English | Chinese
My dad is Chinese, was born in Malaysia, he moved to England when he was 18. My mum was born in Chester. I grew up in Croydon with both my mum & my dad.
My parents met during their training as Psychiatric Nurses when they were 18 and we grew up in Colesden in an old Victorian Cottage, which was paid for by the hospital. Chipstead Valley road was a road of immigrants who came over in the 70s to train as Psychiatric nurses, so we had Scottish, Irish, Filipino, Sri Lankan and Mauritian families. I grew up in a very Chinese environment; my dad was a great cook and would mainly cook Chinese food. My mum loved it and preferred it to English food. We watched Chinese films and learned karate, really were in touch with our Chinese culture.
My identity changes all of the time I normally identify myself as British Chinese or Eurasian. Because of the culture that we live in I think I address more of the Chinese side over my English side.
In Secondary school I became more interested in my racial make-up. My siblings and I were really proud of being Malaysian; we had this catch phrase “well in Malaysia” because we would always contrast things in the UK to what would happen in Malaysia. This is when I became interested in my roots. In The BRIT School I would begin researching my heritage and would read lots of books about the Cultural Revolution. When I graduated from the The BRIT School I then went on to SOAS and completed a degree on modern classical Chinese, which was a 4-year degree and hard work but really helped me to discover my roots. This was something that I noticed a lot of Eurasian students in my class were also doing. I was able to understand how the Chinese moved to Malaysia and then to the UK.
The Chinese Diasporic communities are something that really fascinates me it informs my writing. I wrote a play called ‘Jamaican boy’ which is about a Chinese Jamaican boy who falls in love with black Jamaican girl in 1960s. It then flips to modern day Croydon where a Eurasian boy who doesn’t know his Chinese father but only has a connection with his Irish mother. He then meets a Jamaican lady who knows more about Chinese culture than he does.