Simu Liu opens up about Kim’s Convenience
Updated On 18th June 2021
Simu Liu, star of Kim’s Convenience opens up about his growing frustration with his character portrayal and writes about the show ending. He talks about the “lack of mentorship”, “being paid horsepoop rate” and a growing frustration towards the “lack of character development and representation”.
The final season of Kim’s Convenience is now streaming on Netflix. Simu Liu, the Canadian actor who plays Jung opened up on a Facebook post about the emotions behind the show ending. The Shang-Chi star says that “the show can’t be “saved”. It was not “cancelled” in a traditional manner, i.e. by a network after poor ratings. Our producers are the ones who chose not to continue.” In a detailed post, he talks about how difficult it is to have the show ending as well as a non-Asian character getting her own show. “I love and am proud of Nicole (Power, who played Shannon), and I want the show to succeed for her… but I remain resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show.” He also added how he wouldn’t want to reprise his role with very good reasons behind the same.
“I wanted to be a part of the sixth season. I’ve heard a lot of speculation surrounding myself – specifically, about how getting a Marvel role meant I was suddenly too “Hollywood” for Canadian TV. This could not be further from the truth. I love this show and everything it stood for.” Liu expressed how he had seen first-hand the effect the show had on families and brought people together. In a truly humble way, he even says that he wanted to make the schedules work badly. Kim’s Convenience truly had a huge impact and brought representation to Canadian-Asian families.
He wrote about his “growing frustration” with the way his character was being portrayed and also the way he was being treated. While season 1 Jung was a fresh take on a character who had a bad past but had fought his way to live a good life. Season 2 on, however, Jung was written more like a “dummy” constantly being shown negatively. Simu Liu added that he had always believed that “the lead actors were the stewards of character, and would grow to have more creative insight as the show went on.” However, this was not the case for Kim’s Convenience. He also wrote, “our producers were overwhelmingly white and we were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers.” Even though the cast had lived experiences that could be brought up in the writing, the producers did not do that. He went on to appreciate that the show was a hit but wrote about his disappointment at not having any character development throughout. “More importantly, the characters never seemed to grow. I can appreciate that the show is still a hit and is enjoyed by many people… but I remain fixated on the missed opportunities to show Asian characters with real depth and the ability to grow and evolve.”
Liu went on to point out that there was a lack of “mentorship” that he desperately needed and hence, reached out to pursue things in LA because he could not rely on Kim’s to take his career where he wanted it to be. He also said that the cast rarely got along even though they were all individually committed to the success of the show. He went on to talk about the reality of “show business”.
“We just all had different ideas on how to get there. Speaking for myself personally, I often felt like the odd man out or a problem child. This one is hard because I recognize that a lot of it reflected my own insecurities at the time, but it was buoyed by things that happened in real life; nomination snubs, decreasing screen time, and losing out on opportunities that were given to other cast members.” He also expressed his regret at saying things to the press that he shouldn’t have due to the severe lack of mentorship. He also talked about his cast members saying that “I was always so careful in presenting a united front to the press. I think we’ve all individually done a lot of work over the years and there will always be a mutual love and respect, as well as a recognition of the bond forged from this totally unique experience of being on a hit show that changed the world.”
Simu Liu also talks about the power imbalance in his post talking about the “horsepoop rate” that was paid even after the success of the show. He says that it opened his eyes to the reality of those in power and those without it. He wote in his post- “In the beginning, we were no-name actors who had ZERO leverage. So of course we were going to take anything we could. After one season, after the show debuted to sky-high ratings, we received a little bump-up that also extended the duration of our contracts by two years.” Comparing the show to Schitt’s Creek he says that “shows like Schitt’s Creek, who had ‘brand-name talent’ with American agents, but whose ratings were not as high as ours, we were making NOTHING.” He also says “we were too busy infighting to understand that we were deliberately being pitted against each other. Meanwhile, we had to become the de facto mouthpieces for the show (our showrunners were EPICALLY reclusive), working tirelessly to promote it while never truly feeling like we had a seat at its table.”
One of the most important things pointed out by Liu was the lack of representation in the writers room. He writes in his post, “Our writer’s room lacked both East Asian and female representation, and also lacked a pipeline to introduce diverse talents. Aside from Ins, there were no other Korean voices in the room. And personally I do not think he did enough to be a champion for those voices.” After Ins left the show “he left no protege, no padawan learner, no Korean talent that could have replaced him.” Liu goes on to say how he tried to be that person but unfortunately he was never heard. It wasn’t just him who had tried. He says – “Many of us in the cast were trained screenwriters with thoughts and ideas that only grew more seasoned with time. But those doors were never opened to us in any meaningful way.”
Concluding his long post, Liu talked about the day-to-day crew of the show and mentioned how utterly grateful he was to them. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of people or a better working environment. From our props to our grips and gaffers to sound and set dec(decoration), everyone contributed to a positive work environment.”
Liu says that he was deeply saddened by the lack of character development and in a sweet goodbye thanked the fans of the show.
“That we will never see Jung and Appa reuniting. That we will never watch the Kim’s deal with Umma’s MS, or Janet’s journey of her own self-discovery. But I am still touched by the volume and the voracity of our fans (Kimbits…still hands-down the best fandom name EVER), and I still believe in what the show once stood for; a shining example of what can happen when the gates come down and minorities are given a chance to shine.”
You can stream the last season of Kim’s Convenience on Netflix now.
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