In just a few short years, Simu Liu has gone from Canadian sitcom actor to international movie star.
Despite how big his fame grows or how many achievement he racks up in Hollywood, for Canadians, he’ll always be ours. In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, let’s run down just a few of the many reasons everyone loves Simu Liu.
1. He Manifested His Own Destiny
It’s not everyone who can make a dream come true with a simple tweet, yet Simu Liu made it happen. Way back in 2014, before he was even cast in his breakout role in “Kim’s Convenience”, Simu Liu issued a tweet targeting Marvel, asking when the studio was going to get around to introducing a superhero of Asian descent. Five years later, he was announced as the star of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Hey @Marvel, great job with Cpt America and Thor. Now how about an Asian American hero?
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 17, 2014
When Marvel announced plans to adapt the “Shang-Chi” comic series for a movie in 2018, Liu once again tweeted at Marvel. What he never expected, however, was that he was on the studio’s radar. He was invited to audition, and then landed the part.
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 21, 2019
“What was definitely not going through my head was, ‘Hey, I’m going to tweet Marvel and they’re going to get back to me, and I’m going to get this role,'” he admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
2. He Has Big Love for Where He Came From
Simu Liu was born Harbin, China, but grew up in Toronto, and remains a staunch supporter of “The 6ix” — so much so that he appeared in a “Destination Toronto” tourism ad.
Speaking with Narcity Toroto, he outlined some of his many favorite things about the city, including the Toronto Night Market, his fave Toronto restaurants and the city’s vibrant theatre scene — which provided him his start.
“Toronto is very much a mosaic of all different stories, tastes and perspectives coming together and coexisting,” he said. “I truly think it’s one of the most special places on earth.”
3. He’s the Toronto Raptors’ Unofficial Ambassador
While Drake has established himself as the pre-eminent super fan of the Toronto Raptors, Simu Liu is running a close second. In fact, a movement is afoot that has fans urging the Raptors to enact a changing of the guard, so to speak, so that Liu replaces Drake as the team’s official global ambassador.
— 43 Cent (@nasimali) January 19, 2022
Liu is certainly doing his part — he even appeared in a special promo for the team when the Raptors made it into the NBA playoffs.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 16, 2022
4. He’s Deeply Proud of His Asian Heritage
Since his earliest days as an actor, Simu Liu has leaned into his Asian heritage.
“We need more public figures [who] are more unapologetically Asian: People who are willing to wear that ethnicity or cultural identity proudly. It’s something that I struggled with a lot as a kid growing up, because we were constantly made fun of for being different,” Liu said during a 2019 appearance on ComicCon.
“What I think has been happening in the last few years — and [‘Kim’s Convenience’] is playing a huge part in this as well — is normalizing Asian-ness. Not just normalizing it, but turning it into something positive, something to be proud of.”
That pride was particularly evident while he was promoting “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
5. He’s Using His Superpowers for Good
Simu Liu is a firm believer in using his celebrity status for for the betterment of good causes. Among his various philanthropic efforts over the years have been a $100,000 donation to the hunger-fighting nonprofit Feed America, hosting a celebrity basketball game in Toronto to raise money for the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletic Association and last but not least, his role as an ambassador for UNICEF Canada.
“I am so excited to partner with UNICEF Canada as their newest Ambassador, to help shed a light on children in need both in Canada and around the world,” Liu said. “I believe in every child’s right to a childhood and am proud to lend my voice and share my experiences to help in any way that I can,” says Liu. “UNICEF Canada is unparalleled when it comes to impacting global change and helping the most vulnerable children in the hardest to reach places and I am honored to be working with them.”
6. He Loves Supporting Asian-Owned Businesses
Another way in which Simu Liu makes good use of his fame is by promoting Asian-owned businesses.
Happy start of Asian Heritage Month everyone! Join me in celebrating by supporting Asian-owned businesses and ordering boba and soup dumplings for dinner tonight! This is totally not something I do personally two to three times a week… yeah…
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) May 1, 2022
He’s even singled out specific businesses, such as the time he garnered a load of free PR to an Asian-owned Toronto eatery when he stopped in and ordered a sandwich.
7. He’s Not Afraid to Call Out Racism
As an Asian-Canadian, Simu Liu has experienced his share of racism, and he’s made it clear that’s something he will not stand for. He bluntly detailed his experiences in his 2022 memoir, We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story.
“Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Canada, and I believe that it is a tolerant place. I’ve loved the range of people and the diversity of experiences that I’ve come to know in my home country,” he wrote. “But at the same time, I have been called a ch***, and I have been told to go back to China. Canada is not unilaterally friendly, nor is ‘friendly’ even something that an entire country can be. Sometimes, it feels a bit like we try to cover up our uncomfortable truths with a veneer of tolerance and inclusion.”
8. He’s Not Afraid to Call Out Anyone or Anything, Either
If there’s one thing that Simu Liu has demonstrated on social media is that it’s not wise to mess with Simu Liu on social media.
That was clear when he battled a hacker who infiltrated his Twitter account and demanded a ransom.
So finally regained my account after a week of wrestling with a hacker. Condolences to anyone who tried to buy a $600 Macbook off of "me". pic.twitter.com/wzXzg5wHzV
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) March 27, 2023
Then there was the time when he called out some “unprofessional” behavior he allegedly experienced while flying Air Canada, singling out a few bad apples as “some of the most unpleasant and miserable unprofessional human beings on the face of the earth.”
9. He Normalizes Talking About Mental Health
Simu Liu is among the growing number of celebrities to candidly discuss his own struggles with mental health, as a way of both de-stigmatizing the topic and opening a larger conversation about mental health.
That was the case when he took to Twitter to reveal he’d been undergoing therapy.
About to start regular sessions with a therapist for the first time and quite honestly pretty incredible that I get to force someone to listen to my problems once a week and occasionally provide input??
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) August 31, 2022
He also celebrated his 34rd birthday by admitting the previous year had been “a bit of a s**show,” but he’d managed to keep himself together thanks “therapy and a great support system.”
10. He’s Hilarious!
It’s no secret that Simu Liu is a funny, funny guy, and he’s demonstrated his hilarious sense of humor on numerous occasions.
In fact, some of his funniest onscreen moments have been musical ones, such as the time he performed a Nashville-themed rendition of a 50 Cent rap on “The Tonight Show”.
Perhaps Liu’s most hilarious moments, though, have come during his stints as host of the Juno Awards, such as his now-iconic “I Am Canadian” speech, and serenading Avril Lavigne with a song-parody medley of her hits.
11. He’s Not Afraid To Go Above and Beyond for a Role
With Simu Liu soon to be seen in his most uncharacteristic role yet, in the upcoming “Barbie” movie. Playing a plastic doll presented several challenges for Liu to overcome, not least of which was giving his body a plastic-like smoothness by enduring full-body waxing.
“Waxing has been an education to say the least,” Liu told The Independent. “It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I have such a newfound admiration for the incredibly brave women who go through this on a monthly basis.”
12. He’s Been Simpson-ized
In November 2022, Simu Liu experienced a celebrity rite of passage by voicing a character on “The Simpsons”.
In the flash-forward episode, set after Lisa Simpson graduates from college, Liu played tech billionaire Hubert Wong, who spends $20 million to develop a space suit that allows them to kiss when he pops the question on the Moon.