Actor Simu Liu calls out Kim’s Convenience producers in candid Facebook post
Actor Simu Liu, who was an integral part of the award-winning CBC comedy Kim’s convenience, took to Facebook on Wednesday with a candid post detailing the workplace culture during his time on the show.
With the launch of the final season on Netflix Canada, the Canadian actor criticized his “extremely white” producers for slashing contributions from Asian actors, revealed actors were being paid an “absolute poo rate” and showrunners were “epically reclusive”.
“We were a group of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer writers,” he said in his post.
In March, the acclaimed sitcom was abruptly canceled after five seasons when it had already been renewed for a sixth. The show announced that co-creators Ins Choi and Kevin White are moving on to other projects.
In a previous interview with CBC News, actor and lead Paul Sun-Hyung Lee said Choi told actors in late January that he would be leaving the show.
Lee said it was not an option for the show to go on without Choi.
WATCH | Paul Sun-Hyung Lee was taken aback by the end of Kim’s Convenience:
“KimIt was so unique because you had an all-Asian cast. And if you don’t have someone Asian that’s on the production team, the optics look terrible, ”he said.
Liu, who was previously outspoken on social media about the end of the show, said the show’s writers’ room lacked representation and East Asian women, as well as a “pipeline” to showcase more diverse talent.
“Other than Ins, there were no other Korean voices in the room,” he wrote.
I can’t believe this is the last time I say this … but the new season of Kim’s Convenience is out now on Netflix.
Take a look at it and let’s talk about it. God knows I have opinions … pic.twitter.com/g58kLXB0fp
After Choi left, Liu expressed interest in following a director or attending a session in the writers room to fill in the gaps, he said.
“Many of us in the cast were screenwriters trained with thoughts and ideas that only got finer over time. But those doors were never opened in any meaningful way to us.”
Second Jen co-creator Amanda Joy previously told CBC News the cancellation of Kim’s convenience raised an important question about Asian representation in Canadian media: why is this the only show?
Over the years of production on the show, there have been attempts to connect with the community at large. In 2019, Choi partnered with the Regent Park Film Festival in Toronto to deliver a six-hour program Television writing workshop for eight writers of color. The showrunners also ran a weeklong writers’ room at the Theater Alberta in 2018 to mentor emerging and diverse writers in developing real-life storylines for the show.
Actors move on to new projects
And while Kim’s Convenience possesses Closed, there are still plans for a spin-off with actor Nicole Power, who plays Shannon on the show.
“It has been difficult for me. I love and am proud of Nicole, and I want the show to be successful for her,” Liu wrote in her post, “but I remain angered by all the circumstances that led to the single non-asian character getting his own show.
“And not that they would ever ask for it, but I will categorically refuse to reprise my role in any capacity.”
Calgary-raised actor Andrew Phung, who played Kimchee on the series, will also star on his own show, Run the Burbs, created by Phung and filmmaker Scott Townend.
Liu called Kim’s convenience producers for ending the show, and commented on how CBC and Netflix “just license it.”
On Wednesday, CBC announced that Liu is the co-creator of a new CBC Gem series titled Hello again), alongside Canadian writer-producer Nathalie Younglai. The romantic young adult drama is set to launch in the winter of 2022.
“Kim’s convenience had a good run at CBC and we’re excited about Simu’s new project, ”said CBC public affairs chief Chuck Thompson, who declined to comment further.
“It is not for us to speak on behalf of the producers or Simu Liu.”
Kim’s convenience the producers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I wanted to be part of the sixth season”
Liu has sought to quash the idea that since landing the Marvel superhero film Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, slated for release this fall, it would become “too Hollywood” and ignore Canadian opportunities.
“I wanted to be a part of season six … I love this show and everything it stands for. I saw with my own eyes how deeply it touched families and brought people together,” a- he writes.
Liu portrayed Jung Kim, the estranged son of the Kim family and the local mainstay of Handy Car Rental, and described “growing increasingly frustrated” with the way his character was portrayed.
Regarding the dynamics of the show, Liu said, “We didn’t always get along with each other” and he “often felt like a strange man or a problem child.”
He acknowledged that his personal insecurities about feeling overlooked for award nominations and new opportunities contributed to the acrimonious atmosphere.
Liu said he was “deeply saddened” by the number of stories that will go unrealized, including a reconciliation between Lee and Liu’s father and son characters, Appa and Jung.
His grievances now don’t change his feelings about how it all started, he said.
“I still believe in what the show once stood for; a shining example of what can happen when doors collapse and minorities have a chance to shine.”