British | Hong Kong Chinese
I am a little Eurasian baby, half English, half Chinese, born and raised in Hong Kong. My Mum is from Hong Kong and my Dad is from Cheltenham. They actually met in a club in Hong Kong, where my Mum was DJ’ing, when my Dad decided to move over to when he was younger. I love the story of how they met, because it was so random and unexpected, just like it is in the movies. They were on and off for 8 years before my Dad popped the question, and my Mum actually said no the first time but then eventually said yes when he asked again.
I went to local schools throughout my time in Hong Kong, from kindergarten to secondary school, so I was pretty much surrounded by Chinese kids. I don’t think I recognised I was mixed-race until the first day of kindergarten when the teacher read out my Chinese name for the first time at roll call. Most kids had three characters for their names, but I had five. So people started to ask why my name was different, where I was from, where my parents were from, why I had curly hair and light eyes. I always saw it as such a positive thing, as I had the best of both worlds, and plus I didn’t look like anyone else!
I feel like growing up in Hong Kong was possibly the best thing that’s happened to me, in terms of identifying with my dual heritage. It’s an amazing international city, with such a diverse mix of people, which in turn creates such a harmonious living place for everyone. There was never any hostility towards one another. Everyone embraced different cultures and appreciated them with festivals and celebrations. I had an awesome time growing up there and I do miss it a lot!
I honestly have to thank my parents for bringing me up the way they did, as I grew up fully understanding the importance of embracing both cultures. They encouraged me and my sister to go to local schools so that we could read, write and speak Chinese properly. Even though we hated it to begin with and refused to speak Chinese, we now understand why they did it, because we are fluent in 3 languages, Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Meeting up with both sides of the family was also just as important, as we learned to appreciate the different customs, e.g. celebrating Christmas with a massive feast over at my aunt’s house in the UK, or huge banquets for Chinese New Year with my mum’s side of the family in Hong Kong.
I only really found my mixed ethnicity challenging when I graduated from drama school at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. I always saw my mixed heritage as a positive thing but having been in the industry for a short time, I can already see that there is a severe lack of representation when it comes to Asians. Although times are changing, with Crazy Rich Asians leading the way, and The Farewell doing crazy well at the Sundance Film Festival, we do still have a long way to go. It’s particularly frustrating when you see mixed-raced (Eurasians) actors being called out for not being ‘Asian enough’ to be in an Asian role, but then not ‘White enough’ for playing a White role, it’s a constant battle and it is frustrating when I know it applies to me and other fellow actors. However, as I said, times are changing, and we are beginning to speak up and be heard, so I’m sure that we will win this and come out on top in the future, we just need to keep fighting for it!
Most of my friends when I was growing up were Chinese, because I went to local schools in Hong Kong. Now, having come over to the UK for boarding school and drama school, I find that the diversity of my friendships has expanded. I don’t pick people to be friends according to their ethnicities, as long as they have a good vibe about them and are chill, that’s good with me! As for the traits I look for in a partner, they are typically a sense of humour, confidence and to be honest, just genuine nice guy and my boyfriend fits all those.
Growing up I always wanted to have straight hair because it was so frizzy. So every time I went to go have my hair cut, I’d always ask them to straighten it so I could at least enjoy it for a couple of days before I became a walking pom pom again. Now I just embrace my head of curls and let it do whatever it wants.
There has definitely been more positive than negative being mixed-race. I’ve always had a lot of opportunities given to me because I was mixed when I was in Hong Kong, like being asked to do commercials, join modelling agencies or represent my school, I’ll always be grateful for that. Being mixed-raced has allowed me to float between groups and be 100% myself, which is great when it comes to meeting new people. I’m super proud of being mixed and I strived for our voices to be heard, I want to be the person to help lead change.
If I were to be born again as a human being, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe not fight with my mum as much about learning Chinese. I had the best time growing up and glad that it has led me to where I am now. But if I were to come back as an animal? I’d definitely be a sting ray, 100%. They’re my spirit animal.