"Would any of this happen to me if I’d decided to start a career in acting at home? I really don’t think so."
Daniel Wu has said he had to begin his career in China before Hollywood would cast him as a lead.
In a guest post on The Wrap, Asian American actor Daniel Wu explained that he had to act in China before Hollywood would consider him.
Wu, who recently starred in Tomb Raider, is also currently producing and starring in AMC’s Into The Badlands and is making quite an impact on American television.
However, according to Wu, his success was only a product of his deliberate decision to work in China instead of Hollywood.
Wu explains that he was spotted by director Yonfan whilst traveling in Hong Kong after graduating from university in 1997. Although he did not have acting experience nor a Cantonese fluency, he was still cast as the lead in Yonfan’s film Bishonen.
“It was a decision that changed my life and put me on a path that I never dared dream for myself,” Wu said. “Two weeks after the film wrapped, I was on the set of my second film. Within two years I had done six films.”
“By 2000, I was playing lead roles in everything from romantic comedies to big-budget action films. Now, 70 films later, my work has been embraced all over Chinese-speaking Asia.”
Wu questions whether the same would have happened if he chose to stay in America.“Would any of this happen to me if I’d decided to start a career in acting at home? I really don’t think so.”
“Growing up a Chinese-American kid in 1970s and 1980s California, I saw no possibility for me to become an actor, especially one playing lead roles,” he recalls. “There were many characters I loved on television — white, black and Latino — but I rarely saw people like myself represented.”
“When I did see an Asian man appear on the screen, he was either a gross stereotype or something even worse.”
Wu had worked in China for 20 years before returning to the US. “It is kind of ironic that I had to leave the country for 20 years and become known to an audience of 1 billion Chinese before I would have the opportunity to come back to the U.S. and live my American Dream.”