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Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan (born 29 November 1982)[1] is an English actress. She is known for her role as Astrid in the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians, in which she received widespread recognition, and as Anita/Mia on the television drama Humans.

Born in London and raised in Kent, Chan attended the Newstead Wood School for Girls and studied law at Worcester College, Oxford. She gained a position in a law firm following graduation, but chose to pursue a career in acting instead, studying acting at the Drama Centre London. She has had supporting roles in television series: Doctor Who special “The Waters of Mars”, Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2011), Fresh Meat (2011) and Bedlam (2011).

Chan continued to gain recognition for her roles in high-profile films including Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). She also starred in the leading role of Anita/Mia on the AMC/Channel 4 science fiction drama Humans from 2015 to 2018.

In 2018, Chan received recognition for portraying Astrid Leong-Teo in Jon M. Chu’s romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians and also portrayed Bess of Hardwick in the historical drama Mary Queen of Scots. She portrayed Minn-Erva in the Marvel Studios superhero film Captain Marvel in 2019 and will play Sersi in The Eternals in 2021.

Early life[edit]

Chan was born at Guy’s Hospital in London, England.[2] Her parents are ethnic Chinese.[3] Her father grew up in Hong Kong and was an engineer. Her mother’s parents emigrated from Mainland China to Scotland via Hong Kong. Her mother grew up in Greenock, Scotland.[2][4] Chan describes herself,[5][6] and has been reported in media, as British Asian.[7]

Chan was raised near Sevenoaks, a town in western Kent, in South East England.[8] She attended Newstead Wood School for Girls in Orpington, London. She later went on to study jurisprudence at Worcester College, Oxford.[9]

Following her graduation, Chan gained a training contract offer as a graduate at the law firm Slaughter and May,[8][9] but instead she pursued an acting career and studied at the Drama Centre London.[2] Spotted at her showcase by British film producer Damian Jones, she signed to acting agent Nicki van Gelder.[citation needed]



Gemma Chan at the Moet BIFA 2014

In 2006, she was a competitor on the first series of the reality series Project Catwalk. Chan appeared in the autumn 2009 special of the BBC’s Doctor Who (“The Waters of Mars”), which aired 15 November 2009 in the UK, playing geologist Mia Bennett. She was cast as a series regular in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the fourth and final series airing on ITV2 in the UK and Showtime in the US in 2011.[10] She has also appeared as Ruth in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat, as Soo Lin in BBC One’s Sherlock, and the fourth series of The IT Crowd for Channel 4.

In 2012, Chan was a regular in series two of Sky Living’s supernatural drama Bedlam[11] and in True Love, a five-part semi-improvised television series produced by Working Title for BBC One,[12]

In 2013, she starred in BBC One crime drama Shetland[13] and guest starred in the BBC’s Death in Paradise. She was a cast member of Channel 4 romantic drama Dates.[14]

Chan played the anthropomorphic robot Anita/Mia in Humans, an AMC/Channel 4 science-fiction drama, from 2015 to 2018.[15]

In July 2016, Chan provided the voice for the character of Dewdrop in BBC One’s animated miniseries Watership Down.


Chan made her acting debut in the independent horror serial When Evil Calls. In 2010, she appeared in the World War II drama film Shanghai, the psychological thriller Exam, and the 2011 comedy-drama Submarine. A supporter of human rights, she has made a film for Amnesty International to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[9] She appeared in the action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.[16] The Double, and London Fields. Chan starred in Belles familles, by French director and screenwriter Jean-Paul Rappeneau, which premiered in 2015.[17] She also featured in the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.[18]

In 2018, Chan co-starred as Astrid Leong-Teo in the film Crazy Rich Asians.[19] She first heard about the novel Crazy Rich Asians from a text from her sister, read it on holiday, and “fell in love with Astrid”.[20] On 29 April 2019, CNBC reported that Chan is to reprise her role as Astrid in the back-to-back filming of two sequels to Crazy Rich Asians set for filming in 2020.[21] She also featured in the short film titled Leading Lady Parts in support of the Time’s Up movement.[22]

In August 2019, she joined the cast of Marvel Studios’ The Eternals, which is set to be released in February 2021. This is her second role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after previously appearing as Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel.[23]


Chan made her professional stage debut in the British premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s last play, Turandot, at the Hampstead Theatre, London, directed by Anthony Clark. In November 2012, she performed in The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, a play by Anders Lustgarten at the Finborough Theatre. In June 2013, she performed in the UK premiere of Yellow Face by American playwright David Henry Hwang at The Park Theatre, London, directed by Alex Sims. It was revived in 2014 at the Royal National Theatre with the original London cast returning.[24]

In November 2013, Chan performed in the world premiere of Our Ajax by Timberlake Wertenbaker at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Wertenbaker chose her to play the war goddess Athena after she saw her performance in Yellow Face.[25]


On 6 August 2013, Chan appeared as a guest on the “Cultural Exchange” feature of the BBC Radio 4 series Front Row, where she nominated the film The Princess Bride as a film she loves.[26]


She was one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.[27]

Personal life[edit]

In September 2013, Chan appeared at the Old Bailey in central London as a witness to a fatal stabbing outside Putney Bridge tube station.[28]

In September 2017, Chan split from her boyfriend of six years, Jack Whitehall.[29] In December 2018, Chan made her first public appearance with Dominic Cooper as a couple at the British Fashion Awards.[30]



Year Film Role Notes
2006 When Evil Calls Molly Nelson
2009 Exam Chinese woman
2010 Pimp Bo
Shanghai Shin Shin
Submarine Kim-Lin
2013 The Double Glamorous Judge
2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Amy Chang
2015 Families Chen-Lin
2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Madam Ya Zhou
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Quintessa
Stratton Aggy
2018 Crazy Rich Asians Astrid Leong-Teo
London Fields Petronella
Mary Queen of Scots Elizabeth Hardwick
Intrigo: Dear Agnes Henny
Leading Lady Parts Herself Short film
2019 Mr. Malcolm’s List Short film
Captain Marvel Minn-Erva
2021 The Eternals Sersi Post-production
TBA Let Them All Talk Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Project Catwalk Herself 10 episodes; finalist
2009 Doctor Who Mia Bennett Episode: “The Waters of Mars”
2010 The IT Crowd Ivana / Female Sulu Episodes: “The Final Countdown”, “Reynholm vs. Reynholm”
Sherlock Soo Lin Yao Episode: “The Blind Banker”
2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Charlotte Regular (season 4)
Fresh Meat Ruth Recurring
2012 Bedlam Kiera Regular (season 2)
True Love Kathy Television miniseries
2013 Shetland Hattie James Television series
Death in Paradise Jennifer Cheung Series 2, episode 7
Dates Erica Episodes: “Erica and Kate”, “Erica and Callum”
2014 The Game Chen Mei Television miniseries
2015–2018 Humans Anita/Mia Lead role
2015 Brotherhood Miss Pemberton Recurring
2016 Revolting Rhymes Snow White (voice)
2018 Watership Down Dewdrop (voice)
2019 I am Hannah Hannah TV film
2020 Thunderbirds Are Go Professor Kwark (voice) Episode: “Icarus”


Year Title Role Theatre
2008 Turandot Hampstead Theatre
2012 The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie Finborough Theatre[31]
2013 Yellow Face (UK premiere) The Park Theatre
Our Ajax (World premiere) Athena Southwark Playhouse
2014 Yellow Face Royal National Theatre
2015 The Homecoming Ruth Trafalgar Studios[32]


  1. “UPI Almanac for Friday, Nov. 29, 2019”. United Press International. 29 November 2019. Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2020…actor Gemma Chan in 1982 (age 37)
  2. Jump up to:a b c Randall, Lee (27 May 2012). “Interview: Gemma Chan, star of True Love“. The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013.
  3. “Gemma Chan reveals her parents’ pride”. MSN. 28 July 2019. Retrieved 28 August2019.
  4. “Gemma Chan on Visible Chinese”. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  5.  Joanna Tran (21 June 2019). “Gemma Chan doesn’t want to be ‘the only successful British Asian actress“. ResonateAnd now I just hope it’s going to open the door for others. I don’t want to be the only successful Asian actress or British Asian actress.
  6. Lee, Michelle (11 November 2019). “Gemma Chan on Aging, Self-Acceptance, and Being a Kid of the ’90s”. Allure.
  7.  Flint, Hanna (20 January 2020). “Is it time the all-white period drama was made extinct?”. BBC. It’s one of the reasons why she cast British Asian actor Gemma Chan … as white historical figures Bess of Hardwick
  8. Jump up to:a b Johnson, Lucy Hunter (10 May 2013). “Gemma Chan: the bombshell actress who tamed Jack Whitehall”. London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  9.  Jump up to:a b c “Actress – Bio”. Gemma Chan official site. 7 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012
  10.  Fienberg, Daniel (18 June 2010). “Showtime Picks Up Final Secret Diary of a Call Girl Season”. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January2012.
  11. “Lacey Turner to Join Supernatural Drama Bedlam”. Radio Times. 21 December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  12. True Love“. Working Title Films. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  13. Walker-Arnott, Ellie (7 March 2013). “Douglas Henshall, Steven Robertson and Gemma Chan in BBC1’s Shetland“. Radio Times.
  14. Jeffrey, Morgan (5 February 2013). “SherlockMerlinFresh Meat stars for new Channel 4 drama Dates“. Archived from the original on 16 June 2016.
  15. “William Hurt Heads Cast of AMC-Channel 4-Kudos Co-production ‘Humans“. Variety. 15 October 2014.
  16. Harman, Harout (31 January 2013). “Jack Ryan Photos with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner”. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015.
  17. “Food for thought for the picnicking set”. London Evening Standard. 12 August 2014.
  18. “Gemma Chan joins Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them“. Radio Times. 6 October 2015.
  19. Kroll, Justin (4 April 2017). “Gemma Chan to Star With Constance Wu in Crazy Rich Asians (Exclusive)”. Variety. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  20. Yamato, Jen (10 August 2018). “Crazy Rich Asians: Gemma Chan was on a legal track, now she’s a movie star”. LA Times. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  21. Karen Gilchrist. “Growing up different helped me do my job better, says ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ star Harry Shum Jr.,” CNBC, 29 April 2019. [1]
  22. “Gemma Arterton’s Time’s Up-inspired short ‘Leading Lady Parts’ takes aim at the casting process”. Los Angeles Times. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  23. “Kit Harington, Gemma Chan and Barry Keoghan join Marvel’s Eternals”. CNET. 24 August 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  24. Singh, Anita (20 March 2014). “Sir Tom Stoppard play to open at the National Theatre”. The Daily Telegraph. London.
  25. Jury, Louise (12 September 2013). “Classical role in theatre for Fresh Meat and Sherlock star Gemma Chan”. London Evening Standard.
  26. “BBC Radio 4 – Front Row’s Cultural Exchange – Gemma Chan”. BBC.
  27. “Meghan Markle puts Sinéad Burke on the cover of Vogue’s September issue”. The Irish Times. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  28. Cheston, Paul (17 September 2013). “Sherlock star Gemma Chan reveals how she ‘stared into eyes of calm killer“. London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  29. “Jack Whitehall and Gemma Chan split after six years together”. Metro. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  30. “Gemma Chan, Dominic Cooper Make First Public Appearance as a Couple”. Us Weekly. 11 December 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  31. “Vibrant 2012: A Festival of Finborough Playwrights”. Finborough Theatre. Archivedfrom the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  32. ^ “The Homecoming – Trafalgar Studios – ATG Tickets”. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  33. Source:

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