Born In: Southwark, London, England
Gemma Chan is a British actress and a fashion model, best known for starring in the critically and commercially successful film Crazy Rich Asians. Gemma was born to first-generation immigrants from China and Hong Kong. Her father wanted her to pursue law, but she wanted to become an actor. After studying law at the University of Oxford, she attended acting classes at a drama school and made her TV debut in 2006 with the mini-series When Evil Calls. In the next few years, she appeared playing supporting roles in several films, such as The Double, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Shanghai, and Submarine. She was also seen on television in various supporting and recurring roles in several series, including Sherlock, Doctor Who, Fresh Meat, True Love, and Death in Paradise. In the widely acclaimed science fiction series titled Humans (2015–2018), she acted in one of the lead roles. She had her major acting breakthrough when she appeared in one of the central characters as ‘Astrid’ in the romantic comedy film titled Crazy Rich Asians. She portrayed the character Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel and Sersi in the 2021 superhero film Eternals.
Born Country: England
education: Worcester College, Oxford, Drama Centre London
Gemma Chan was born on November 29, 1982, in London, UK, into a middle-class family. Gemma’s father was an engineer who had emigrated to the UK from Hong Kong, while her mother was raised in Scotland, after her parents moved to the UK from Hong Kong. Her mother worked as a pharmacist. She has a younger sister, Helen.
Shortly after Gemma was born, her family moved to Kent, where Gemma spent the rest of her growing-up years. She began learning the piano and the violin and also took professional training in swimming and ballet dancing during her childhood.
She was enrolled at the Newstead Wood School, a girls’ school in London. She was good in academics as well as in extracurricular activities. Though her father wanted her to pursue law, she wanted to become an actress. She also participated in many national-level swimming competitions.
Following her secondary school education, she enrolled at Worcester College, Oxford, to study law. She graduated in jurisprudence from Worcester College, Oxford and began receiving offers to work in London law firms, but instead of accepting job offers she started taking acting classes from the Drama Centre London. Because of the lack of initial support from her family for acting classes, she began modeling to pay for the classes.
She was eventually spotted by the BAFTA-winning British film and TV producer Damian Jones who guided her through her initial days in the entertainment industry. She got a talent agent for herself, named Nicki van Gelder.
Before venturing into full-time acting, she modeled for some brands and designers. She was signed as one of the models for the reality show Project Catwalk, which is the UK version of the American TV series Project Runway. She also participated in the modeling campaign for Nivea Visage, where she was photographed by ace photographer Rankin.
She made her acting debut in 2006, starring in the mini-series titled When Evil Calls. She played a small role as Molly Nelson in the series. Later that year, she also appeared in the first series of the televised version of the modeling-based show Project Catwalk, where she was one of the contestants to reach the finals
In 2008, she made her theatrical debut playing a supporting role in the play titled Turandot at the Hampstead Theatre, London.
In 2009, she gained some recognition for her supporting role as ‘Mia Bennett’ in the third episode, The Waters of Mars, of the popular British science fiction series Doctor Who.
In the 2009 psychological thriller film Exam, she appeared in a supporting role, playing an unnamed Chinese woman.
In 2010, she appeared in a supporting role as ‘Soo Lin Yao’ in the second episode, The Blind Banker, of the detective drama Sherlock. Sherlock turned out to be one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed television series by the BBC. In the same year, she appeared playing supporting roles in the films such as Shanghai and Pimp. Both the films were critical and commercial failures. However, her third film of the year, Submarine, turned out to be a big critical success. This coming-of-age comedy-drama film had Gemma playing a supporting role as Kim-Lin. The film was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was a box office and major critical success upon its release.
Gemma achieved a lot of recognition following her acclaimed performance in the film Submarine. In 2011, she further appeared playing an important role in the final season of the British drama series titled Secret Diary of a Call Girl. In the same year, she was cast in a recurring role as Ruth in the comedy dram series titled Fresh Meat.
In 2012, she played a major role in the supernatural drama series titled Bedlam, wherein she portrayed a free-spirited girl named Kiera.
In 2013, she appeared in a supporting role in the black comedy thriller titled The Double. The film had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was a huge critical success upon its theatrical release.
She was also a part of the series titled True Love, where she met her co-actors on the set and was given free rein to “flesh out” her role the way she wanted.
In 2013, she acted in a play titled Yellow Face, which was showcased first at The Park Theatre, London. A year later, the show was revived again and showcased at the Royal National Theatre. While she was promoting the play, she admitted to the fact that there were very few roles for Asian actors in non-Chinese-related productions.
In 2014, she essayed one of the key roles in the action thriller film titled Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Though the film was financially successful, the critical response to the film was mixed.
In 2015, she appeared in a supporting role in the French comedy-drama film titled Families, portraying the character of Chen-Lin. The independent film was selected to be premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. That same year, she starred in a major role as a robot named Mia/Anita in the science fiction series titled Humans. The series received critical and commercial acclaim. Gemma was also praised for her performance in the film and received a nomination for a Broadcasting Press Guild Award for her role as Anita. Around the same time, she did voice acting for a lead character in the film Transformers: The Last Knight and in the mini-animated series Watership Down.
In 2018, she had the biggest career breakthrough when she landed the key role of Astrid in the romantic comedy film titled Crazy Rich Asians. The director of the film, Jon M. Chu, had considered Gemma for the lead role, but she turned it down and chose to play the even more interesting character of Astrid. The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews upon its release and was also a major commercial success. Gemma received special mentions for her role in the reviews. Since this film became the highest-grossing romantic comedy movie of the decade, Gemma became a bankable star. She is all set to reprise her role in the upcoming sequels of the film as well.
In 2018, she appeared playing a supporting role in the mystery thriller film titled London Fields. That same year, she was seen in a key role in the historical drama film titled Mary Queen of Scots. She later appeared in supporting roles in films such as Captain Marvel and Let Them All Talk
Gemma Chan dated comedian Jack Whitehall in the early 2010s. They remained in a relationship until their separation in 2017. In 2018, Gemma began dating actor Dominic Cooper.
She has been associated with Save the Children, and in 2017, she traveled to meet Syrian child refugees in Lebanon. She has also been associated with many such organizations like Cook-19, UNICEF UK, and Soccer Aid.
In 2013, she appeared as a witness to a stabbing incident at the Old Bailey criminal court in Central London.
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