There are only a handful of actors whose presence is so captivating on screen that even after you’ve finished viewing a film or TV series you can’t quite seem to get them out of your mind. If you’ve seen Crazy Rich Asians or Eternals, then you can attest to the fact that Gemma Chan is indeed one of those artists. Not only does she have serious performance chops and seemingly effortless style, but she’s also got a heart for people, particularly women.
Chan, who is a L’Oréal Paris Global Ambassador, is working with the beauty brand to spotlight women across the country who are working in their communities to impact change in a variety of sectors ranging from fashion to education. To celebrate the new class of Women of Worth (a philanthropic program inspired by L’Oréal’s tag line “Because You’re Worth It”), L’Oréal Paris is bringing its documentary-style special, L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, back for the second year in a row to share the personal journeys and triumphs of 10 non-profit leaders from across the nation. In the special, which airs on NBC on Dec.16, Chan, among other L’Oréal ambassadors including Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, and Kate Winslet, interviews honorees on their specific efforts and work that landed them this honor.
“To get to chat to them and listen to their stories was an amazing experience and so inspiring,” Chan tells TZR. “They come from completely different backgrounds, but they're all doing really invaluable work within their communities.”
Ahead, Chan talks more about her passion for uplifting women, the beauty staples she always turns to for instant confidence, and her hopes for increased representation in the beauty industry.
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What was the best part about working on the Women of Worth special?
The most memorable and rewarding part for me was getting to travel to Paris and to meet the honorees, who are this amazing group of women.
Who is one woman in your life who has served as a personal inspiration to you?
My first inspirations were my grandmothers and my mom. They are brave, fierce women who have sacrificed so much for my family and they continue to inspire me today. I've also been working with an amazing producer called Nina Yang Bongiovi who has been mentoring me as I am moving toward producing more projects. She has been incredible in how she uplifts others and her approach to her work. I feel very, very lucky. I've had amazing women in my life.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Well, usually I splash cold water on my face to wake up. Then I will cleanse and maybe do a bit of [jade] roller-ing, put a serum on, and a caffeine eye cream or an eye serum of some sort. There's a new one that L'Oréal Paris just released, which is a hyaluronic and caffeine eye serum that is great. It has a roller ball that massages the eye area; I get quite a lot of puffiness when I'm tired, so, that's really good [for my skin]. I also use an eye massager that mimics the tapping movements of a Korean facial in the eye area, and that just feels really nice.
What’s your go-to secret weapon when you want to look and feel good?
I think a bold red lip can always uplift you. It can always lift your mood. There is a shade of red from the Reds of Worth collection called Successful Red, which is a gorgeous, lush classic red. If you pop that on, you kind of feel ready for anything.
Do you have a favorite workout/wellness practice?
I was given a book of poetry called A Poem For Every Night of the Year. And each day there's a poem that's been curated and tailored towards a particular day or holiday or season. And, yeah, it's one of those things that I've been saying for years — “I must read more poetry” — and whenever you read it you're like, Why don't I read this more often? It's a really accessible way to just have a bit of that beauty of language and imagery each day. So I've been sticking to that and reading that, and it’s been really wonderful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a teenager, my mom told me not to over-pluck my eyebrows. I didn't listen to her. I over-plucked them. They took years to grow back. So, mom, you were right.
After a lot of time spent traveling, what’s one food that always brings you back home?
Well, a comfort food for me is Sunday roast, which is what we have in the UK. I find it really comforting — roasted potatoes and gravy and all the trimmings I love.
In what ways would you like to see AAPI women better represented specifically in the beauty space?
I think we've made great strides in the last few years in terms of representation in general and also in the beauty space. And I think I'm grateful to the people in those positions of power and the editors that have really pushed the boat out on that front — I’m thinking of people like Michelle Lee, [former editor-in-chief of] Allure and Edward Enninful [editor-in-chief at] British Vogue. I think we've expanded our idea of what's beautiful, which is about time, but we could just keep pushing further.