CHINESE POP STAR TO HOLLYWOOD SUPERHERO
Witty. Humble. Beautiful. Modest. That about sums up the very endearing Chloe Bennet.
Even just by looking at her Instagram account, you can already tell that Chloe’s a down-to-earth and sarcastic individual. Well, after a long day shooting at the beautiful Phoenix in West Hollywood, we were rewarded with some well-earned margaritas as we sat down to talk about her journey from Chinese pop star to Hollywood superhero.
The Chicago born actress started out as a pop star in China. You might already know that from her many appearances on The Jimmy Kimmel show where she talked about the strange requirements whilst recording out there. “We would be in the studio and they’d be like ‘okay so can you do a little bit more Britney Spears on this line to give it a little bit more edge’ and then for the next line they’d just be like ‘now for this bit we want some Macy Gray.’” She performed a special rendition of those voices for me… You should YouTube her appearance on Jimmy to hear it. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Her down-to-earth persona is no doubt from her humbling upbringing and large family. “Being raised with six brothers you definitely have this like, I think I understand things more. Men can be such a mystery so growing up with six of them, nothing about men are mysterious at all to me now! I don’t know if that’s bad or good but it makes me more confident. It’s more of a laid back energy, they would wrestle me all the time.”
And not just that, her family is mix from all over the globe. “I have four older brothers and two younger. Two are African American, one is Filipino and the rest are Chinese. I’ve kind of lived in this bubble of acceptance and diversity growing up so everything that’s been happening especially here in America recently, has been so wildly disturbing to me, it hits me hard because you forget that not everybody is like that.”
Apparently being part of a family who was a mixture of all these ethnicities was a rare occurrence in Chicago. “I grew up in the inner city of Chicago and my family stuck out like a sore thumb! My dad’s Chinese, my brothers are black, my other brothers Mexican/Filipino and we just stuck out. No one knew what we were, it was kind of this ball of energy and people looked at us weirdly. I just want people who are in situations like me to feel like they don’t need to worry about it because that’s what you should value. Everyone has something different about themselves. Something they should be proud of.”
Her Instagram profile literally reads, “Mostly Asian always hungry,” so already you know she’s proud of her heritage. At a young age she changed her last name from Wong to Bennet but her roots in the Chinese culture are still so important to her. “I’m 50% Chinese, I don’t want to get away from that, it’s who I am, it’s my Dad and he’s one of my best friends. My Dad’s first name is Bennet, and in the Chinese culture, keeping your fathers last name is a big part of the culture so I wanted to still keep his name, which is why I changed it to Bennet.”
Another contribution to her grounding personality is no doubt her long-term boyfriend and fellow actor Austin Nichols, from One Tree Hill and The Walking Dead. They met while working together and the brunette beauty admitted it’s something she’d like to do again. “I would love to, he’s such a good writer and he’s so smart. I would love for him to write something and maybe direct it. It’s also fun to play love interests when you’re working with the person you love because it’s so effortless. It wouldn’t feel like work.”
Growing up with that many men in the house, I was curious as to how her brothers felt about her budding relationship with Austin at the beginning, which of course is when she proceeded to tell me about her three big fears in life. “I’m scared of sharks, I’m scared of the people who stand outside of grocery stores who make you feel bad because you’re not donating any money and I’m scared of bringing the people I’m dating home to my family. Everyone in my family is really incredibly smart and really knowledgeable about current events and sports, especially as I’m from Chicago. If you can’t keep up with the pack, it’s terrifying. But now we’re all on a big text thread so it’s all fine! Everyone was great and they loved him. I was like phew I can’t be with anyone else now because that was too stressful, I’m done. That was enough!”
Despite being taken, that hasn’t stopped her bevy of fans from expressing their undying love for her. I told Chloe about a very interesting admirer of hers who once wrote at the end of an article, “I’m so in love, as childish as it may be to be so attached to a woman that I’ve never met. Chloe Bennet is my WCW, for now and forever.”
She laughed so hard I’m pretty sure she choked a little on her margarita. “Oh my god. It’s really funny because if you know me, confidence is a weird thing with me. I’m really confident in who I am, my motto for living my life here in LA is to just be as authentic and as brave as I can be because that’s all you can be. And then to have stuff like that said it’s super crazy because even Austin before I came to do this shoot he’s like, ‘you’re so sexy and you don’t see it in yourself.’ I just have a hard time taking myself seriously in that way. The second I start thinking that I’m cool I trip or sit on gum. I’m not even joking.”
Despite her quick wit and my British sarcasm we did manage to talk about some things close to Chloe’s heart. “I suffer from anxiety and that’s something I’ve been challenged with my whole life. I mean I’ve had so many panic attacks since I’ve been here. Mental health is something that should be taken very seriously. I workout so I can stay mentally healthy. You know if I said I have a doctor’s appointment I can’t make it, everyone would be incredibly lenient but if you say oh I have to go see my therapist, or I have to go see my psychiatrist, people would be like what’s wrong with you, are you okay?”
She didn’t hold back when talking about how this affects her. “I see a therapist on a regular basis and that has helped me so much. It’s helped me as an actor, it’s helped me as a person. I’m a huge advocate for people taking care of themselves mentally. I suffer from anxiety, I’ve had depression, it’s hard. Especially with social media, instant gratification of how you look and getting your self worth in likes and hearts and retweets. It’s so crazy.”
So although her Instagram posts are light hearted and witty, she still worries about them. “All the time. I get anxiety every time I post something. Because I’m like well if they don’t like it. Self-deprecation is what I’m about. I can’t take myself too seriously. I post something that I think is pretty, I have to be honest about the fact that I think I look pretty and I want you to like this so like this please. I’m going to be completely honest about it.”
So of course when explaining her brand and style, her candid wit came out once again. “People try and post this perfect lifestyle and they’re selling that as their brand. If my brand is anything it’s going to be like yes I go to Target and buy toilet paper and that’s part of my life. If I take a selfie, honestly 98% of them look like s*** and I have food in my teeth, I look bad, so I pick the one that maybe looks okay and filtered it and now you see that version of me.”
She is a woman of many talents and has been playing the female superhero Daisy Johnson on Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since the very beginning. “I’m the only superhero that is ethnic, which I’m proud of.” After a dark season three finale with the death of Lincoln Campbell, you can see Chloe’s character Daisy coping with the tragedy. The show airs on ABC Tuesdays at 7pm.
stylist SARA DINKIN
makeup ASHLEY DONOVAN
hair MICHAEL KANYON
manicure PILAR NOIRE
Production Bello media Group | Words by Michelle Ganney