"It's not my job to make you feel like a man. I can't make you something you're not."
When Astrid Leong delivered that iconic line in Crazy Rich Asians, you bet your a** I was whooping internally and cheering on my queen right here.
Beautiful, poised, and a graceful picture of quiet strength, Astrid - fabulously played by the gorgeous Gemma Chan - is no doubt one of the most compelling yet down-to-earth characters in movie. With a sequel focusing on her and Harry Shum Jr.'s Charlie Wu already in the works, I can't wait to see more of her on the big screen.
1. Gemma certainly puts the A in Asian. Apart from spending her childhood getting classically trained in the arts, she also swam competitively to national level in her teens.
2. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in law and was even offered a job at a prestigious law firm, but turned it down to pursue an acting career
Gemma studied law at Worcester College at her parents' urging, but has always known that it's not something she wants to do for life. Upon graduation, she was offered a training contract at Slaughter and May, one of the most profitable law firms in the UK, which she turned down.
Instead, she spent a year working as a model to fund her studies at the Drama Centre in London, a drama school that has produced actors such as Paul Bettany, Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Pierce Brosnan.
3. She may have turned her back on a law career, but Gemma champions and often speaks out about issues that matter to her
In January last year, Gemma joined fellow actors Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Black Mirror) and Katie Leung (Harry Potter films) in a 200-strong protest after a London theatre was accused of 'yellowface' casting, having cast exclusively white actors for a show that was billed as being set in ancient China and has Chinese character names.
In March 2017, Gemma travelled to Lebanon to spend some time with refugee children who have escaped the ongoing civil conflict in Syria and are now living in informal settlements along the border as part of the #SaveTheChildrenUK initiative. You can read her blog post detailing her experience here.
The British actress was also involved in The Body Shop's 'Forever Against Animal Testing' campaign in June last year alongside actors Ariel Winter and Adrian Grenier as well as model Bar Rafaeli.
4. Gemma also stood alongside her fellow actresses in lending their voices to the #TimesUp movement
Apart from wearing black in protest of widespread sexual misconduct in the film industry at the 2017 BAFTA Film Awards, the actress is also one of 190 signatories of an open letter of intent to demand for change.
"We are here today as part of a much bigger movement supporting safety and equality in the workplace. We all stand alongside the thousands of women who have challenged and raised their voices against harassment and violence across the world," she said in a statement.
5. She purposefully chose to wear clothes by designers with Asian heritages at the Crazy Rich Asians press tour to put a spotlight on Asian creativity
In the LA premiere, she wore an Oscar de la Renta dress co-designed by Korean-born designer Laura Kim.
Gemma wore a blue dress by Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung in Philadelphia.
In Boston, Gemma donned a floral dress by French luxury house Kenzo, which was founded by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada in 1970.
6. She loves dogs
7. She's a little bit of a geek at heart, like dressing up as Eleven from Stranger Things for Halloween (so I guess she can have my heart now)
8. If you're an avid Arsenal fan, you have one major thing in common with the actress. :p
9. She once witnessed a fatal stabbing and stayed with the victim until the ambulance arrived
In 2013, the actress was walking to a tube station when a 28-year-old man stabbed a 65-year-old man in the neck. She reportedly waited ten minutes for emergency services to arrive at the scene while a local doctor tried to resuscitate the victim.
She later appeared in court to act as a witness to the fatal stabbing.
10. You've probably seen (or heard) her in the hit BBC show Sherlock as well as blockbusters like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Transformers: The Last Knight
Gemma is also part of the main cast in sci-fi show Humans, playing anthropomorphic robot ("synth") Anita. She has also appeared in several British TV shows like Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Doctor Who, Fresh Meat, The IT Crowd, as well as the action film Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit alongside Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, and Kevin Costner.
11. We're definitely going to see a lot more of Gemma on the big screen. Not only will be she appearing alongside Margot Robbie as a character traditionally played by ang mohs in Mary Queen of Scots...
Catch Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel while it's still playing in cinemas nationwide!
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