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Wu Assassins' Celia Au discusses representation and Marvel's Shang-Chi

Jess Lee
Photo credit: PHOTOGRAPHY: Nick Onken | HAIR: Corey Tuttle | MAKE-UP: Romana Makeup New York | STYLING: Carolyn Son

From Digital Spy

Note: This article contains spoilers for Wu Assassins.

In the seventh episode of Wu Assassins, Kai Jin and his father Uncle Six go on a road trip.

Having breakfast in an Oregon diner, the duo are bothered and otherised by a racist waitress. Uncle Six (Byron Mann) responds by giving her a brief Chinese American history lesson – touching on the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Geary Act, which prevented Chinese people from becoming citizens until World War II.

Photo credit: Daniel Power/Netflix

It was a standout scene in the series, and – as Celia Au, who plays Kai's mentor Ying Ying, explained in an interview with Digital Spy – the cast were excited when they read it in the script.

"I remember when we got the script, everyone jumped out of their chair and was like, 'This is amazing, the whole monologue that Uncle Six does in the diner'," Au said. "And I remember after reading that part, everyone called our showrunner and said, 'This is just gold, this is so good. I can't believe you guys wrote something like this'.

"It's something that's not talked about. Tzi Ma [who plays Mr Young] would say, 'Hey, this show is more than a martial arts modern fantasy show'."

Photo credit: Netflix

Related: Wu Assassins star Celia Au reacts to cliffhanger ending and reveals season 2 hopes

With a majority Asian cast, Wu Assassins is the latest in a wave of Asian American TV shows and movies that Hollywood has been enjoying lately, and Au discussed the significance of this trend.

"I think it's amazing," she said. "At the end of the day, it's not just Asian American. I think anyone who is a person of colour that grew up in America – we're Americans. Why are we called foreigners?

"I think the more and more you see us on screen, the more you normalise it... And I think a good way to start is in media, because everyone watches TV. Everyone watches films."

Photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images

One of the more high-profile upcoming movies is Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which will star Simu Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung.

"As a kid, I watched a lot of Power Rangers, and the only one that I could really see is Trinity, the Yellow Ranger," Au recalled. "I never knew at the time why I liked her so much, but I think it was easy to relate to her for me, to see someone who looked like me on screen.

"Seeing Shang-Chi come alive and go into production soon, I'm like, 'Oh my god, this is the next step'.

"We're going into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as superheroes and supervillains. That's amazing to me. That's another step towards normalising it."

Photo credit: PHOTOGRAPHY: Nick Onken | HAIR: Corey Tuttle | MAKE-UP: Romana Makeup New York | STYLING: Carolyn Son

And would Au be interested in being involved in the movie, if she was approached?

"100%!" she said. "If they're like, 'Hey, we want you', I'd be, 'I'm down!' I don't even have to think about it."

All ten episodes of Wu Assassins season 1 are available to watch on Netflix right now.

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