Gemma Chan: ‘We’ve still got a lot of work to do’ to have more equitable representation in movies

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Gemma Chan in “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Gemma Chan believes the movie business has a lot of work to do before it can sustain more equitable representation for women and people of color.

For the September issue of British Vogue, Chan – who was born in London and is of Chinese heritage – is featured among the magazine’s 15 game-changing cover stars for her career, which “has layered talent with moving the needle on race representation on screen.”

The feature praises the Oxford-educated, Drama Centre-trained performer from Kent for the vital visibility of her early work in English TV touchstones like “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock,” her breakout role playing an android in “Humans” and her recent Hollywood breakthrough in the blockbuster hits “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Captain Marvel.”

“One of the most satisfying moments in my professional life was taking my mum and dad to the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ premiere in London,” she told British Vogue. “We all watched it together and were in tears. It was a very emotional, cathartic experience. My mum said she never expected a film like that to get made by Hollywood, one where you could see people like our family up on screen.”

Chan’s father grew up in Hong Kong and worked as an engineer. Her mother, a pharmacist, fled pre-Cultural Revolution Communist China via Hong Kong with her parents and younger sister and grew up in Scotland.

The actor appeared in Josie Rourke’s feature film directorial debut, the 2018 historical drama “Mary Queen of Scots” as Bess of Hardwick, a friend and confidante of Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) and keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots (Saoirse Ronan). As British Vogue notes, the casting showed “how antiquated our notions about race and history can be in art,” especially in film.

“I know the perception is that it’s got a lot easier to make films by or about minorities or women, but it’s actually still difficult. I would like to see a real increase in the diversity of people who are in a position to make decisions,” Chan told British Vogue.

“When you think about who actually has the power to get a project green-lit, it is just a handful of people in Hollywood, and even fewer of those are women, or people of colour or other minorities,” she said. “Until we address those systemic imbalances all the way up the chain, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Chan is in talks to join return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “The Eternals,” to be directed by Chloé Zhao. Deadline has confirmed a deal is in the works, although it’s currently unclear whether Chan would reprise her role of Minn-Erva from “Captain Marvel” or play a new character.

The cinematic adaptation of the Jack Kirby-created comic, “The Eternals,” which has a Nov. 6, 2020, release date, will revolve around superpowered, godlike beings the Celestials and their adversaries, the Deviants, who are locked in a war set millions of years ago. The Celestials experimented on humans, creating both races of immortal spinoffs, per the Marvel mythology.

The cast already includes Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh and Don Lee.

-BAM

 

 

 

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