‘We should be proud and unapologetic’: ‘Shang-Chi’ stars celebrate film’s impact on the AAPI community

Shang Chi stars talk to NextShark

The stars of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” discussed the lack of AAPI representation in Hollywood, celebrating AAPI culture and why this film is important in our community in an exclusive interview with NextShark. 

“Celebrating Asian-ness”: Actors Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang and director Destin Daniel Cretton came together to create an anticipated hit movie that is a “celebration of who we are,” said Cretton in the interview. 

  • Liu shared that he hopes this film is a “light in the darkness” and that “any negativity and hate is washed away by our equal and opposing force of joy and positivity.” 
  • “We have this incredible movie that is a celebration of Asian-ness and our culture. It’s really empowering to be in this moment. We talk about this movie a lot in terms of firsts. First Asian-led movie in the MCU, first Asian-led massive blockbuster movie. My hope is that it’s not the last and that we have so many that we no longer have any firsts to celebrate. We’re celebrating the fact that we have more work to do,” Liu stated. 
  • The actor also said that it was an “incredible feeling” to work with people “who just share that lived experience and share the knowledge that this [movie] is such a momentous occasion and a very important project. We all just kind of knew what the shared goal was and knew how much was at stake.” 
  • In addition, Cretton revealed he didn’t realize directing an all-Asian cast would make him so emotional and that it was a “very special experience” for him. This movie was the first time he had “experienced being in a room full of creatives” that looked like him and had a similar background. 

Asian superhero: Zhang and Awkwafina are both proud to have been involved in this film because Asian children are able to have a modern superhero that looks like them. 

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  • Zhang shared that she thinks the “world is ready for an Asian superhero” and that it’s “very exciting” that Asian kids who grow up in western countries can have superheroes they can look up to and be able to say, “they look like me.” 
  • “It really is a special movie. For me, I just really wanted to be a part of telling it. I think to see a superhero that you can relate to at all, that you can see part of yourself in is really important. I think this will be the first, but not the last. It has to start here though. I think the world will really see the power of Simu and everything he’s bringing to the role,” said Awkwafina. 
  • “I think it’s a movie that shows so many different characters who all look generally like me, who all have extremely different personalities and show so many sides to what an Asian or Asian American or Chinese American could be and I think the experience of coming in and watching this movie. If you went into it with any preconceived notions or stereotypes or engrained racist ideology somewhere in there, I do think that this movie can help open you up a little bit to that … I hope that people see that we created this for all of us. We feel very proud that we’re putting this into the world,” Cretton said. 

Why it’s important: This film is important to the AAPI community because it shows that “we do belong. We are equal. We should be proud and unapologetic about it as well,” shared Liu. 

  • Cretton stated that this is a “very exciting time to be a minority creative” and that the “industry can only survive if we start to tell stories that really reflect the world around us and having more diverse voices mixed into the industry is a huge part of that evolution.” 
  • “I think that any film that is different [from] what we’ve had, that shines a light on communities that have not had that, is going to affect the production of more. You need to materialize it. I didn’t have a lot of Asian American women growing up except Margaret Cho and Lucy Liu that I could look up to. But the existence of them helped me materialize what I would see as my career later. Anything that we can add to the zeitgeist of the world is going to define the materialization of more,” Awkwafina said. 

Feature Image via NextShark

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