Memorable movie-going moment for Jessica Henwick
NEW YORK—Jessica Henwick, who portrays Colleen Wing in Netflix’s “Iron Fist,” knows a thing or two about getting typecast—and “breaking the mold”: At age 16, she played Bo, the lead protagonist in “Spirit Warriors,” loosely inspired by ancient Chinese myths and legends.
In 2010, the 10-episode BBC children’s adventure series was considered groundbreaking, because it was the first British TV show that featured a predominantly East Asian cast, led by Jessica. Now 24, the British actress, whose mother is Singaporean Chinese and whose father is British-Zambian, was born and raised in Surrey in the United Kingdom.
But, at the streaming network’s Q1 slate event that we attended early this year, Jessica’s honest thoughts about race and identity—and how art can imitate life—struck us.
When asked in a panel what she thought needed to be changed in terms of casting in Hollywood productions, Jessica shared an eye-opening experience during a movie-going trip with her mother.
Jessica said, “I’ve only been acting for eight years, but I’ve made an effort to stay away from stereotypes. I took a lot of roles that weren’t specified as Asian. But, now, I’m interested in portraying Asian characters—and roles that tell Asian stories.
“‘The Joy Luck Club’ is not a perfect film. But, I distinctly remember watching it with my mom—and bursting into tears after the screening! I’d never ever seen my relationship with my mom [as vividly captured and portrayed] onscreen.
“So, I looked at her and asked, ‘Is that what it’s like for you?’ And she answered, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel when I look at you.’ And I said the same thing to her. So, now, I want to be able to recreate that moment for others like me.”—RITO ASILO