'Shang Chi' star Simu Liu started out as stock photo model, now fans can't get enough of posed shots

A familiar face.

Karen Lui | September 08, 2021, 12:11 PM

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Canadian actor Simu Liu played various roles, both big and small, before he bagged the titular role in Marvel's latest cinematic release, "Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings".

Most fans may recognise the 32-year-old from the popular television show, "Kim's Convenience", but vestiges of Liu's humble beginnings can be found online as he used to model for stock images.

How it started

Prior to the announcement that Liu would be playing the first Asian lead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in July 2019, the actor highlighted his previous participation in a stock photo shoot in a tweet in February 2017.

In a follow-up tweet, he explained the irony of appearing on a cover of an accountancy software was the fact that he had worked for Deloitte after graduating from business school and got laid off because he was "so bad".

Fans continued to tag him in images they came across through 2018.


Although the pictures taken in a corporate setting appear to be more popular, images of Liu "dancing at a dance studio" will soon be the most popular shot of the superhero pre-spandex:

Photo by iStock.

Photo by iStock.

Photo by iStock.

Photo by iStock.

In a tweet in February 2020, Liu brought up his past gig as a stock photo model via a screenshot of someone asking if the model was indeed Liu.

Besides the screenshots of what appeared to be online images, fans also shared their encounters with his images in print in the Twitter thread.

Liu's mug appeared in:

1. An advertisement for a regional public transit system in Ontario, Canada

Image by @optimusharu on Twitter.

2. A banner promoting financial services at a conference expo

Image by @MariaMomof2 on Twitter.

3. An advertisement for an international banking group

Image by @_pat_wong on Twitter.

4. A poster at a Canadian fitness centre.

Image by @ScoobySnax15 on Twitter.

How it's going

On May 24, 2021, Buzzfeed featured a tweet by user @shangswilson thrusted Liu's past as a stock image model back into the spotlight.

In an undated Instagram Story, the Shang Chi actor clarified that he "did ONE stock photo shoot for 100 bucks cash in 2014" that resulted in his appearance in ads, storefronts, pamphlets, and textbook covers.

He also urged others to think twice before doing a stock photo shoot as the stock photo companies own the photos "FOREVER".

On Sep. 5, 2021, after the launch of the highly-anticipated superhero movie, user @magiksupreme once again reminded the public of Liu's humble beginnings as a stock photo model.

On Sep. 7, 2021, yet another advertisement featuring Liu surfaced.

Liu himself contributed to the growing popularity of his stock photos by making a meme out of it on the same day:

On Sep. 8, 2021, iStock replied to Liu's tweet with a link to the stock photos in question, to which Liu replied:

Liu's face continues to grace billboards and posters, albeit more predominantly as a movie actor instead of just a stock photo model.

Photo from Simu Liu's Twitter page.

Photo from Simu Liu's Twitter page.

Top images by iStock and Simu Liu's Twitter page.

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