Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea
Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea

Erin Lindsay

Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor
Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor

Sarah Finnan

The dos and don’ts of supporting someone who might be suicidal
The dos and don’ts of supporting someone who might be suicidal

Erin Lindsay

‘You’re suddenly painfully aware of the fragility of all that is being asked of you as a mother’
‘You’re suddenly painfully aware of the fragility of all that is being asked of you...

Amanda Cassidy

What you need to know about Olivia Rodrigo and that plagiarism backlash
What you need to know about Olivia Rodrigo and that plagiarism backlash

Jennifer McShane

One of our readers’ favourite Irish homes from ‘IMAGE interiors’ is now on the market
One of our readers’ favourite Irish homes from ‘IMAGE interiors’ is now on the market

Lauren Heskin

Naomi Osaka has just launched her own skin care brand, specifically for people of colour
Naomi Osaka has just launched her own skin care brand, specifically for people of colour

Sarah Finnan

We love the warm tones and sculptural details of this Sandymount extension
We love the warm tones and sculptural details of this Sandymount extension

Megan Burns

Women’s education bursary set up in memory of the late Marian Finucane
Women’s education bursary set up in memory of the late Marian Finucane

Sarah Finnan

What to do when your career goes to plan but you’re still not happy
What to do when your career goes to plan but you’re still not happy

Colette Sexton

Image / Living / Culture

Gemma Chan has addressed her controversial earlier on-screen role


by Holly O'Neill
11th Aug 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

blank

"Would I necessarily make the same choices now? Maybe not."

Gemma Chan has reflected on earlier roles in her career in an interview with British Vogue, including a controversial episode from the BBC series Sherlock.

Gemma Chan says she was warned by her teachers at drama school that she would have difficulty finding roles in Britain but that she chose to stay, rationalizing, “Well, the thing is, if everyone just leaves and goes elsewhere, then what’s going to change?”

Staying meant she had years of trying “every job going – bit parts, one line parts, anything,” including an episode of Sherlock in 2010 in which she played “a witheringly stereotypical damsel in distress,” says British Vogue. In the episode, she speaks with a heavy Chinese accent, wears Chinese traditional dress and plays a Chinese pottery expert working at the invented National Antiquities Museum in London. The episode was accused of “being a racially tone-deaf exercise in orientalism, with Chan cast as the wilting lotus blossom,” says British Vogue.

“Would I necessarily make the same choices now, if given the choice? Maybe not. I think I would speak up more if I felt that a role was leaning into an orientalist trope of some sort,” says Chan. “I’m much more aware. And I think I’m in more of a position where I could say something. With complete respect to everyone involved… I’m not here to throw shade on anyone… but yeah, I totally hear what you’re saying. The industry has really shifted, even in just the time that I’ve been working. Changing the actual culture – changing in practice – takes longer.”

Chan says she hopes her work will open doors for other Asian actors to further change the industry. “There’s a way that you can honour the spirit of your ancestors by actually trying to do something different, which I know is a privilege,” she says. “This is the argument I tried to put to my parents back then, when things were tough: hopefully, you work to make sure the next generation has even more of a chance to do something different and change things for the better for the rest of the community, or the next generation after that. That’s something I feel in my bones. I want a rising tide to lift all boats.”

Photography by @gemma_chan.

Also Read

blank
CULTURE
9 brilliant books being made into TV shows this year

Find a cozy spot and tuck into our 2021 book hit list before each one is made into a popular...

By Shayna Sappington

Siobhan Lam Samsung
INTERIORS
‘When your business is in design, good camera quality is essential’: Siobhan Lam on running interiors business April and the Bear

Running her shop, e-tailer and interior design business means Siobhan Lam of April and the Bear has to be able...

By Lauren Heskin

blank
CULTURE
All the drama behind the Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney court case

The wife of former England captain Wayne Rooney is being sued for libel after accusing fellow footballer’s wife of leaking...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
CULTURE
Disney’s attack on Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow lawsuit is incredibly gendered

Since Scarlett Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney for allegedly violating an agreement to exclusively release Black Widow in theaters,...

By Jennifer McShane

say no
CULTURE
Palace staffers apparently ‘rescinded’ those Meghan Markle bullying claims

The Duchess originally denied all allegations of bullying, and now, there’s a new update.Two Buckingham Palace staffers who accused Meghan...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
CULTURE
7 comforting films worth watching to take your mind off the news

We need respite from much of the news right now and this edit hits all the right notes.To that end,...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
CULTURE
8 engrossing Netflix picks worth watching this weekend

For a pandemic pause, Netflix has an array of standout offerings to enjoy (some on this list are even worth...

By Jennifer McShane