INTERVIEW: Simu Liu Talks Memoir Writing and Chris Hemsworth’s Biceps at BoxLunch Holiday Gala
To Simu Liu, sharing the story of his family was a way to normalize the experience of Asian immigrants in North America. “I had all sorts of doubts and anxieties as a 31-year-old writing a memoir,” he says, “but ultimately there’s a lot of value in sharing our stories—especially now, when anti-Asian violence and hate and discrimination is really spiking.”
I spoke to Liu on the red carpet at the 2022 BoxLunch Gala honoring Feeding America, where he was serving his inaugural stint as BoxLunch’s 2022 Giving Ambassador. Along with playing Marvel’s Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Liu is the author of We Were Dreamers, a memoir about his family’s experience building a life in Canada and his own rise to stardom.
“I think it’s so important to share our lives, cultures, and stories,” Liu told me, speaking about his memoir. “When other Asian kids experience the pain and confusion that I went through growing up, I want them to know that they’re not alone, that someone has walked these steps before them. I also just want to normalize us to the world, since so much of our experience in this country is being othered, being told we don’t belong here. We Were Dreamers is a story of a family that crossed an ocean and built a home here to pursue their dreams.”
But Liu is also looking ahead to his future with Marvel in Shang-Chi 2 and beyond. Although Marvel has sworn him to secrecy on most details about Shang-Chi’s place in the Multiverse Saga, Liu was able to share one personal goal he has for the character.
“Twice the bicep!” he said. “If you look at [Chris] Hemsworth, he just doubles in size in every single Thor movie. I don’t know if it’s physically possible for me to get as big as him, but I’m a big admirer of his. I’ll definitely be in the gym, trying to look my very best.” The Covid pandemic shut down production on the first Shang-Chi just before Liu’s famous shirtless caged fight scene, and Liu said he’s determined to make up for the fact that he only had two weeks to bulk back up when production started again.
Later in the evening, when he presented Feeding America with a $200,000 award for their work providing meals to people in need, Liu also talked about how food insecurity has touched him personally. “The pandemic has adversely affected many communities and families of color, and I felt that within circles of people my parents and extended family knew,” Liu said. “I witnessed just how difficult things have been over the last couple of years.”
BoxLunch, a retailer selling licensed pop culture merchandise, provides one meal for someone in need for every $10 spent on its products. At the gala, BoxLunch honored several food banks and nonprofits, including Feeding America and the Saint Frances Center in Los Angeles. As BoxLunch’s Giving Ambassador, Liu’s photo will grace BoxLunch storefronts around the country.
Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, runs a national network of food banks to combat the rising rate of food insecurity in the US. On the red carpet, Liu shared a message for any Marvel fans who might be experiencing food insecurity themselves.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out,” he said. “There’s help out there. There are organizations like Feeding America that are really fantastic, that are all about giving access to people with their dignity intact. Sometimes we just need a hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”
(featured image: Julia Glassman)
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