Lucy Liu Won't Take Roles Based on Token Representation; She Knows Herself Too Well

Lucy Liu could teach a seminar in what living intentionally in Hollywood looks like. The Elementary actress joined other powerful women, like Regina King, Samantha Bee, Jane Fonda, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for a conversation with Emily’s List on April 20. During the “First but Not the Last” chat, Lucy opened up about what she looks for when choosing a role, how she’s outgrown the industry’s competitive nature, and how the coronavirus pandemic made her feel more powerful in the end.

Lucy’s body of work spans decades, including several different iconic characters. As she told moderator Zerlina Maxwell, this breadth of roles and projects is intentional. “Choosing characters is something that I want to keep varied for myself as an artist,” Lucy explained. She seeks to explore the world outside of her own “microcosm” and prioritizes staying true to herself above all else. “We don’t want to just take roles because we should do it, because we are representing a race or a people,” she continued, emphasizing that people shouldn’t lose the other facets of their identities because of their race.

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