Kim's Convenience star Simu Liu puts producers on blast in explosive Facebook post
Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW: Toronto actor Simu Liu just went there — and fans of Kim's Convenience will never be the same.
Liu, who played Jung on the hit television series about a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store in Toronto's Moss Park neighbourhood, just posted a long, revelatory message on Facebook about how frustrated he had become with the program's producers and fellow cast members in recent years.
Nor did he hold back when it came to spilling deets about how he was treated on set.
"Season 5 of Kim's Convenience comes out on Netflix today, and I'm feeling a host of emotions right now. It is, of course, our last season, thanks to a decision by our producers not to continue the show after the departure of two showrunners," wrote the actor.
"There's been a lot of talk and speculation about what happened, and I want to do my best to give accurate information, so I'll itemize my thoughts below."
You can read the whole thing on Liu's Facebook page, but here's a quick synopsis of what he shared:
The China-born, Mississauga-raised actor confirmed at least one of the shows' forthcoming rumoured spin-offs: The one about Handy Car Rental manager Shannon Ross.
While proud of castmate Nicole Power, who Liu says he loves and wants to see succeed, watching the new show get greenlit has been "difficult."
"I remain resentful of all of the circumstances that led to the one non-Asian character getting her own show. And not that they would ever ask, but I will adamantly refuse to reprise my role in any capacity," said Liu.
Sorry fans — no amount of petitioning or praise from the New York Times will make CBC or Netflix pick up another season of Kim's, because they literally can't.
Liu explain that the show "was not 'cancelled' in a traditional manner, i.e. by a network after poor ratings." Rather, "our producers (who also own the Kim's Convenience IP) are the ones who chose not to continue. Neither CBC nor Netflix own the rights to Kim's Convenience, they merely license it."
"I've heard a lot of speculation surrounding myself - specifically, about how getting a Marvel role meant I was suddenly too 'Hollywood' for Canadian TV," the actor explained.
"This could not be further from the truth. I love this show and everything it stood for. I saw firsthand how profoundly it impacted families and brought people together."
In one particularly damning revelation, Liu puts members of the Kim's Convenience production team on blast — something you don't often see Canadian actors do.
Liu says he was growing "increasingly frustrated" with the way his character was being portrayed as the show went on, and that he was also increasingly frustrated with the way he was being treated.
"It was always my understanding that the lead actors were the stewards of character, and would grow to have more creative insight as the show went on," he wrote.
"This was not the case on our show, which was doubly confusing because our producers were overwhelmingly white and we were a cast of Asian Canadians who had a plethora of lived experiences to draw from and offer to writers."
Liu says actors were deliberately kept out of the loop when it came to plans for upcoming seasons, only to find out key storylines just days before they started shooting. He also expressed disappointment in the fact that the characters, including his own, "never seemed to grow."
"I can appreciate that the show is still a hit and is enjoyed by many people... but I remain fixated on the missed opportunities to show Asian characters with real depth and the ability to grow and evolve."
Tight-knit as they may seem on TV (with the exception of Jung and Appa's strained father-son relationship,) Liu says he "often felt like the odd man out or a problem child."
"This one is hard because I recognize that a lot of it reflected my own insecurities at the time, but it was buoyed by things that happened in real life; nomination snubs, decreasing screen time, and losing out on opportunities that were given to other cast members," he wrote.
"This is a reality of show business, there is only so much to go around. LA became the new territory for me, and I pursued it with so much drive and vigor partially because I knew that I could not rely on Kim's to take my career where it needed to go, nor could the cast be the type of family that I had imagined."
That said, he credits all of his co-stars (who include Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang and Andrew Phung) for being committed to the success of the show, and aware of how fortunate they were to help create it.
"There will always be be a mutual love and respect," says Liu, "as well as a recognition of the bond forged from this totally unique experience of being on a hit show that changed the world."
"For how successful the show actually became, we were paid an absolute horsepoop rate," wrote Liu. "The whole process has really opened my eyes to the relationship between those with power and those without."
Liu says the cast members were willing to accept lower pay when the show was first starting out, as they were relatively unknown actors, but that the received nothing more than a "little bump-up" even as ratings soared and their contracts were extended.
"Compared to shows like Schitt's Creek, who had 'brand-name talent' with American agents, but whose ratings were not as high as ours, we were making NOTHING," he said.
"Basically we were locked in for the foreseeable future at a super-low rate... an absolute DREAM if you are a producer. But we also never banded together and demanded more - probably because we were told to be grateful to even be there, and because we were so scared to rock the boat."
Aside from the show's co-creator Ins Choi, Liu says there were no other Korean voices in the writer's room — which feels incredibly weird for a show that revolves around the life of a Korean-Canadian family.
"Our writer's room lacked both East Asian and female representation, and also lacked a pipeline to introduce diverse talents," said Liu. "Aside from Ins, there were no other Korean voices in the room. And personally I do not think he did enough to be a champion for those voices (including ours)."
Once Ins left, Liu said that himself and other cast members (most of whom are trained screenwriters) expressed interest in helping to write and direct, but "those doors were never opened to us in any meaningful way."
Respect, Simu Liu. Respect.
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