Former accountant and award-winning actor Simu Liu has filed his memoir

May 17 2022, 5:00 pm

Simu Liu opens his memoir on July 16th, 2019, with the call from Marvel Studios that would change the course of his life forever. Kevin Feige, President of the company, told him, “We want you to be Shang Chi, man!” 

Confirmed as the newest Avenger, it was a call that took Liu to his knees, and his emotions overtook his body. “I have just fulfilled a dream so inconceivably far-fetched that I may as well have wished for a pet unicorn or a treehouse made of lollipops,” he writes.

While it was a moment that shook Simu to his core, it was also a sign of things moving in the right direction in the entertainment industry. After 24 movies released over a decade, Liu was making history as the first Asian superhero cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

 

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings saw Simu appear alongside other leading Asian actors, including Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. It was a movie that broke box office records on its release and became the second-highest-grossing film of 2021.

After recounting his story of being awarded the role, Simu shares the purpose of his book. It’s a memoir that tells the story of the immigrant dream shared by millions. “This book is for all of us.”

In the chapters, called acts, he takes readers through various points in his life, starting with his upbringing in Harbin, China. He was left in the care of his grandparents while his father went to Canada to complete a Ph.D. program at Queen’s University, and his mother followed shortly after.

 

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When Simu was five, he immigrated to Canada and was raised in Mississauga. An intelligent kid with a love for astronauts, he started his education at Sydenham Public School in Kingston. When talking about his parents, he was “determined to make them proud.” Liu went on to attend UTS (University of Toronto Schools).

When his grades started to drop, tensions rose at home. “Despite all of the fights that we had, they were still committed to the idea of giving their child what they themselves never had growing up.” 

At age sixteen, Simu got his driver’s license and first job serving coffee at Country Style, a Tim Horton’s knockoff. His ability to perform for audiences started around this age, too, “I had developed into a pretty good singer and hip-hop dancer, becoming a permanent fixture at the school’s various dances and coffeehouse nights.”

When Liu finished high school, he attended UWO (University of Western Ontario), where he studied a business degree. He takes readers through his time at UWO and his next job at Abercrombie. “Judge me if you want, but I had a point to prove: that Asian guys came in all shapes, sizes and types—including smokin’ hot.” 

 

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Moving through the book, we hear of Simu’s time as an accountant at Deloitte. He gives readers an advanced warning, “the following might bore the shit out of you.” In April 2012, he was laid off and began to pursue other options, deciding to become an actor and stuntman.

Liu’s determination to succeed in the entertainment industry is admirable. “Every day, I sprang out of bed motivated and hungrier than ever.” He doesn’t gloss over the obstacles he faced, though, which in the beginning meant jumping from one audition to the next and becoming a performer for kids’ birthday parties. 

Eventually, Simu started booking roles with sheer determination, appearing in television shows like Beauty and the Beast, Blood and Water, and being cast in a leading role in Kim’s Convenience

 

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Canada was one scene, but Hollywood was another beast altogether, and when Liu tried to tackle Tinseltown, he was rejected on more than one occasion. “I would experience frustration and helplessness like I had never felt before, as the so-called city of dreams served me one defeat after another.” 

We Were Dreamers is a memoir that takes readers from Simu’s birth to the present moment, from Harbin to Hollywood, with great humour and heartwarming prose. Within the book, Liu touches on his difficult relationship with his parents, and the challenges of becoming an actor. Despite the hardships he faced, each story is told in a brilliant and uplifting manner. 

It’s an excellent celebrity memoir that takes readers beyond the velvet rope and into the life of one of Canada’s most beloved stars. Simu’s story gives readers a chance to know a different side of him as he creates a compelling narrative of his life in words. 

We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story is on sale today.

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

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