Actress, Performer, and Martial Arts Specialist Jamie Chi
Chi is one of those people. The kind of person who is near enough undefinable. The kind who reading her résumé is an act of Solomonic hairsplitting. CHI HAS worked in human rights fields in Bangkok, Dublin and Hong Kong (which included a Hong Kong transgender resource centre), is a skilled sword-fighter, deft actress, stunt professional, performance artist, AND MULAN'S #1 FAN.
Me attempting martial arts when I was a Pizza Express dough-ball kid was great in the past but something that can never happen again, like a sitcom with an all-white cast. Yet, Chi deploys martial arts to circumvent expectations of POC queer folk, curating new categories and methods of actualisation through the racial, queer body. Even bringing her kinaesthetic verve into her acting for Imperial Hunt, a spin-off of the widely and wildly popular Star Wars series.
As part of Outrageous! at the Hackney Showroom, presented by ivo theatre, Chi is set to perform a resistance piece that draws upon her own biography to narrate the experience of where tomboys "go" when they grow up. Ahead of her kinetic set, we caught up with Chi to chat role models, deracinated Disney movies, and
How much does your own identity feed into the work you do?
The first half of this piece has some elements in my own journey in searching for a place in the gender spectrum and negotiating for this space with my mother through a phone conversation.
The second part of this play is about a genderqueer human rights defender doing performance art on the street to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. They receive different reactions from the pedestrians, some are encouraging while others are a bit harsh and a few ones even physically harassed the human rights defender. The pedestrians will be speaking different languages, representing different views from the world and this reflects the everyday life of many LGBTQ defenders around the world. This is mainly influenced by my human rights background and it is also part of my identity.
Who are your role models? Who inspired you to get to this point?
Mulan, cause she is the first queer asian that i know and she kicks ass. Another one is Dory because she taught me to just keep swimming in hard times. The most important one is Ellen Degeneres because when there are so many dark and sad representation of LGBTQ+ in the society she brings a ray of sunshine and taught people to be compassionate and dance.
For Outrageous at the Hackney Showroom, you’re drawing from your own biography to explore where tomboys go when they grow up. How important do you feel it is that queer POC artists look upon themselves for inspiration?
When I was growing up, I looked up to Mulan because I couldn't find other queer asian inspiration around me, and when I found out that I couldn't be a queer warrior when I grew up, I felt lost. Fortunately, more and more queer activist in Asia are reaching out and I got to know their stories and can relate to them because of the cultural similarity. So when I am creating something, I also look upon myself in hope that people with similar background could relate and get inspired.
How does your background in human rights influence and inform your artistic work?
It influenced me a lot because the stories of LGBTQ+ defenders around the world always touches me and to me they are real life unsung superheroes. So, I wanted to put stories about them in this piece as well.
As a stunt performer and actress, you have experience both behind and in front of a camera. What first drew you to these lines of work?
I have always liked practicing martial arts and when I was figuring out how to be a queer warrior like Mulan, film and theatre made it possible to create whatever you want.