Simu Liu’s path to stardom has been circuitous and singular, and his upbringing was similarly nonlinear and not cut-and-dry. Per Toronto Life, Liu was born in the northeastern Chinese metropolis of Harbin in 1989, and according to HuffPost, he spent his first few years of life living with his grandparents, because his mother and father had decided to become the first people in the family to leave China, and they had emigrated to Mississauga, Ontario, a large city outside of Toronto. By the time he was five years old, Liu’s parents (his father won a spot in a graduate program at Queen’s University) were financially ready to bring their son over. But they were essentially strangers to young Liu. “I was excited to finally meet my real parents and start my life in Canada, but I had no recollection of you,” Liu wrote in an open letter to his parents published in Maclean’s.
After moving to Canada, the sudden and complete replacement of parental units, along with adapting to a new culture, proved shocking and difficult for Liu. “We fought often … If I scored below an A, I was stupid,” he wrote. “I ran away from home in 2005 after a particularly bad fight.” Liu added that in the present day, he and his parents don’t talk much about his childhood, but in 2019 he signed a deal to write a memoir, which really goes “back to the lives of my parents as they grew up in China.”