Last week, actress Lucy Liu made bloglines around the country for her cover article in Net-A-Porter magazine, where she discussed her career, personal life, and thoughts on how race and gender operate in Hollywood. Her thoughts were frank, candid and refreshing and reflect the perspective of an actress who has trailblazed for nearly two decades, become perhaps the most recognizable and powerful Asian American actress since Anna May Wong, and who has also continually chafed up against expected type-cast roles. She has starred in commercial films like “Kill Bill” and “Charlie’s Angels” where she added depth and awareness (and fun) to roles which easily could have fallen into stereotype territory, as well as independent features like “Lucky Number Slevin” which have allowed her more range as an actress. In all roles however, she is very deliberately modulated between what Hollywood might expect of her as an Asian American actress, and her own politics and aspirations.
In the Net-A-Porter article, Liu says: “I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.”
Liu’s latest project, CBS’s “Elementary”, an update of the Sherlock Holmes story stars her as Joan Watson, partner of Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). Receiving strong critical praise, the show was recently renewed for a second season.