While 2019 may just be starting, we think it's safe to say that this will be British Chinese actress Gemma Chan's year.
After the high of last year's hit rom-com movie Crazy Rich Asians, the actress has found herself in the spotlight with numerous fashion hits on the red carpet, not to mention her attention-grabbing roles in movies such as Mary, Queen of Scots alongside Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, as well as a role in this year's hotly anticipated Captain Marvel movie, which stars Brie Larson.
Closer to home, the Asian beauty is the new cover star of Esquire Singapore's February 2019 issue, where she talks about being in denial about her fame, the importance of diversity in Hollywood and fighting for cultural values in our modern society.
Speaking candidly about diversity in the Western film industry, the actress told the magazine, "I think things are improving in terms of audiences wanting to see more diverse casts, whether that's in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexuality—there's a better balance."
"For me there is a direct link between the way that groups are portrayed in popular culture and in the media and how that group is treated in society—whether that group is normalised and accepted, whether it's ‘otherised'," she emphasised.
But it's also a generational issue, she feels. "We've grown up in times when we haven't felt particularly under threat in the way previous generations have and really now it's the first time we're being told we have to fight for our values," she said. Personally, she revealed in the interview that she too, took a long time to reconcile with her heritage. "I remember wishing I wasn't different and it's only since I've been older that I've been comfortable embracing any heritage, of which I'm very proud," the actress said. "I feel British, of course, but accepting my Chinese heritage has only come with time."
Of her burgeoning fame, Chan is decidedly circumspect and maintains that she still holds the same values dear as when she started in the industry almost a decade ago.
"I think I'm slightly in denial about my own celebrity. Maybe. But I just refuse to do anything differently," Chan said. "I just want to live a normal life—very much so for my own sanity. What's important to me now is what was important 10 years ago. I hope that's sustainable. It helps living in London—as opposed to the bubble of LA—because here kind of no one gives a shit. And I try not to pay any attention [to more invasive press coverage] because I think that would drive you mad."
For the full interview and more, head to esquiresg.com
The February 2019 issue of Esquire Singapore is on newsstands this Friday.