Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Spotlight: Cindy Chu

Name and occupation:

Cindy Chu—Actress 

What do you love most about being of Asian Heritage?

I love that I come from such a deep culture and that my parents raised us to appreciate our roots while still allowing us to branch out into our birth country, the USA.  Our family has a lot of history behind us, including being related to Zhu Yuanzhang (different spelling of the family name in English but it is the same character in Mandarin, meaning vermilion, or royal red) and I actually have met some distant cousins around the world when talking about our last names, and realized we were related to the same man from way back when. 

Tell us an interesting Asian History Fact:

Anna May Wong, the first major Chinese American actress, had to leave the USA and go to Europe in order to keep moving up in the acting world.  American cinema was too biased to allow her to grow at that time, so she went where she could make the next leap. 

Who or what inspires you most?

My grandparents and parents have all been huge inspirational figures for me.  I only have one surviving grandparent left at this time, my paternal grandmother, but I had heard all the stories of my grandparents leaving China in 1949 for Taiwan, pretty much with what they could carry on their backs.  My mom was a baby at the time, and the soldiers in her father’s squad would help carry her.  All my grandparents built their lives in Taiwan, and then my parents decided to try and make it in the USA.  My dad came here with two suitcases, one full of books, and the other clothes, and I think $600 cash in his pocket.  He managed to find some work washing dishes, and went to school and got his degree, and then spent several decades working for Chrysler.  He moved our family from Detroit to Grosse Pointe Farms so that we would have access to a great public education.  It’s amazing to me the experiences that they all had to go through in order for me to be where I am at today, and my four siblings, too. 

Something you often think to yourself that you’d like to say publicly:

Be happy, love life, enjoy the moment, and don’t be attached to material things. 


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