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Gemma Chan (born 29 November 1982)[1] is a British film, television, and theatre actress and former fashion model. Born in London and brought up in Kent, Chan attended the Newstead Wood School for Girls and studied law at the University of Oxford. She gained a position in a law firm following graduation, but chose to pursue a career in acting instead, studying acting at the Drama Centre London. In 2006, she was a competitor on the first series of the reality television series Project Catwalk, and made her acting debut in the independent horror serial When Evil Calls. Her film debut was in the psychological thriller Exam (2009), followed by her portrayal of Mia Bennett in the BBC's Doctor Who special "The Waters of Mars", a guest appearance as Soo Lin in Sherlock (2010), and supporting roles as Charlotte in season four of the Showtime and ITV2 series Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2011), and Ruth in Channel 4's Fresh Meat (2011).

Gemma Chan
110818 Gemma Chan in an interview for Collider Video.png
Chan in 2018
Born (1982-11-29) 29 November 1982 (age 36)
London, England
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
Years active2006–present
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese陳靜
Simplified Chinese陈静

Chan continued to garner recognition for her roles in high-profile films including Paramount Pictures' action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), the fantasy film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). She also starred in the leading role of Anita/Mia on the AMC/Channel 4 science-fiction drama Humans (2015-2018). In 2018, Chan received widespread recognition for portraying Astrid Leong-Teo in Jon M. Chu's romantic-comedy Crazy Rich Asians. Her upcoming roles include Bess of Hardwick in the historical period drama Mary Queen of Scots (2018), and Minn-Erva in the Marvel Studios superhero film Captain Marvel (2019).


Early life and educationEdit

Chan was born at Guy's Hospital in London, England.[2] Her father grew up in Hong Kong and was an engineer. Her mother, a pharmacist at Guy's Hospital, emigrated from China via Hong Kong with her parents (Chan's maternal grandparents) and younger sister, growing up in Greenock, Scotland.[2][3] Chan was raised near Sevenoaks, a town in west Kent, in South East England[4] and attended Newstead Wood School for Girls in Orpington in the London borough of Bromley. She later went on to study law at Worcester College, Oxford.[5]

Following her graduation, Chan gained a training contract offer as a graduate at the law firm Slaughter and May,[4][5] but instead pursued an acting career and studied at the Drama Centre London.[2] Spotted at her showcase by British film producer Damian Jones, she signed to acting agent Nicki van Gelder.[citation needed]



Chan appeared in the autumn 2009 special of the BBC's Doctor Who ("The Waters of Mars") with David Tennant and Lindsay Duncan, which aired 15 November 2009 in the UK, playing geologist Mia Bennett. She was cast as a series regular in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the fourth and final series airing on ITV2 in the UK and Showtime in the US in 2011.[6] She has also appeared in Fresh Meat, BBC One's Sherlock, and the fourth series of The IT Crowd for Channel 4.

In 2012, Chan was a regular in series two of Sky Living's supernatural drama Bedlam[7] and in True Love, a five-part semi-improvised television series produced by Working Title for BBC One,[8]

In 2013, she starred in BBC One crime drama Shetland alongside Douglas Henshall and Steven Robertson[9] and guest starred in the BBC's Death in Paradise. She was a cast member of Channel 4 romantic drama Dates.[10]

Chan played the synthetic Anita/Mia in Humans, an AMC/Channel 4 eight-part science-fiction drama.[11] Filming commenced in autumn 2014 with a June 2015 premiere.[12] The second series premiered on 30 October. For her portrayal of Anita/Mia, Chan has been nominated for numerous awards.

In July 2016, Chan provided the voice for the character of Dewdrop in BBC One's animated miniseries Watership Down.


In 2010, she appeared in the World War II drama film Shanghai, the psychological thriller Exam, and the 2011 comedy-drama Submarine. A supporter of human rights, she has made a film for Amnesty International to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[5] She appeared in the action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.[13] The Double, and London Fields. Chan starred in Belles familles, by French director and screenwriter Jean-Paul Rappeneau, which premiered in 2015.[14] She also featured in the 2016 film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.[citation needed]

In 2018, Chan co-starred as Astrid Leong-Teo in the film Crazy Rich Asians.[15] She first heard about the novel Crazy Rich Asians from a text from her sister, read it on holiday, and "fell in love with Astrid".[16]


Chan made her professional stage debut in the British Premiere of Bertolt Brecht's last play Turandot at the Hampstead Theatre, London, directed by Anthony Clark. In November 2012, she performed in The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, a play by Anders Lustgarten at the Finborough Theatre. In June 2013, she performed in the UK premiere of Yellow Face by American playwright David Henry Hwang at The Park Theatre, London, directed by Alex Sims. It was revived in 2014 at the Royal National Theatre with the original London cast returning.[17]

In November 2013, Chan performed in the world premiere of Our Ajax by Timberlake Wertenbaker at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Wertenbaker chose her to play the war goddess Athena after she saw her performance in Yellow Face.[18]


On 6 August 2013, Chan appeared as a guest on the "Cultural Exchange" feature of the BBC Radio 4 series Front Row, where she nominated the film The Princess Bride as an art work she loves.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Chan started dating comedian and Fresh Meat co-star Jack Whitehall in 2011; the couple split up in 2017 after six years together, with their busy work schedules cited as the main reason for their breakup. They remained good friends following their split. [20]

In September 2013, Chan appeared at the Old Bailey in central London as a witness to a fatal stabbing outside Putney Bridge tube station.[21]



Year Film Role Notes
2006 When Evil Calls Molly Nelson
2009 Exam Chinese woman
2010 Pimp Bo
Shanghai Shin Shin
Submarine Kim-Lin
2013 The Double Glamorous Judge
2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Amy Chang
2015 Families Chen-Lin
2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Madam Ya Zhou
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Quintessa
Stratton Aggy
2018 Crazy Rich Asians Astrid Leong-Teo
London Fields Petronella
Mary Queen of Scots Elizabeth Hardwick
2019 Captain Marvel Minn-Erva Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Project Catwalk Herself 10 episodes (was finalist)
2009 Doctor Who Mia Bennett Episode: Autumn 2009 Special "The Waters of Mars"
2010 The IT Crowd Ivana / Female Sulu Episodes: "The Final Countdown", "Reynholm vs. Reynholm"
2010 Sherlock Soo Lin Yao Episode: "The Blind Banker"
2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Charlotte Regular (Season 4)
2011 Fresh Meat Ruth Recurring
2012 Bedlam Kiera Regular (Season 2)
2012 True Love Kathy Television miniseries
2013 Shetland Hattie James Television series
2013 Death in Paradise Jennifer Cheung Series two, episode 7
2013 Dates Erica Episodes: "Erica and Kate", "Erica and Callum"
2014 The Game Chen Mei Television miniseries
2015–2018 Humans Anita/Mia Lead role
2015 Brotherhood Miss Pemberton Recurring role
2016 Revolting Rhymes Snow White (voice)
2018 Watership Down Dewdrop (voice)


Year Title Role Theatre
2008 Turandot Hampstead Theatre
2012 The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie Finborough Theatre[22]
2013 Yellow Face (UK premiere) The Park Theatre
2013 Our Ajax (World premiere) Athena Southwark Playhouse
2014 Yellow Face Royal National Theatre
2015 The Homecoming Ruth Trafalgar Studios[23]


  1. ^ "Gemma Chan". Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Randall, Lee (27 May 2012). "Interview: Gemma Chan, star of True Love". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Gemma Chan on Visible Chinese". Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Lucy Hunter (10 May 2013). "Gemma Chan: the bombshell actress who tamed Jack Whitehall". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Actress – Bio". Gemma Chan official site. 7 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  6. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (18 June 2010). "Showtime Picks Up Final Secret Diary of a Call Girl Season". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Lacey Turner to Join Supernatural Drama Bedlam". Radio Times. 21 December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  8. ^ "True Love". Working Title Films. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  9. ^ Walker-Arnott, Ellie (7 March 2013). "Douglas Henshall, Steven Robertson and Gemma Chan in BBC1's Shetland". Radio Times.
  10. ^ Jeffrey, Morgan (5 February 2013). "Sherlock, Merlin, Fresh Meat stars for new Channel 4 drama Dates". Archived from the original on 16 June 2016.
  11. ^ "William Hurt Heads Cast of AMC-Channel 4-Kudos Co-production 'Humans'". Variety. 15 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Deadline casting for Humans". 13 October 2014.
  13. ^ Harman, Harout (31 January 2013). "Jack Ryan Photos with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner". Archived from the original on 14 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Food for thought for the picnicking set". London Evening Standard. 12 August 2014.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (4 April 2017). "Gemma Chan to Star With Constance Wu in Crazy Rich Asians (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  16. ^ Yamato, Jen (10 August 2018). "Crazy Rich Asians: Gemma Chan was on a legal track, now she's a movie star". LA Times. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  17. ^ Singh, Anita (20 March 2014). "Sir Tom Stoppard play to open at the National Theatre". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  18. ^ Jury, Louise (12 September 2013). "Classical role in theatre for Fresh Meat and Sherlock star Gemma Chan". London Evening Standard.
  19. ^ "Front Row's Cultural Exchange - Gemma Chan - BBC Radio 4".
  20. ^ "Comedian Jack Whitehall and actress Gemma Chan split after six years together". The Sun. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  21. ^ Cheston, Paul (17 September 2013). "Sherlock star Gemma Chan reveals how she 'stared into eyes of calm killer'". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Vibrant 2012: A Festival of Finborough Playwrights". Finborough Theatre. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  23. ^ "The Homecoming - Official London tickets - ATG Tickets".

External linksEdit