The time is now for Canada’s own Chantal Thuy

With more demand for Asians in film, the Black Lightning co-star eyes the next step in her budding career.

It took an exchange program in San Francisco for Montreal’s own Chantal Thuy to recognize the lack of representation in the film industry. 

Fluent in English, French, and Vietnamese, the Canadian received her first taste in acting through short films while in college, and was exposed to Asian-American films during her stint in the U.S. 

Only 20 years old at the time, she felt that acting was something she would enjoy — and through that experience and return to Montreal, her eyes were opened to the need of Asians in entertainment. 

“Montreal is a melting pot,” Thuy said. “There are people from all cultures and languages spoken in Montreal but as a whole, the media landscape on the French-Canadian side is very specifically the Quebec culture that is represented.” 

Listen to our full interview with Chantal below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Thuy’s journey to now becoming part of that growing Asian inclusion in entertainment started in the theatre. She graduated from Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and proceeded to live in New York for one year. 

Having resided in Los Angeles for the past five years, Thuy has appeared in multiple theatre productions, including The Lady Was Gentleman, and co-starred in the Tracy Letts play Linda Vista.

A recent conversation at an event for Linda Vista with one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors affirmed the growing demand for Asians in film. 

“He told me it’s my time,” Thuy said of her chat with the famed Warren Beatty, who had asked her if she had done any film yet. “I told him there aren’t too many roles for Asians right now and he said ‘It’s coming!’ 

“The landscape is slowly changing. There has been more demand and inclusion.”

Photo credit: Alex Cole

Her most recent work in February saw her as the character Minnie in Linda Vista. The play follows Wheeler, a 50-year-old Caucasian misanthrope, and his relationship with women, and the dysfunctional chaos that results from mid-life crisis. Hailing from Linda Vista, San Diego, Mini is in her 20s with a rebellious and mouthy streak — a complete opposite from the minority trope that most Asians would have. 

Thuy will also co-star in the Broadway staging of the play, expected to premiere in September.

“It’s very common for Asian artists to fight between two places,” Thuy said. “One is for parental culture, and the other is individuality and who you are. I tried for a long time to fit into what my parents wanted — go be a doctor or an engineer, or study business, but I failed at chemistry, and I failed at math. 

“Then, I had a mentor when I was 17, who gave me a book called ‘The Prophet.’ A passage from it talked about parents and how you come from parents, but you aren’t them; like a bow and arrow. After that, I told myself that I would follow my heart. I’ve always been an artist.” 

Photo credit: Michael Chinnici

In the TV show Black Lightning, her Asian-American superhero character, Grace Choi, is in a relationship with Anissa Pierce, adding to a role that also speaks to the LGBTQ community.

“I get feedback from young girls who are watching the show, and messages from girls who are bisexual and feel that their voices are being recognized,” she said. “There are women of colour who have also become fans of the character, the relationship, and the show. It represents something they don’t normally see on television.” 

Photo credit: Black Lightning

While in theatre school five years ago, Thuy and her classmates would write down qualities used to describe each other. At the time, she received responses such as free-spirited, edgy, and kind. Fast forward to today, and she believes that they would say she’s more grounded. 

“There’s been a huge transformation,” she said of her time in L.A., adding that it took her quite a while to heal from losing a close friend. “It made me re-examine my life, priorities, values, and beliefs. I spent two years recreating my belief system and direction of my life.” 

Upcoming Work 

Aside from preparing for her Broadway debut, Thuy has recently been working on getting a screenplay for the book, “That Summer In Provincetown” — which she describes as “a bunch of short stories.”

“I feel very connected with some of the characters and stories,” she said. “There’s a journey of discovering yourself and your sexuality. I find it interesting to develop a story that’s based on family bond.”

Black Lightning season three premieres on Monday, October 7th on The CW at 9 PM and the return of Thuy’s character Grace was teased at SDCC.

Want to hear more from Chantal? Listen to our full interview with her below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:

Rapid Fire Questions (aka the Lightning Round) with Chantal Thuy and Natasha Jung
When boba is life – Tea time with Chantal Thuy

Making Asian American media

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