I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Toronto, Canada when I was five, the classic immigrant story. I then left Toronto for Vancouver at the age of 17 for university, studying International Relations. From then onwards, I travelled around the world; lived in Grenoble, France for a year on exchange and in Africa for 3 months, where I did a field study programme in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Growing up, I was always trying to fit in and be Western like other kids. Although Canada was very multicultural and I was luckily never bullied for my race, I still felt the need to assimilate. However, something sparked in me when I became a young adult. I took a gap year between my undergrad and masters after becoming interested in learning about my own heritage. I decided to move back to Hong Kong to discover my roots for 14 months before moving to Bristol, UK for Law school and it became one of the best years of my life.
I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was 15 years old. Back then, I was really into Suits or these Chinese dramas about lawyers. I guess my perception of what a lawyer was was very different when I was young. I wanted to work in Hong Kong, but the issue with that is that you need to be able to read, write and speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English. I can speak Cantonese fluently but my writing is basically the level of a 5 year old. So I ended up going to Bristol instead and lived there for 2 years. I then moved to London after I was able to secure a training contract and I’ve been here ever since. Being the first in my family to attend university and first in my family to become a lawyer, I often feel like I don’t fit in at work and experience feelings of imposter syndrome. I also find it difficult to find mentors that look like me or have similar backgrounds because of the issues of the bamboo and glass ceilings as an Asian female. I am still trying to navigate this space but understand that resilience from adversity is what will allow me to become a stronger person. Life doesn’t always pan out the way you envision it to, but I’ve really been trying to go with the flow and trust the process.
Along the way, through my best friend in university, I discovered my love for dance music. Through different experiences related to dance music, I was able to meet a lot of really close and lifelong friends around the world. I found a community where I was able to be comfortable with who I was and others who shared the same passions. I guess you can call this a part of my identity. What I loved most about dance music is that there is something for everyone. There are no judgements, people can be as weird as they want to be, and look out for each other, even strangers. I even worked in a record label for a bit during law school before starting my legal career. I don’t think I am an artistic person, so could never become a DJ, but I have seen the power of music and how it has saved people from depression, etc. People even tattoo label logos and song lyrics onto their bodies! This is where my reasons for becoming a lawyer had changed. I can’t produce the music, but if I am able to support the artists who are creating the music, then I am indirectly also making a difference in people’s lives. My grand plan is to combine my love for music and my interest in law and to move to Los Angeles to become a music and entertainment lawyer.
On the side, I’ve launched an online bakery which is my passion project. It all started last year when I did a bake sale to raise money for a bail bond for the Black Lives Matter movement. Essentially, there were a few protests in London, but I felt unsafe because of the pandemic. However, at the same time, I really wanted to help the cause. So, I figured out that as a quarantine chef who has been baking and cooking a lot, I could try to have a bake sale to fundraise some money for the cause. People were very supportive and I ended up raising over $1000 USD. I think it’s such a great feeling to be able to help others in my own creative way, out of my kitchen with my own two hands. I think there are many different ways you can do to show awareness and support to a cause, you just have to find your niche.
I think for me, baking is also a kind of outlet to destress. With all the unfortunate things that have been happening, especially the anti-Asian hate crimes towards the East and South-East Asian community, I decided to create this bakery and turn it into a social enterprise. 50% of all my profits will go to a charity every month and I also partner with a different charity every quarter. My bakery has also become a platform for me to support people that are doing great things within the community and to create a dialogue out of the shared interest of food. Food is a very important part of our culture! Instead of being an artist, I guess my creative outlet are these special baked goods which have an Asian element or twist to it. It’s a way for me, as a third culture kid myself, to bridge the western and Asian cultures together.
I don’t usually participate in photoshoots because I’m not a model, so I was a bit apprehensive. However, my close friend at work kept encouraging me. I think it’s to do with self confidence and belief that these kinds of things are usually left for people who are actors or actresses or professional models. Because of my friend’s encouragement, I just went for it, because the worst case scenario is that I don’t get casted. It was a leap of faith for me because I don’t like being the centre of attention.
I think a lot of times we become self conscious about ourselves and start having negative thoughts. However, it’s all centred around your own perception of yourself. We really need to change this mindset. Sometimes trying new things makes me a bit uncomfortable but at the end of the day, these experiences will only make you a stronger person. I also really believed in the cause because Asians in Britain are showcasing how great people from different ESEA backgrounds are. It also changes what the beauty standards are. Beauty is on the inside because looks fade. It’s important to see past the shell of a person and really know a person’s story.
Being in my mid to late 20s now, I guess I want to become a source of encouragement for the younger generation to follow their dreams and be themselves. Because of social media, people are always comparing themselves to unrealistic standards, which leads to both mental and physical health issues. My advice is that the only person you should compare yourself to is yesterday’s you. Don’t focus on comparing yourself to others, if you are able to clear that headspace, you will be surprised at your own potential in what you can achieve. The world is your oyster, nothing is impossible!
Producers: @chrispoonmd & @stephfungal
Assistant photographer: @jordancoxtv
Makeup artists: @nanayumua & @lecreaturedibeatrice