Gemma Chan on capturing the first Chinese-American Hollywood star’s ‘complex woman’

Gemma Chan hopes the upcoming biopic about Anna May Wong, believed to be the first Chinese-American Hollywood actress, will capture the “complex woman she was.”

The 39-year-old Eternals actress will direct the film and portray the late Wong in the new project.

Wong’s career spanned film, television, stage and radio, playing roles alongside Marlene Dietrich until her death in 1961.


Anna May Wong’s career has spanned film, television, stage and radio (Cecil Beaton/Sotheby’s/PA)

Chan, who features on the September cover of Harper’s Bazaar UK, told the magazine about Wong’s resilience in the industry despite facing biased perceptions.

She said: “Their struggles and triumphs are a reflection of the conversations we still have now.

“She was considered a perpetual foreigner even though she was a third-generation American.

“The only thing I can say about her is that she was never a victim.

“She was incredibly funny, a fighter and had a zest for life. I hope our film will capture the complex woman that she was.”

Chan, who has starred in a number of blockbusters including 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians and 2021’s Eternals, believes that power structures within the industry that constrain Wong remain in place today.


Gemma Chan (Josh Shinner/Harper’s Bazaar UK/PA)

She said: “It’s really difficult to speak out in my industry with the power structures that exist there.

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“I know that you can be punished in such a way that your livelihood is gone.

“Even if you’re trying to do the right thing and speak out against bad behavior, all it takes is someone to misinterpret what you’re saying or decide you’re causing trouble…

“It’s a hierarchical form of word-of-mouth in which bad behavior is traditionally condoned.

“There is a lot of fear. It’s hard to change this culture. That takes years.”

The actress will also star in upcoming psychological thriller ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ alongside Harry Styles and Florence Pugh.

The September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK is available from July 28th. Gemma Chan on capturing the first Chinese-American Hollywood star’s ‘complex woman’

Fry Electronics Team

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