Like many Asians living in countries where English is spoken by a majority of the population, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu says revealed it took him a lot of time and patience before he could learn to appreciate his name.
A common insecurity: In a new interview, Liu, who is Chinese Canadian, admitted he did not like the name his parents had given him when he was growing up. At the time, he “would have given anything” to anglicized it.
- Born in Harbin, China, Liu immigrated with his parents to Canada at the age of 5. “I gave my parents a lot of crap and asked, ‘Why didn’t you just name me ‘Steve’ or ‘Tommy?'” the 32-year-old told USA Today.
- Having two names – an Asian one and an “American” one – is something many Asians in English-speaking countries have to live with. While some are more likely to identify with their Asian birth names, others prefer anglicized monikers to better accommodate English speakers.
- Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, who also stars in “Shang-Chi,” is someone who wanted to keep her Asian name. Entering the film industry, she was forced to forgo her Chinese name, Yeoh Choo-Kheng, after a producer told her “no one is going to be able to say” it.
How to pronounce “Shang-Chi”: “Shang-Chi” director Destin Daniel Cretton said he was happy when they included the airplane scene with Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina) in the movie because it showed the experience that many Asians face when introducing themselves with an Asian name.
- In the scene, Shang-Chi teaches Katy how to say his name correctly as she unintentionally butchers the pronunciation, CBR reported. She is only able to get it right after Shang-Chi spells out his name for her.
- “It’s just a really fun way to reveal to an audience that there are multiple ways to pronounce something,” Cretton added. “There’s definitely a Western way and then there’s the actual way that a Chinese-speaking audience would pronounce it.”
- Liu found the scene relatable and shared how he always has to spell his name whenever he orders at Starbucks. “It does certainly require a degree of patience when introducing oneself,” he said.
- The actor then explained how the airplane scene teaches a lesson that not all Asians are the same.
- “That speaks to just how multifaceted our community can be, where you have people who are fully bilingual (and) also have people who have maybe lost that connection with their mother tongue or their parents’ mother tongue,” he said.
Featured Image via Marvel Entertainment