Sam Song Li Talks The Brothers Sun, Asian American Identity



Image Source: Ziyang Wang

When Sam Song Li got here throughout the position of Bruce on “The Brothers Sun,” he felt just like the character was written uniquely for him. In Netflix’s new action-packed drama sequence, Bruce’s life is upended when his older brother, Charles (Justin Chien), who seems to be a Taiwanese gangster, involves LA to guard their mother, Eileen (Michelle Yeoh). When Li first learn the script, he shortly realized he shared quite a few “shockingly shut” similarities along with his onscreen counterpart. Like Bruce, the 27-year-old actor and content material creator was raised by a single mother within the San Gabriel Valley, CA, a predominantly Asian American neighborhood the place the sequence partially takes place. Similarly, he additionally dreamed of being an actor and improv comic, regardless of his mother’s hopes that he’d turn into a health care provider. “I really feel like that particularly is simply actually relatable for lots of Asian Americans,” he tells POPSUGAR.

That’s why Bruce’s story was private to Li, who was born in Guangzhou, China. He drew from his personal experiences to authentically painting Bruce — and the character’s relationship with Mama Sun particularly. “I used to be raised by a single mother, and my mother in actual life is my hero,” he says. “She raised me and my sister all by herself. To see a single father or mother have all the burden of the duties of elevating a child, you are taking it as a right when it is occurring. I introduced that vitality and perspective into Bruce in his love for his mother.”

Against his mother’s finest needs, Li finally determined to pursue performing. Amid creating comedic content material and racking up a following on TikTookay and Instagram, he booked smaller roles on reveals like “Never Have I Ever” and “Better Call Saul.” When he landed “The Brothers Sun,” it was a welcome shock; he did not think about a job like this one to return about so early on in his profession.

The Brothers Sun. (L to R) Sam Song Li as Bruce Sun, Michelle Yeoh as Mama Sun in episode 104 of The Brothers Sun. Cr. James Clark/Netflix © 2023

Image Source: Netflix

As if securing his first main position – and one he associated to so deeply — wasn’t thrilling sufficient, “The Brothers Sun” was additionally the primary time Li labored alongside an all Asian writers’ room and a majority Asian American forged. “Our manufacturing was uniquely Asian American in so many aspects, however I believe one factor that actually stood out to me was that we actually observe what we preach on the present,” he says. “In the present, the household, and the way you deal with folks as a household, is the focus of the story. We as a crew actually had that connection. We felt actually enthusiastic about what we have been doing, what was occurring in entrance of us, no matter if the present was successful or not. I believe the one factor we have been all holding onto was that this was a really particular second.”

The forged’s robust connection was additionally sustained by meals — an indicator of many Asian cultures. There have been Asian snacks and meals out there on set on a regular basis, together with boba no less than as soon as every week. According to Li, Yeoh would order meals from a unique native Chinese spot each week. “She would at all times shock us with one thing,” he says.

“I’ve at all times felt I used to be not Westernized sufficient for Hollywood, and never Asian sufficient to work in Asia.”

Growing up, it will’ve been troublesome for Li to think about an expertise just like the “Brothers Sun” set. Asian and Asian American illustration on display was few and much between. “I’ve at all times felt I used to be not Westernized sufficient for Hollywood, and never Asian sufficient to work in Asia,” Li says, describing a battle all too widespread for Asian Americans, each out and in of the leisure trade.

But with the inflow of APIA tasks in theaters and on streaming platforms previously three years, Li’s perspective on his future in performing has modified drastically. “I’ve realized the course that Hollywood and the world is shifting is connecting the globe in so some ways,” he explains. “Content is not only for a Western or American viewers proper now. Content is for a worldwide viewers.”

As a outcome, he is been capable of search out roles which are tied to his upbringing and id. “The one widespread thread between all the roles I gravitate in direction of is that they’re a part of my id, not simply based mostly on race, however actually who I’m as an individual or the experiences that I’ve had,” he says. Aside from taking part in Bruce on “The Brothers Sun,” he shot a pilot in 2023, “Marvin Is Sorry,” wherein he performs a mega influencer and content material creator who will get canceled. “Numerous the weather and nuances of that story I felt like I gravitated in direction of as a result of it was simply one thing I knew very intimately,” he says.

Looking ahead to the longer term, Li feels optimistic about extra cultural tasks like “The Brothers Sun.”

“That freshness, the authenticity of storytelling, is extra vital than ever,” he says. “Any time we will present new views, have a recent tackle one thing, or present the world one thing they’ve by no means seen earlier than, that’s what I believe Hollywood and world audiences are craving.”


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