Simu Liu opens up about repairing his relationship with his immigrant parents after childhood trauma

  • Simu Liu has opened up about his complicated relationship history with his immigrant parents in an interview with People.
  • Cultural differences and expectations for him to be perfect caused a rift earlier on, later exacerbated by his B-average performance in school. 
  • "As I've gotten older, I've found empathy as to what they were going through at the time. We've come so far," he says.

Simu Liu has opened up about making peace with his parents, who he once considered the “worst parents in the world” after mutual trauma and cultural differences caused a rift early on in his life. 

The “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star shared his story in an interview with People in light of his newly released memoir “We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Story.”

 

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At the age of 4, Liu was uprooted from his life in China where he was raised by his grandparents to live with his parents, Zhenning and Zheng, in Canada.

“With my grandparents, I felt completely safe,” recalled Liu, who lost both of them to COVID last year. “To me that’s what home is.”

 

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Reflecting back to this moment, he says his parents were thrilled to have him rejoin them but that it was “very clear” they wouldn’t be able to provide the same environment that his grandparents had. 

Cultural differences with his immigrant parents as well as their expectations for him to be perfect frequently led to fighting and prompted his rebellious teenager phase. 

A drop in his academic performance to a B-average later worsened his situation at home, as it led to screaming matches and physical punishment. “I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got the worst parents in the world.’ I felt so alone. Nobody could understand what I was enduring at home,” he told People. 

It took graduating from business school and getting a job at Deloitte for Liu to feel as though his parents were proud of him for the first time in years. 

The moment was short-lived, however, as Liu was fired from the company nine months down the line and decided to pursue acting. Landing his breakout role in “Kim’s Convenience” in 2017 eventually prompted the journey towards healing for both Liu and his parents. 

“We weren’t fighting, but at the same time we hadn’t collectively chosen to dive back into our trauma and how we were all individually affected by it,” he was quoted as saying about that point in his life. 

For his mother Zheng’s 60th birthday, Liu dove into his feelings in a “heartfelt” eight-page letter. He described feeling nervous as he presented her the letter and made sure to clarify that it “comes from a place of love.”

“It was the first time we really talked about those issues,” he said. “We both acknowledged that we were flawed human beings trying to do our best.”

Zheng has since become one of Liu’s “closest friends,” he said.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found empathy as to what they were going through at the time. We’ve come so far,” he said. “When we’re young, we think of parents as just monolithic, all-powerful beings that don’t change. It’s such an incredible thing watching our parents change and grow and mature in their own way.”

Recently, the actor has taken his parents with him to London, sharing a series of photos from the trip to Instagram. In a post for Mother’s Day, he reflects back on the time Zheng had taken him to London as a teen when a fight caused them to spend their last day apart. 

“I had like 60 pounds of spending money and I bought a shirt and then went to the aquarium. Suffice to say we’re making up for it this time around, with a little bit more disposable income to boot,” he wrote.

 

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Featured Image via @simuliu / Instagram

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