"I definitely have friends who've felt under similar pressures to what Hannah's going through"
I Am Hannah follows I Am Nicola and I Am Kirsty as part of a trilogy of stand-alone female-led TV dramas focusing on women’s stories.
Chan stars as Hannah – a woman who faces pressure about starting a family.
The 36-year-old British Chinese actress said the TV drama reflects issues facing women that she knows personally.
“A lot of the stuff that comes up in this [drama] comes up in discussions that I’ve had with my girlfriends, my mum, my sister,” she said. “I definitely have friends who’ve felt under similar pressures to what Hannah’s going through. I wouldn’t say my experience is completely her experience at all, there are a lot of differences, but it’s definitely drawn from life.”
In one scene, Hannah is pressured by her mother to start a family.
“Mother and daughter relationships are unique and full of love but there can be a lot of angst there and often you want what’s best for the other but it comes out in pressure,” Chan says. “I think the pressures on Hannah are external pressure, but there are also a lot of internal expectations that Hannah puts on herself.”
“I think it’s interesting that women do get asked a lot about what their plans are – are they going to have kids, do they plan to get pregnant – perhaps more so than men get asked,” she added. “And to a certain extent I do think that that is someone else’s business and we shouldn’t be necessarily asking them that.”
Chan was also given a writing credit on the show for her help in developing the plot.
“It’s rare to be given that creative freedom,” she says. “As an actor you’re normally serving someone else’s vision, so it was a completely different experience to go ‘OK, what story do I want to tell?’
In related news, Chan recently revealed that she “pole-danced with Celine Dion on a bus” at year’s Met Gala afterparty.
I Am Hannah airs on Channel 4 on Tuesday 6 August at 22:00 BST.