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.
100% me but from 4 years ago when I did a stock photo shoot for $120!!!— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) March 14, 2018
That stock photo shoot always finds a way to come back and haunt me LOL— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) September 25, 2018
Although the pictures taken in a corporate setting appear to be more popular, images of Liu "dancing at a dance studio" will soon be the most popular shot of the superhero pre-spandex:
In a tweet in February 2020, Liu brought up his past gig as a stock photo model via a screenshot of someone asking if the model was indeed Liu.
Legitimately wondering if I am the greatest stock photo model of all time.— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) February 21, 2020
Totally unrelated note, please stop buying these photos. pic.twitter.com/vbcdHGyDyk
Besides the screenshots of what appeared to be online images, fans also shared their encounters with his images in print in the Twitter thread.
Liu's mug appeared in:
1. An advertisement for a regional public transit system in Ontario, Canada
2. A banner promoting financial services at a conference expo
3. An advertisement for an international banking group
4. A poster at a Canadian fitness centre.
How it's going
On May 24, 2021, Buzzfeed featured a tweet by user @shangswilson thrusted Liu's past as a stock image model back into the spotlight.
This stock photos of Simu Liu are so funny help #$&@* pic.twitter.com/08bDdOY5kS— carlos⩔ saw shang-chi! (@shangswilson) April 21, 2021
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.
SIMU LIU USED TO MODEL FOR STOCK IMAGES HELPP pic.twitter.com/jsxCnckhjA— . (@magiksupreme) September 5, 2021
On Sep. 7, 2021, yet another advertisement featuring Liu surfaced.
babe wake up new simu liu stock photos just dropped pic.twitter.com/BfGhn2nlv3— ivy ⚢ (@lesbianmlean) September 7, 2021
Liu himself contributed to the growing popularity of his stock photos by making a meme out of it on the same day:
Me laughing at the people who thought we’d flop pic.twitter.com/7UoLqRXlCJ— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) September 6, 2021
On Sep. 8, 2021, iStock replied to Liu's tweet with a link to the stock photos in question, to which Liu replied:
Is the door open to share in the hundreds of thousands of $$ you made off those photos cause I was paid a hundred bucks— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) September 7, 2021
Liu's face continues to grace billboards and posters, albeit more predominantly as a movie actor instead of just a stock photo model.
Top images by iStock and Simu Liu's Twitter page.
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