Chinese-born Canadian actor, author, and stuntman. He is known for portraying Shang-Chi in the 2021 Marvel Cinematic Universe film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Simu Liu is best known as a Marvel superhero, but the actor recently showed off his real-life superpowers by donating $100,000 to the hunger-fighting nonprofit Feeding America.
The Chinese-Canadian actor made the surprise donation Wednesday night during the first-ever BoxLunch Holiday Gala benefitting Feeding America, held at City Market Social House in Los Angeles. It was Liu’s debut as the retailer’s inaugural Giving Ambassador, a title he took quite literally.
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When the executives at BoxLunch — which specializes in pop culture-focused merchandise, not “artisanal sandwiches” like Liu joked — told the actor that they planned to donate $100,000 to Feeding America, the Marvel star hatched a secret plan to match the sum out of his own bank account.
When Liu took the stage during the program, he told the crowd, “I feel a very personal connection to their mission. The pandemic has adversely affected many communities of color and families. I saw and felt that within circles of people that my parents knew, my extended family knew, and witnessed just how difficult things have been over the last couple of years.”
It’s in these times of uncertainty that it’s important to focus on “taking care of one another,” Liu added, joined onstage by Casey Marsh, Feeding America’s chief development officer. The actor then presented Marsh with a gigantic check for $100,000 in honor of the 150 million meals the nonprofit has provided since Feeding America and BoxLunch first partnered in 2015, according to Variety.
“I’m just looking at this number, $100,000. It’s a really big number, but what’s bigger than $100,000?” Liu wondered aloud. “Let’s say for the sake of argument $200,000… “
Then another presenter appeared onstage carrying a second giant check for $100,000, which Liu signed on the spot. As the audience cheered, Marsh explained that that combined donation would cover the cost of two million meals for people in need.
Moments after the presentation, Liu stepped backstage for an interview with Variety. “I feel like I lived up to my namesake as giving ambassador,” Liu said, still buzzing from the adrenaline of the surprise. “I feel like that’s not a title that one takes lightly.”
Like he’d mentioned in his remarks onstage, food insecurity is a cause close to Liu’s heart after growing up as “the definition of poor,” living off his parents’ scholarship money when the family emigrated from China.
“We were discount-aisle shoppers at the supermarket, getting all the stuff that was about to go bad. We didn’t really have any savings to our name, no support system to back us up,” Liu recalled.
Even just a few years ago, donating $100,000 would’ve been totally out of the question. Before “Shang-Chi,” and even “Kim’s Convenience,” Liu simply didn’t have that kind of money to give.
“You turn the clock back six years ago, I was in credit card debt wondering when I was ever going to be able to break free of minimum payments and interest and the struggling artist’s lifestyle,” he said. “The privilege that I’ve experienced, just how fortunate my life has been, how amazingly blessed I’ve been in these last few years, that’s not lost on me.”
Nights like the BoxLunch Gala further encourage him to share his bounty with others. “It is wonderful to revel in one’s success and all that, but it’s truly so necessary, and a responsibility and a duty to give back, to be of service and to constantly look for ways to make the world better with the resources that are available,” he noted. “That can happen at any scale.”
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