Bringing a Little Queerness to Acting Roles
Name: Poppy Liu
Hometown: Xi’an, China
Now Lives: In a three-bedroomranch-style home on the East Side of Los Angeles with their partner, Jonah Tucker.
Claim to Fame: Poppy Liu is a first-generation Chinese American actor who plays Kiki, a sassy private blackjack dealer in the HBO series “Hacks.” Although Ms. Liu’s characters do not always identify as nonbinary or queer, “if they cast me in it, I’m like, ‘Well, this character is a little bit queer now,’” said Ms. Lui, who uses “they” for a pronoun. “I think the essence of who you are is always present, and I really embrace that.” They are also a doula to women of color and transgender people, and founded Collective Sex, a queer production company dedicated to inclusive stories about sex and healing.
Big Break: After graduating from Colgate University in 2009, Ms. Liu moved to New York City and landed various roles in downtown theater. In 2019, a casting call for “Sunnyside,” an immigration sitcom created by Kal Penn, led to the part of Mei Lin, a Chinese billionaire’s daughter. “I didn’t always see the stories that represent the people that I care about,” they said. “So, having my first experience on this incredible show with this ensemble became like a mini family.”
Latest Project: They recently played Mitzi, the spoiled daughter of a mafia boss, in the Hulu romantic thriller “Wedding Season.” But Ms. Liu’s focus has been on parenthood, after giving birth in December. “It happened really quickly, so I don’t know if I even had time to get existential about it,” they said.
Next Thing: Ms. Liu has a recurring role in Season 2 of “The Afterparty,” a murder-mystery comedy on Apple TV+, as well as on “American Born Chinese,” an action-comedy series on Disney+, in which they play Princess Iron Fan, “a celestial girlboss” who can be “emotionally manipulative.” While it’s hard to pick favorites, they are most excited about a role in “Dead Ringers,” a drama series on Amazon Prime Video. The character “is different than anything else I’ve done,” they said. “The whole tone of the show is quite dark, it’s very broody.”
Reproductive Fight: They serve on the board of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a group in Atlanta, and has helped a Mandarin-speaking patient who had a complex pregnancy. “I came on as her doula but ended up being her primary translator at the hospital as well,” they said.