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53 Mixed-Race API Celebrities Who Have Actually Talked About Their Multiracial Identity

"A lot of people don’t know that I’m mixed race, or if they do, they’ve got no idea of my ethnicity."

Note: This post contains mention of suicide.  

1. Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo at the 2021 American Music Awards
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Olivia Rodrigo is of Filipino, German, and Irish descent. In a 2018 interview with CAAM, she opened up about her Filipino descent: "My great-grandfather immigrated here from the Philippines when he was just a teenager. He’s my grandma’s dad, and my grandpa is also Filipino as well."

She continued, "My dad grew up in a house where they were always making Filipino food, his grandpa always spoke Tagalog. All of those traditions have trickled down to our generation. Every Thanksgiving we have lumpia, and things like that."

2. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

The Rock smiles
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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is of Black and Samoan descent. His father is former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, the first Black Georgia heavyweight champion, and his maternal grandfather, Peter Maivia, was a Samoan American professional wrestler.

In 2019, Johnson responded to a Twitter debate about his identity, tweeting, "Glad I came across this and I’ll give you guys some context [and] truth. I identify as exactly what I am — both. Equally proud. Black/Samoan."

In a 2021 interview with Cigar Aficionado, Johnson opened up about the discrimination he faced growing up Black and Samoan, revealing, "The majority of my growing up was all throughout the South. When I was a kid, up until I was 10, 11 years old, we were in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, so it was predominantly throughout the South, where racial prejudice was pretty prevalent, pretty strong. ... I knew it, and I would want to fight everybody."

Because he moved a lot, Johnson explained that he "was always the new kid in school who looked much different than everybody else." 

3. Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid at the 2022 Met Gala
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Gigi Hadid, born Jelena Noura Hadid, is of Dutch and Palestinian descent. In a 2021 interview with i-D, Hadid opened up about raising her mixed-race daughter as well as being a white-passing, mixed-race individual herself: "We think about it and talk about it a lot as partners and it’s something that’s really important to us, but it’s also something that we first experienced ourselves. Because both of our parents are their own heritage. We are that first generation of those mixed races, and then that comes with that first generational experience of being like, ‘Oh damn, I’m the bridge!’ That’s not something that my parents experienced or that they can really help me through. It’s something I’ve always thought about my whole life."

About herself, she continued, "In certain situations, I feel – or I’m made to feel – that I’m too white to stand up for part of my Arab heritage. You go through life trying to figure out where you fit in racially. Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right? But then, also, is that taking advantage of the privilege of having the whiteness within me, right? Am I allowed to speak for this side of me, or is that speaking on something that I don’t experience enough to know? Do you know what I’m saying?"

"I think that Khai will grow up feeling out the way that she can or wants to be a bridge for her different ethnicities," Hadid concluded, "but I think that it will be nice to be able to have those conversations, and see where she comes from [with] it, without us putting that onto her. What comes from her is what I’m most excited about, and being able to add to that or answer her questions, you know?"

4. Shay Mitchell

Shay Mitchell at an event
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Shay Mitchell is of Filipino, Irish, and Scottish descent. In a 2021 interview with Women's Health, Mitchell discussed the perception of her parents' relationship and her own experiences with racism growing up: 

"It’s something my mom has dealt with her whole life. When she and my dad were dating in the 1980s in Toronto, their relationship was looked down upon. On the bus with my dad, she would get the worst looks. They would tell me about going into a restaurant and people not serving them. I also saw it in real life. My mom would get derogatory remarks like, ‘Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny?’ And she was like, ‘No, but what is your issue if I was?’ In school, I was bullied — I’d get questions like, ‘Are you going to go clean the bathrooms?’"

Mitchell also talked about navigating race as a mother, explaining, "Matte [Mitchell's partner and Atlas' father] is half white — his dad is from Trinidad. And Atlas is a mix of all of us. But she’s very fair-skinned and has light eyes and hair, so she doesn’t look like either of us. We’re learning how to have those appropriate conversations. It starts with her dolls, with the toys she plays with, and the books we read to her, that have all different colors and ethnicities."

5. Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons smiles with her hands in her pockets
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Kimora Lee Simmons is of Black, Korean, and Japanese descent. In an article for Working Mother, she wrote, "I was a loner growing up. I was a mixed-race girl with a Korean Japanese mother and an African American father, and none of the other kids at my school were like me. I was nearly 6 feet tall by the time I was 11 years old. And I was an only child being raised by a single mother."

She then revealed, "They called me 'chinky giraffe.' I cried all the time. But my mother wanted me to turn my tears into something else, something positive." So her mother signed her up for modeling, where Karl Lagerfeld eventually dubbed her "the face of the 21st century."

6. Sir Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley looking serious at an event
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Sir Ben Kingsley, born Krishna "Krish" Pandit Bhanji,  is of Indian and English descent. When asked in a 2010 interview with the Daily Mail about his childhood in Salford in the '50s, Kingsley said, "My father as GP, being a sort of emblem in that Salford pond, made us more celebrated as curiosities than ostracized as people who didn't belong. Then, I think one in four of the students at my school was Jewish. Every single one of my friends was Jewish. My mother was half-Jewish, so I felt a part of exotic, cosmopolitan Manchester. I was fortunate.'"

When he began auditioning, Kingsley used his original name: "I was sitting there waiting to go on with my audition piece and someone said, 'Christina Blange?' I said, 'I think that's me.' And I couldn't quite get my cojones back to do a decent audition." His father then suggested he call himself something English-sounding, so they came up with Kingsley from his grandfather's spice trader nickname, King Clove. At his next audition, he went under the name of Ben Kingsley. "They said, 'When can you start?'"

In a 2016 interview with Radio Times, Kingsley remarked, "But the irony is, of course, I changed my clunky invented Asian name to a more pronounceable, and acceptable, universal name in order to play Mahatma Gandhi. There’s your irony."

7. Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka holding up a tennis racket
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Naomi Osaka is of Haitian and Japanese descent. In a 2020 interview with WSJ Magazine, Osaka said, "I’m just trying to put a platform out for all the Japanese people that look like me and live in Japan and when they go to a restaurant, they get handed an English menu, even though it’s just a little microaggression."

She also opened up about a time when she was younger and playing against a Japanese opponent: "She was talking with another Japanese girl, and they didn’t know that I was listening [or that] I spoke Japanese. Her friend asked her who she was playing, so she said Osaka. And her friend says, ‘Oh, that Black girl. Is she supposed to be Japanese?’ And then the girl that I was playing was like, ‘I don’t think so.' I remember that specifically because, yeah, I sometimes feel like a lot of people think that way about me."

8. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves smiling and clapping
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Keanu Reeves is of Chinese, English, Irish, Native Hawaiian, and Portuguese descent. In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Reeves recalled how his manager initially wanted to change his name: "Great to see you, but we want to change your name," Reeves recounted. After Reeves suggested the names Chuck Spadina or Templeton Paige Taylor, his manager decided to stick with Keanu Reeves.

In a 2021 interview with NBC Asian American, Reeves said, "My relationship to my Asian identity, it’s always been good and healthy. And I love it. We’ve been growing up together." 

9. Jade Thirlwall

Jade Thirlwall looking serious
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Jade Thirlwall is of Yemeni, Egyptian, and English descent. In a 2020 interview with the No Country for Young Women podcast, Thirlwall opened up about her family and experience growing up mixed race: "A lot of people don’t know that I’m mixed race, or if they do, they’ve got no idea of my ethnicity. ... My granddad was a Muslim from Yemen. He settled in South Shields and married my granny, who was Egyptian – but I never met her because she died when my mam was 4.”

"Growing up mixed race in a working-class town has its issues," she continued. "It was interesting for me, growing up in an Arab community. My granddad really wanted me to be Muslim, bless him! My mam made me go to church on Sunday, but I went to Muslim school on Saturdays – it was next to the local mosque where my grandfather went. I enjoyed it, but I’m not religious. I wish I’d stuck at it because I’m trying to re-learn Arabic.”

Thirlwall further reflected, "My grandfather was proud of being Arab and always encouraged me to stand up for who I was. Once that figure left, that disappeared a bit. Now I’m grown-up and have more of an education about what racism and prejudice are, I see how crazy some of the things that happened to me growing up actually are. If you weren’t evidently Black, you were called the P-word or called ‘half-caste.’ I would get so confused because I’m not from Pakistan. One time I got pinned down in the toilets, and they put a bindi spot on my forehead – my mam was fuming!"

"I’d identify myself as mixed-race. If I delved deeper, I’d say of Arab heritage, I guess. I’ve had an inner battle of not knowing where I fit in or what larger community I fit into," she concluded. "When I moved to London it was a whole different ballgame, being around people who recognized me as being mixed. I definitely felt more accepted. I feel sad that through my teenage years I was never proud of who I was, and it took me coming into adulthood and living in a different environment to learn about who I am, be more proud of it, and speak more about it!"

10. Daniel Henney

A closeup of Daniel Henney smiling
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Daniel Henney is of Korean and English descent. In a 2007 interview with the LA Times, Henney talked about his family and experience growing up in Michigan. His mother was born in Busan, Korea, but adopted into an American family as an infant, while his father is American with English roots. 

Despite experiencing racism, Henney said that he didn't think about being mixed race as a child in small-town Michigan, "a very naive place of 1,100 people where all the kids there ever thought about was hunting and fishing. I always just thought of myself as a white guy." However, his friends would tease him by bowing to him or taunt him about ramen noodles, which his mother stocked in the kitchen. Sometimes, these would escalate to physical fights, with Henney noting, "I grew up in a rural area. You get your racism there."

In a 2018 interview with Asia Pacific Arts, Henney discussed playing a biracial Asian American character Matthew Simmons in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders: "Simmons being biracial has really added an amazing element to this character for me. It’s not usual, it’s not normal for an Asian American actor to be able to play a role like Simmons where he’s the quintessential American. He’s the guy the viewers need to depend on, he’s a family man, he embodies what you want in a special agent, a tactical guy. And I don’t think that that responsibility has been given to an Asian American actor in a long time. So I’m very proud to play Simmons. ... It’s been a very fulfilling experience, and I hope it continues."

11. Hayley Kiyoko

A closeup of Hayley Kiyoko
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Hayley Kiyoko is of Japanese, Welsh, and Scottish descent. In a 2017 interview with SXSW, she talked about how being biracial influenced her: "Naturally, being biracial shapes you as a person because you experience different things. As an actress, for example, I'm constantly going out for Asian American roles, and 'I'm not Asian enough.' They will flat out say that. Then, I’ll go out for open ethnicity roles, and they will go, ‘You’re not white enough.’ It’s just part of who I am and what I look like."

In a 2021 interview with People, Kiyoko further opened up, sharing, "Growing up biracial — my mom's Japanese Canadian and my dad's Caucasian — it took a long time for me to really connect and embrace my Asian heritage. I was never white enough, I was never Asian enough, but I also was never straight enough. For most of my adolescence, my sexuality kind of took over my struggle with fitting into society, and then as I was able to learn and accept myself, later in life, I started to unpack my culture and my roots."

"I just didn't really have the space to do so when I was younger," she shared, "because I was just extremely gay and I didn't have an outlet or felt like I had a community that I belonged to, and so that really took over most of my youth."

12. Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi at an event
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Taika Waititi is of Māori (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) and Russian Jewish descent. In a 2018 interview with Daze, Waititi talked about growing up half-Polynesian in New Zealand: "Growing up it was very normal to go into a store and they would say, ‘What do you want?’ And you’d be like, (muttering) ‘I’m just looking at chips, man.’ I remember getting a job at a dairy and they would never give me a job at the till, I was always at the back washing vegetables."

He went on, "And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue — like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’ In my head I was like, ‘Motherfucker, you grew up with my mum!’ And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers."

13. Charles Melton

A closeup of Charles Melton
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Charles Melton is of Korean and English descent. In a 2019 interview with Mixed Asian Media, Melton said, "To be on both sides, being Caucasian and Asian, how inclusive or exclusive do you want to be when it comes to race, with being Asian? It’s weird when some people try to measure your Asian-ness, when it’s like, 'I’m Asian.' It’s so extreme. 'Oh, you’re half, but you’re not Asian.' I am Asian. I’m probably more 'Asian' than you. I grew up in Korea. I grew up speaking Korean and being spanked by my mom with the rice spoon.

Then you have people in America that are second or third generation, but they’re full Asian. Do they see themselves as more 'Asian' than you when you’re just half or a quarter? When you grew up in Asia? How do you measure that? If you’re Asian, you’re Asian. If it runs through your blood, it runs through your blood. How exclusive do you want to be?

When I was in Korea, people knew I was Korean, but they knew I wasn’t full. When I’m somewhere like Kansas or Texas, they’re like, 'Oh, you’re Asian.' Depending on where you are in the world or the US affects how people are going to measure your 'Asian-ness.'"

14. Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid attends the "Tre Piani (Three Floors)" screening during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival
Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

Bella Hadid, born Isabella Khair Hadid, is of Dutch and Palestinian descent. In the past, Hadid has made headlines for supporting Palestinian independence and sparking conversations around Eurocentric beauty standards when she revealed she regretted getting a nose job at age 14 in a 2022 Vogue interview, saying, "I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors. I think I would have grown into it.”

Hadid's father, Mohammed Hadid, immigrated to the US after he and his family had fled to Syria during the war in 1948. Hadid described her experience visiting Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as the best day of her life in a 2018 Harper's Bazaar interview

"I was talking to all of these Arab women and men, and finally understanding the culture a lot more than I ever really have. He would teach us about it and we would go and do Eid with my family and we would do Ramadan – I did that since I was a kid. Once I got older I was working and going to school so I couldn’t fast for as long. My dad, he’s so passionate about it, and that’s what kept me very passionate and excited about my roots.”  

15. Zayn Malik

Zayn Malik at an event
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Zayn Malik is of Pakistani and Irish descent. In a 2017 interview with the Evening Standard, Malik shared, "I take a great sense of pride — and responsibility — in knowing that I am the first of my kind, from my background. I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture. But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background."

He also shared what it was like touring with One Direction in their early days: "The first time I came to America, I had three security checks before I got on the plane. First, they said that I'd been randomly selected, and then they said it was something to do with my name — it was flagging something on their system. It was like a movie. They kept me there for three hours, questioning me about all kinds of crazy stuff. I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused. The same thing happened the next time too."

In a 2018 interview with Vogue, Malik reflected on his childhood in Britain. "I did see the segregation," he said, before speaking about people's perspective on his parents, "That was confusing for people, they didn’t really understand. ‘Who’s the brown person? Is it your mum or is it your dad?’ That was nobody’s fault, other than learning these things." He also shared his optimism toward the future as people learn more about race and society progresses: "It’s natural. There are more mixed-race people around now." 

And though he's often referred to as 'Britain's most famous Muslim,' Malik pointed out, "I’ve never spoken publicly about what my religious beliefs are. I’m not professed to be a Muslim." He also revealed that he wouldn't call himself Muslim: "No, I wouldn’t. I believe whatever people’s religious beliefs are is between them and whoever or whatever they’re practicing. For me, I have a spiritual belief of there is a god. Do I believe there’s a hell? No."

On his relationship with religion, he elaborated, "With my mum and dad, they were always there to educate us – I did go to mosque, I did study Islam – but they gave us the option so you could choose for yourself. There’s definitely beautiful parts to every religion."

16. Danny Pudi

Danny Pudi attends the "Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet" premiere
Gregg Deguire / Getty Images

Danny Pudi is of Indian and Polish descent. In an 2017 interview with the Center for Asian American Media, Pudi said, "Inside my home, I’m very Polish. As soon as I left the door, in school and in public, I was pretty much perceived as Indian." When asked about his upbringing as a "brown kid in a Polish family in Chicago," Pudi answered:

"That’s pretty much it. I laugh when I hear that description, so I can only imagine what people thought of me back in the ’80s in Chicago. I always felt a little strange. I always felt a little odd. We lived in an amazing neighborhood though, and our family was super tight. So I always felt safe, which was wonderful. I knew our situation was different, but we were always encouraged to embrace that.

And my mom especially decided it wasn’t enough to stick out. So she made me take Polish dance and take violin lessons and all this other stuff — so that way I would stick out even more than I already did. Which can be challenging growing up, you know…you’re just trying to blend in. It’s pretty difficult when you grow up speaking Polish, but you and half of your family is from Andhra Pradesh. But it was wonderful. It was very colorful."

17. Conrad Ricamora

A closeup of Conrad Ricamora
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Conrad Ricamora is of Filipino, German, and Irish descent. His mother is from Colonial New Hampshire, while his father immigrated to the US from the Philippines at age 10. Of his parents, Ricamora noted in a 2018 interview with the LA Times, "It’s so funny to think they were both immigrants, but they would have been treated very differently today because of the color of their skin and the shape of their eyes. They would not be granted the same welcome."

Growing up as a gay Asian child on Air Force bases in the '80s and '90s, Ricamora felt out of place surrounded by "macho" culture. He was bullied for his sexuality in junior high and would sit in the front of the school bus to avoid being bullied for his race. In a 2019 interview with American Theatre, Ricamora recalled, "My best friend made fun of my race and I went along with it because I didn’t have anyone else to hang out with." 

He also talked about his motivation for acting as a gay Asian man: "What attracted me to acting is getting up on stage and speaking my truth. There’s basic human truths that live in all of us no matter our race or sexual orientation. And that’s still what I want to do ... That’s the reason why I was like, when I started acting, this is my career, this is what I want to do with my life. It feels like a noble thing to do."

18. Hannah Simone

Hannah Simone smiles at an event
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Hannah Simone is of Indian, Italian, Greek Cypriot, and German descent. Talking about her role on New Girl in an interview with CAA Media, Simone explained, "When they were casting this role, they weren’t looking for a South Asian character. I remember when I got cast, I went to [show creator] Liz Meriwether and I said: 'That’s really cool that you cast me. I didn’t grow up watching American sitcoms seeing my face in those shows.' I was talking not just as a South Asian person, but as someone with this skin tone."

Simone continued, "I remember Liz just looking at me and saying: 'Hannah, I just cast the funniest person,' and that really landed on me. And she just kept writing that way to keep Cece a funny, honest character and friend and woman on that show."

19. Lewis Tan

Lewis Tan at an event
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Lewis Tan is of Chinese and English descent. His father, Philip Tan, is a Chinese Singaporean martial artist, actor, and stunt coordinator (who worked on Tim Burton's Batman), and his mother, Joanne Cassidy, is a retired British model. 

In a 2018 interview with Mixed Asian Media, Tan expressed, "Being mixed in an industry that has been known for casting [people of color] as stereotypes has been frustrating and tiring, but has also made me a better actor and performer because I have had to convince casting directors and producers I am the ONLY choice for the role. As we go into 2018, I think the industry is starting to see the world in a broader perspective. It's about time and I am very grateful for all the hard times that has built me up."

He added, "I love my mixed heritage because it has given me depth and perspective on the world. It has also been challenging in the film industry, but at the same time [it] created a deep discovery of who I am as a man and I am proud of my heritage."

20. Ariana Miyamoto

Ariana Miyamoto wears a Japan sash
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Ariana Miyamoto is of Black and Japanese descent. She entered Miss Universe Japan as a way to fight against racial prejudice after a mixed-race friend committed suicide. However, she faced abuse and backlash over her skin color. In a 2015 interview with AFP, she said, "I was prepared for the criticism. I'd be lying to say it didn't hurt at all. I'm Japanese — I stand up and bow when I answer the phone. But that criticism did give me extra motivation."

She continued, "I didn't feel any added pressure because the reason I took part in the pageant was my friend's death. My goal was to raise awareness of racial discrimination. Now I have a great platform to deliver that message as the first Black Miss Universe Japan. It's always hard to be the first, so in that respect, what Naomi Campbell did was really amazing."

As for her own childhood, Miyamoto shared, "I used to get bullied as a kid, but I've got mentally stronger, to protect myself. When I was small I stood out and always felt I had to fit in with everyone. I'd try not to bring attention to myself, but now I say what I feel. I do things my own way. I want to start a revolution."

21. Avan Jogia

Avan Jogia at an event
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Avan Jogia is of Indian, English, and Irish descent. He published Mixed Feelings, a combination of poetry and interviews with other mixed-race individuals that focuses on self-identity, in 2019.

In a 2019 interview with 34th Street about Mixed Feelings, Jogia shared, "I realized the collective mixed experience is so similar. It doesn’t matter what the racial background of those mixed-nesses are. We are all unified in the similarities of the experience."

"I never had anything that I could point to that I could be like, ‘Hey, this is what the mixed experience is,’" he expanded, "So, if it offers that, that to me is like the goal here, to be at least a little bit of a framework or a guideline, or at least ask the right questions that might inspire you to define or figure out who you are."

22. Jessica Henwick

Jessica Henwick at an event
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Jessica Henwick is of Zambian English and Chinese Singaporean descent. In a 2020 interview with Mixed Asian Media, Henwick talked in detail about her identity: "When I first visited Hawaii, I was called hapa all the time. It's nice to acknowledge mixed-race ancestry — it's more than just DNA. It's about your interests, your palate...being raised with a foot in two different cultures. The beauty of that, as well as the obstacles you face."

As for her own childhood in England, Henwick shared, "I grew up in an area with no Asians. My brothers and I were the first non-white students at our school. It was rough, I won't lie. But it built in me a mental armor that got me to where I am today. I find it interesting to look back at just how effectively I would compartmentalize. I think anyone who has grown up between two cultures can understand this. I would completely code switch, depending on where I was and who I was with.

I had two lives; the first where I went to a Roman Catholic school, ate mashed potatoes at lunch, and played Conkers with the kids in the playground, and the second where I would spend months with my Ma running up jungle trails in Ipoh, staining my hands purple with mangosteen and bathing out of a rainwater bucket.

When I would go to Singapore or Malaysia, our friends there would struggle to understand my British accent for the first few weeks. And when I returned to the UK, my school friends would laugh at me because my voice had changed, they said. I could not for the life of me hear it, but I'm sure they were right."

23. KJ Apa

A closeup of KJ Apa
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KJ Apa, born Keneti James Apa, is of Samoan, Scottish, English, and Irish descent. In a 2017 interview with Vulture, Apa opened up about his family, saying, "I have a massive Samoan family. And the Samoan culture has always played a massive part of my life. I’ve got hundreds of family on my dad’s side that live in Samoa and in New Zealand. I’ve just been surrounded by the culture ever since I was a kid."

He continued, "I actually used to speak Samoan, but me and my sisters all kind of lost it. We go there at least once a year to see family. And my dad recently just got a traditional Samoan tattoo. He’s a chief in Samoa, so he got that tattoo to commemorate it."

In a 2021 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Apa elaborated, "[My dad] is a matai, yeah. He holds the matai title, chief title, of the village that he's from and I'm from, called Moata'a, in Samoa." When asked if the title would then pass to him, he responded, "I don't know. I can't speak Samoan, so it'll be something for me to take that would be kind of, I would think it's a huge responsibility. I don't really feel adequate, to be honest, but I doubt myself in almost everything that I do."

24. Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi smiles at an event
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Yara Shahidi is of Black and Iranian descent. In a 2017 interview with Teen Vogue, where she opened up about being biracial, Shahidi said, "Being someone that is half-Black and half-Iranian and proud of both sides, it gave me a community of people that identify as Blackish."

She continued, "Because so many times, if you are of any race, there is a certain feeling of this meter of like, ‘How Black am I? How Iranian am I?’ and it's hard when you're both to feel as though you can coexist as both and be fully both.'"

25. Hines Ward

Hines Ward, number 86, on the field at a Steelers game
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Hines Ward is of Black and Korean descent. In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, the current football coach and former wide receiver opened up, "It was hard for me to find my identity. The Black kids didn't want to hang out with me because I had a Korean mom. The white kids didn't want to hang out with me because I was Black. The Korean kids didn't want to hang out with me because I was Black. It was hard to find friends growing up. And then once I got involved in sports, color didn't matter.”

When discussing the ostracism and discrimination mixed-race children in South Korea face, Ward said, "It's a great culture. I love everything about it. But there's a dark side to that culture. And me, I’m just trying to shed a light on that dark side and make Korea a better place than it already is."

26. Darren Criss

Darren Criss smiling
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Darren Criss is of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, English, German, and Irish descent. In a 2020 interview with People, Criss opened up about his identity: "I’ve been half-Filipino my whole life. But no one ever asked about it. It’s tough, this idea of ‘white-passing.’ It’s not even a term I heard of until the past two years. When people have a say in who you are — people you don’t even know — it makes you rethink what your balance is. Something you’ve had down your whole life. It’s a tricky cocktail in America. I’ve always been proud of my heritage, of being Filipino. Just because people don’t see it, doesn’t make it any less real to me."

In a later interview with the Wrap, Criss expanded, "You’re dealing with two experiences that present different reactions. Not only internally, but externally. Who are you to the world? How do they see you? How do you see yourself? What happens if you happen to look more like one half than the other, which one are you?"

"In my mind, I was just me. My mom’s Filipino and my dad’s a white guy, and that’s just kind of how it is. You could argue, well maybe that’s because you’re white-passing and nobody ever questioned anything," he pointed out, “and then I feel bad and I go, Oh god, did I somehow turn my back on my Filipino-ness? Like, at what point am I supposed to raise my hand higher for that? I don’t know the answer."

27. H.E.R.

H.E.R. at an event
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H.E.R., born Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, is of Black and Filipino descent. In a 2018 interview with WWD, she said she "identifies strongly with both sides," and that her home as a kid was distinctly Filipino. She took her shoes off at the door, and her grandparents lived with her — always cooking.

She continued, "My dad would throw down with the soul food when we had our Black side over. Black culture, to me, is so important and I identify with young Black women. I represent young Black women, and I’m proud of that."

28. Wentworth Miller

Wentworth Miller at an event
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Wentworth Miller is of African American, Jamaican, German, English, Russian, Dutch, French, Syrian, and Lebanese descent. In a 2004 interview with the Guardian about the movie Human Strain (which follows the story of "a light-skinned African American man who decides to 'pass' as white to facilitate a life and a career that would otherwise be inaccessible to him in 1940s America"), Miller said:

"'There were a number of things I understood automatically about this character. 'Passing' is not something that has crossed my mind. On the other hand, being of mixed race you do have this question of, 'Well, maybe I don't have to answer to any particular community, since I'm not really a part of any particular community. Maybe I only have to answer to myself.' It makes you a kind of racial lone ranger."

In a 2017 interview with Interview Magazine, Wentworth elaborated on growing up mixed race and his identity, "To be honest, it wasn’t something l took a very close look at until I got to college, which I think is what college is all about: self-examination and dealing with those questions of 'Who am I?'"

When asked if that self-examination caused him any anxiety, Miller answered, "If it did, it came from the fact that other people were trying to define me and my own journey. There’s a quote I often refer to from Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which is that 'definitions belong to the definers and not the defined.' The beautiful thing about having grown up in Brooklyn is, because of the rich cultural and racial diversity there, no one seemed to give too much thought to where I fit on the racial spectrum. But there were times when I would run up against someone who was interested in figuring out what race was. That would come as a surprise, and in some cases, like a slap in the face."

He elaborated on how his identity played into his acting, "Well, the backstory to anyone of mixed race is a lifetime spent being incorrectly perceived and choosing either to allow that misperception to continue or to correct it, so I am aware of identity and race as being much more fluid, I think, than someone who is 'purely' one thing or the other. And acting does challenge me to address those particular issues."

29. Saweetie

A closeup of Saweetie
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Saweetie is of Black and Filipino descent. When asked how being biracial affected her growing up in a 2019 interview with HelloGiggles, she said, "I definitely felt out of place at times because the cultures that I was raised around were completely night and day. But I feel like those [types] of internal struggles help me understand people better, and I now know that not one set of people is the same." 

She continued, "Like, my mom is of Filipino descent and my dad is of Black descent, so it allows me to be sensitive to other people's cultures. Because sometimes people might not communicate or understand the things that I do. I might not understand what someone else is doing, but I'm always able to know that people come from different places and have different understandings."

30. Jason Momoa

A closeup of Jason Momoa
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Jason Momoa is of Native Hawaiian, German, Irish, and Native American descent. In a 2018 interview with the New Paper, Momoa talked about Aquaman's significance to mixed-race people, saying, "And honestly, to be the first mixed-race superhero in 2018... That is a huge honor."

He noted, "And also just to play it so close to who I am, with all of Arthur's imperfections. I don't have to be Superman — I am not. But I got to play it as someone who really is split between two worlds, and I am excited for the world to see it."

31. Henry Golding

Henry Golding in a tux
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Henry Golding is of English and Malaysian descent. He opened up about being mixed race in a 2018 interview with Bustle: "I felt like if you were an Asian mix, were you allowed to belong in any society or were you just meant to be on the outskirts?"

Golding expanded, saying, "Just because by blood I'm not full Asian doesn't mean I can't own my Asianness. And I relate so much more with my Asian side. I sound ridiculously British, but I was born in Sarawak [Malaysia]... Like, I'm from the tribe in the middle of the jungle — you cannot get any more Asian than that. I’ve grown more than half my entire life in Asia, exposed to more cultures than you can shake a stick at just through what I've done in the past. If anyone can relate to being Asian in the Asian culture, it was me."

32. Jemaine Clement

Jemaine Clement at the FX Star Walk Winter Press Tour
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Jemaine Clement is of Māori and European descent. He's a direct descendant of Wairarapa chief Irāia Te Whāiti, who was a Ngāti Kahungunu leader, farmer, and historian.

In a 2015 interview with Stuff, Clement talked about being mixed race: "I'm part white, but I'm not just white. And I don't think of myself as white, because I wasn't brought up that way. When they say 'white guys' when they're talking about me and Taika [Waititi], they're imagining a completely different life, completely different things. They're imagining this privilege that we didn't have."

He also noted, about the attention People Places Things received for his onscreen "interracial" romance with Regina Hall in the US, "As a mixed-race person, I see race as largely bullshit. Anything I do is interracial! One great thing about New Zealand is 'interracial' doesn't mean anything. We're used to it."

33. Jessie Mei Li

A closeup of Jessica Mei Li smiling
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Jessie Mei Li is of Chinese and English descent. In a 2021 interview with the Beat, Li talked about her own childhood: “Growing up, as a mixed-race person, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me, let alone Asian people, generally. And if they were onscreen, they were always a fairly two-dimensional role, a lot of times, especially in western TV shows and films."

She continued, "I think, for lots of people [who are] mixed-race or first-generation immigrants, you spend so much of your life not feeling like you belong anywhere. I certainly grew up in a predominantly white area, and I was always ‘the Chinese one’ to my white friends, but to my Asian friends and family, I was very English, and you never really feel like you belong anywhere. My race is a big part of my life, but it’s not everything that I am."

34. Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens smiles at an event
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Vanessa Hudgens is of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, French, Irish, and Native American descent. In a 2011 interview with Reuters, Hudgens talked about how she sees her mixed identity as a positive: "I wasn’t Latin enough or Asian enough or Caucasian enough. I’m never going to be anything enough because I’m different things. The one thing I’m really blessed with is my various ethnic backgrounds."

In a 2021 interview with Glamour, Hudgens opened up about her mother and Southeast Asian representation in film: "My mom is from the Philippines, and growing up there weren’t really that many women who looked like me and my mom and my family on screen. It’s so important to share all the different stories because America is a massive melting pot, [just like the] world. There are so many different stories that need to be told so that we are exposed to them and can have more empathy towards different people."

She added, "As an immigrant, coming into the States and not knowing anyone, I can’t even imagine how difficult and challenging that is and what challenges she faced as a woman."

35. Alexa Chung

Alexa Chung on the red carpet
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Chung is of Chinese and English descent. In 2009, she tweeted, "I’m 3/8 Chinese 5/8 English. A very silly fraction. Less than a half, more than a quarter. Pass it on so I don't have to explain again. Thanks."

Despite this, Chung's descent seems to remain a topic of confusion to many. In 2016, the Telegraph reported that there are 42,000 Google searches every year relating to her ethnicity.

36. Nicole Scherzinger

Nicole Scherzinger looking serious at an event
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Nicole Scherzinger is of Filipino, Native Hawaiian, and Russian descent. She was born in Hawaii, and, in an interview with Pacific Citizen, she said, "My mother, growing up, would dance the hula and Tahitian with her family. My mother taught me hula when I was really young."

She also opened up about being a mixed-race artist, explaining she faced challenges getting work "especially because I started out in theater, and a lot of people didn't understand what my nationality was or what race I was. So, they were a little confused on how to cast me or what my place was. But it was really confusing at first because people wanted me to be like the Puerto Rican girl, the sidekick, the Puerto Rican best friend."

37. Enrique Iglesias

Enrique Iglesias in front of a mic
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Enrique Iglesias is of Spanish and Filipino descent. He was born in Madrid to Spanish singer Julio Iglesias and Filipina journalist and socialite Isabel Preysler.

When asked in an interview what country he would like to help, Iglesias responded, "A lot of countries in Latin America, because they’ve given me so much in return. And another country would be the Philippines, because I’m part Filipino."

38. Devon Aoki

Devon Aoki at an event
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Devon Aoki is of Japanese, German, and English descent. In a 2006 interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Aoki discussed her identity: "My mom is German-English. I grew up with my mom, but I can’t escape the way I look, and my whole life I’ve had a strong sense of self because of it. I’ve watched my father (Benihana restaurateur Rocky Aoki) and all of the achievements he’s made; I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps in some ways in changing the dynamic of how Asians are interpreted."

She then expanded, "There weren’t a lot of people who were even allowed to represent for our culture, being from the East. So every movie I do, that’s a thought in my head that I have to represent for Asian people. That’s really important to me."

39. Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn at an event
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Olivia Munn is of German, Irish, English, and Chinese descent. She predominantly grew up in Japan, though she moved back to Oklahoma for her last two years of high school.

When asked about the struggles she encountered trying to establish herself in a 2019 interview with Prestige Hong Kong, Munn revealed, "I’d go out for so many auditions, for everything. And then I’d be told, 'You’re too Asian' or 'You’re too white.' I remember someone telling me, 'Don’t feel bad. One day they won’t be trying to match you to fit with anyone else. You’ll just be hired for you.' So you can’t help but get frustrated. That’s part of it all."

40. Ross Butler

A closeup of Ross Butler smiling
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Ross Butler is of English, Dutch, and Chinese Malaysian descent. In a 2020 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Butler discussed how he felt growing up mixed race in America and how he turned to film as a means of escapism:

"You don’t really feel like you belong. You don’t feel like you have people you can lean on or who understand what you’re going through; it was isolating. I became a social chameleon. I got really good at fitting the mold of who I thought people saw me as."

41. Kimiko Glenn

Kimiko Glenn at the premiere of "The Suicide Squad"
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Kimiko Glenn is of Japanese, Scottish, Irish, and German descent. In a 2018 interview with IndieWire, Glenn talked about she has had more opportunities in voice acting than acting: "It opens up the whole voice-over world to me because you can’t see my face. I get to express myself however I want."

She continued, "Being biracial in this industry is kind of an interesting thing. I’ve always been hyperaware of that because I’ve been told so many times you’re not Asian or white enough."

42. Janel Parrish

Janel Parrish at an event
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Janel Parrish is of Chinese, Irish, English, and German descent. In a 2015 interview with SheKnows, Parrish revealed, "Being a mixed-race actress was very difficult, especially growing up."

She continued, "When you’re younger and you have to fit into a family and you’re of mixed race, you don’t quite fit into the Hollywood look — which is usually the blond-haired, blue-eyed girl next door — and so I would audition for those roles, and they didn’t quite know where to place me."

43. Naomi Scott

A closeup of Naomi Scott
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Naomi Scott is of Indian and English descent. Speaking to her background in an interview with Teen Vogue, she said, "There were moments growing up where you’re like, 'Oh, I don’t really feel Indian enough.' But now I’m at a place where I’m like you know what? It’s okay. It doesn’t make me any less Indian, or any less half Indian. My two favorite meals — one is my mum’s curry and one being a roast dinner. And that is me in a nutshell."

About her experience in Hollywood, Scott shared, "There’s a thing of someone [being] like, ‘She’s not white, she’s not Black, she’s not Latina, what is she?’ There were definitely a few leads that I went for where I think, ultimately, I was maybe the other choice, the ‘exotic’ choice, or the ‘other.’"

44. Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars smiling
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Bruno Mars is of Flipino, Spanish, Puerto Rican, and Jewish descent. In a 2017 interview with Latina magazine, Mars reflected on not being easily categorizable: "There are a lot of people who have this mixed background that are in this gray zone. A lot of people think, ‘This is awesome. You’re in this gray zone, so you can pass for whatever the hell you want.’ But it’s not like that at all. It’s actually the exact opposite."

Mars continued, "What we’re trying to do is educate people to know what that feels like so they’ll never make someone feel like that ever again. Which is a hard thing to do. Because no one can see what we see and no one can grow up with what we grew up with."

45. Maggie Q

A closeup of Maggie Q
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Maggie Q is of Vietnamese, Polish, and Irish descent. In a 2008 interview with Today, Q explained that after leaving the Hong Kong film industry to come to the US, American filmmakers were confused by her biracial background:

"They think, ‘Wow, what is this? There’s this girl. She’s Asian, but she’s not. ... They’re really not sure where to put me. It’s a struggle. You got to win roles. You really got to fight for them. When I left Asia and went to the US, essentially I was starting over. It’s very hard. It’s a lot of work."

46. Karrueche Tran

A closeup of Karrueche Tran
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Karreuche Tran is of Black and Vietnamese descent. In an interview with Jet Magazine, she said, "I’m all for diversity and anything multicultural. I’m half Black and half Vietnamese and grew up very diverse. I had an Asian godmother and Korean best friends, so being a Black actor and being involved in the industry is amazing." 

Tran expanded, "I would love to be able to contribute to the community of African American actors. We need more of them out there, just period. People look at me and ask 'What are you?' and I tell them Black and Vietnamese and they think that’s really cool. I love and am happy that I’m able to bridge these two cultures."

47. Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Mark-Paul Gosselaar looking serious
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Mark-Paul Gosselaar is of Dutch and Indonesian descent. In a 2019 interview with Newsweek, MPG was asked if his own interracial experiences helped him bring depth to his TV family on Mixed-ish:

"Being someone who is mixed, I never had to think about it until it was brought up, because of the way I looked. I was arguably America's favorite white boy at one point, and it's like, 'Wait, that guy is mixed?' It's one of those things that because of the way I looked I didn't have to deal with it. It's a conversation I have had and I do have with my kids because they are — as well — mixed."

When speaking to Hollywood Outbreak in 2021 about Mixed-ish, he said, "Back in the '80s, I think people struggled with knowing what a mixed family really was. I am a product of a mixed family. My father is Dutch, and my mother's Indonesian. Because I looked the way I did, I really never had to go through some of the experiences that some of the characters on [Mixed-ish] are going through, and that’s fortunate and unfortunate." 

He continued, "Nowadays, people are much more accepting. There's been a lot more discussion about it. I think there's still a long way to go, but we are trending in a direction that I think is positive. And on our show, we try to tackle those issues through the lens of comedy, which I think is an easy way for people to digest the message."

48. Jhené Aiko

Jhené Aiko smiles
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Jhené Aiko is of Spanish, Dominican, Japanese, Native American, Black, and German descent. In a 2019 interview with Revolt TV, Aiko talked about the pressure she faced to conform to the entertainment industry's standards: "When I started going on auditions, they would put me for roles [as] the Spanish girl, or the Japanese girl or the Black girl.”

She continued, "When I was 12 [or] 13, someone told my mom, ‘You should really play up one or the other. You should straighten her hair so she could look more Asian, or you should keep her hair natural and curly and put a little bronzer on her so she [will] look more Black."

49. Karen O

Karen O at the 2021 "Where Is Anne Frank?" screening
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Karen O is of Korean and Polish descent. O was born in South Korea, and her family moved to the US before she was 3. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, she discussed how she struggled to assimilate: "I didn’t speak Korean, so I couldn’t hang with the Koreans. And when I’d hang out with the whiteys, I was always self-conscious about being half-Korean."

By eighth grade, O was forced to reckon with what it meant to be different: "I was hanging with some popular girls but sort of as their pet. I was the novelty, you know? And then it turned on me in a pretty dramatic way." She told the New York Times that this experience caused her to identify as a "weirdo," which ultimately led her to rock 'n' roll.

50. Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell smiles with her hand on her hip
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Campbell is of Jamaican and Chinese descent. In spite of this, she faced racial discrimination when she was informed her picture would not be used for a campaign in an Asian country.

In 2019, Yahoo News reported that when speaking to the BBC, Campbell explained, "Something happened to me the other day and I was quite taken aback. I did a campaign for someone and I was told one of the countries in Asia won’t use the picture because of the color of my skin. It doesn’t stop me. That’s just another country that has to be shown that it is ignorant and that is not the way of the world right now on the global scale. Ironically, I have that gene in my family."

51. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris smiling
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Kamala Harris is of Jamaican and Indian descent. In her 2019 memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris explained that she and her younger sister, Maya, "were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture," but that her mother still "understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters. She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as Black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud Black women."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Harris asserted, "...when I first ran for office that was one of the things that I struggled with, which is that you are forced through that process to define yourself in a way that you fit neatly into the compartment that other people have created. My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it."

52. Michael Yo

Michael Yo smiles and wears a black T-shirt and denim jacket
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Michael Yo is of Black and Korean descent. In a 2013 interview with HalfKorean, Yo talked about growing up mixed in Texas: "I was pretty much the only mixed kid in school. In Houston, I went to a predominantly white school and if you were Black, you were Black, and if you were Asian, you were Asian. There [were] no mixed kids. It was different times back then, especially in that area. I got called all kinds of racist names. When kids don’t know what you are, they can be very mean. They were trying to be mean, but they didn’t know how it affected me. I was very insecure growing up being both."

He continued, "When I hung out with Asian kids, the Black kids would get mad. When I grew up, I guess I connected most with the Black and white kids because I played sports, and I wasn’t a great student. We had one [Asian kid] on our basketball team, then a couple of Black kids, and then mostly white kids. I didn’t really connect with my Asian side until I started doing stand-up."

53. Kristin Kreuk

Kristin Kreuk at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards
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Kristin Kreuk is of Chinese and Dutch descent. In a 2017 interview with DC Comics News, Kreuk talked about her experience as a mixed Asian actor: "I started a long time ago, and my first job I played a half-Asian girl, which is my heritage. Which didn’t happen again until I guess Street Fighter? I played my heritage, and then every role after that shut out playing my heritage. So I often played white characters because I have wide eyes, and my hair is actually not the blonde [gestures to her current hair], but my natural hair color is light because I didn’t challenge them in the way that I looked. It didn’t come up as an issue for me. So personally, I didn’t think I felt the limitation for my career.

But I believe there is a strong issue that I have friends who are full-Chinese who really struggle to get their careers off the ground because there just isn’t the roles available. Like if I’m looking for, in Canada, an actress to play my mom: Chinese actress, I guess if she’s young, in her fifties, if she’s the right age, probably in her sixties. They are hard to find. I just don’t think there has been the opportunities available for people.

And I think that is changing and obviously, people like Constance Wu and those guys are really shifting the narrative on that. Even if we’re talking Indian, Aziz Ansari. I think what they are doing is really important. And in Canada, it’s still a big issue. I don’t know, apart from Kim’s Convenience [a Canadian comedy], I don’t think we have a lot available. And I think stuff like this helps — making sure the characters [are authentic] for me now, I won’t play outside of being mixed race. Because I have the opportunity to do it, and that will help slowly."