that children, Asian children, who are watching today, can turn on the television and feel like we never did, that is, ‘This is made for me,'” he said.