Gemma Chan

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Gemma Chan
Gemma Chan at the Moet BIFA 2014.jpg
Born (1982-11-29) 29 November 1982 (age 32)
London, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Oxford
Occupation Actress
Years active 2006–present

Gemma Chan (born 29 November 1982)[1] is a British film, television and theatre actress and former fashion model. She portrays Charlotte in season four of the Showtime and ITV2 series Secret Diary of a Call Girl; Ruth in Channel 4's award-winning series Fresh Meat; Mia Bennett in the BBC's Doctor Who "The Waters of Mars" and Soo Lin in Sherlock, She also appeared in the BAFTA-nominated film Exam and Paramount Pictures' action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. She stars in Humans, an AMC/Channel 4 eight-part science-fiction drama, which premiered in June 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Chan was born at Guy's Hospital in London, England.[2] Her father grew up in Hong Kong and was an engineer. Her mainland Chinese mother, a pharmacist at Guy's Hospital, emigrated from pre-Cultural Revolution Communist China via Hong Kong with her parents (Chan's maternal grandparents) and younger sister, growing up in Greenock, Scotland.[2] Chan was raised near Sevenoaks, a town in west Kent, in South East England[3] and attended Newstead Wood School for Girls in Orpington, in the London Borough of Bromley. She later went on to read law at Worcester College, Oxford.[4]

Following graduation, she gained a training contract offer as a graduate at the law firm Slaughter and May;[3][4] but instead pursued an acting career and studied at the Drama Centre London.[2] Spotted at her showcase by British film producer Damian Jones, she then signed to acting agent Nicki van Gelder.[citation needed]



In 2006, Chan was one of the models in season one of Project Catwalk, the UK version of Project Runway. She was one of the top three models who made it to the final,[5] although her designer did not win the final challenge.[6] She has also been photographed by Rankin for a campaign for Nivea Visage, having previously worked as a model in order to fund her studies and drama school training, appearing in campaigns for Nokia and Selfridges and numerous magazines including Elle, Cosmopolitan and The Sunday Times Style.


Chan appeared in the autumn 2009 special of the BBC's Doctor Who ("The Waters of Mars") with David Tennant and Lindsay Duncan, which aired 15 November 2009 in the UK, playing geologist Mia Bennett.[7] She was cast as a series regular in Secret Diary of a Call Girl alongside Billie Piper,[5] the fourth and final series airing on ITV2 in the UK and Showtime in the US in 2011.[8] Her other recent television projects include Fresh Meat, Channel 4's BAFTA nominated and British Comedy Award winning sitcom; Sherlock, BBC One's contemporary adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson which began airing on 25 July 2010 to positive reviews[9] and went on to win the BAFTA for Best Drama Series in 2011; and the fourth series of the BAFTA and Emmy award winning British sitcom The IT Crowd for Channel 4.[10]

In 2012, Chan was seen as a regular in season two of Sky Living's supernatural drama Bedlam[11] and in True Love, a five-part semi-improvised television series produced by Working Title for BBC One,[12] with David Tennant, Billie Piper, Ashley Walters, Jane Horrocks, David Morrissey, Lacey Turner, Kaya Scodelario and Vicky McClure.[13]

In 2013, she starred in new BBC One crime drama Shetland alongside Douglas Henshall and Steven Robertson[14] and guest starred in the BBC's Death In Paradise. In February 2013, it was announced that she would star in new Channel 4 drama Dates from Skins creator Bryan Elsley alongside Ben Chaplin, Sheridan Smith, Oona Chaplin, Andrew Scott, and Katie McGrath.[15]

Chan played the role of Anita in Humans, the AMC/Channel 4 eight part sci-fi drama, alongside William Hurt, Colin Morgan and Katherine Parkinson.[16] The series is an adaptation of the Swedish drama Real Humans. Filming commenced in autumn 2014 with a June 2015 premiere.[17]


In 2010, she appeared in the World War II drama film Shanghai directed by Mikael Hafstrom, alongside John Cusack, Chow Yun-fat, and Gong Li[18] and in the BAFTA nominated[19] psychological thriller Exam directed by Stuart Hazeldine, alongside Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon, and Luke Mably.[20] Exam was also nominated for the Raindance Award at the 2009 British Independent Film Awards[21] and was released in UK cinemas on 8 January 2010.[22] She was also seen in the critically acclaimed [23] 2011 comedy drama Submarine directed by Richard Ayoade, alongside Paddy Considine and Sally Hawkins. A passionate supporter of human rights, she has also made a film for Amnesty International to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[4]

In 2014, she appeared in Paramount Pictures' action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, directed by Kenneth Branagh, alongside Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, and Keira Knightley.[24] She will appear in The Double directed by Richard Ayoade and starring Jesse Eisenberg and London Fields directed by Mathew Cullen alongside Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Sturgess, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp.

Chan starred in the film Belles familles, by French director and screenwriter Jean-Paul Rappeneau, which premiered in 2015.[25] She spent Summer 2014 shooting in Paris alongside Mathieu Amalric, Marine Vacth, Gilles Lellouche, Karin Viard and Nicole Garcia.


Chan made her professional stage debut in the British Premiere of Bertolt Brecht's last play Turandot at the Hampstead Theatre, London, directed by Anthony Clark. In November 2012, she performed in The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie, a new play by Anders Lustgarten at the Finborough Theatre. In June 2013, she performed in the UK premiere of Yellow Face by Tony Award-winning American playwright David Henry Hwang at The Park Theatre, London, directed by Alex Sims.

In November 2013, Chan performed in the world premiere of Our Ajax by Olivier and Tony Award-winning playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Wertenbaker chose her to play the war goddess Athena after she saw her performance in Yellow Face.[26] Michael Billington, writing in The Guardian, noted that she played Athena "with beautifully svelte omniscience".[27]

In 2014, following a sell out run at The Park Theatre, it was announced that Yellow Face would be revived at the Royal National Theatre with the original London cast returning.[28]


On 6 August 2013, Chan was asked to appear as a guest on the "Cultural Exchange" feature of the BBC Radio 4 series Front Row, where she nominated the film The Princess Bride as an art work which she loves.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Chan lives and works in England. She is classically trained on the violin and piano.[5] As of 2013, she and comedian/actor Jack Whitehall have been dating since 2011 and lived together in Notting Hill.[3][30]

In September 2013, she appeared at the Old Bailey in Central London as a witness to a fatal stabbing[31] outside Putney Bridge underground station.



Year Film Role Notes
2006 When Evil Calls Molly Nelson
2009 Exam Chinese Girl
2010 Pimp Bo
2010 Shanghai Shin Shin
2010 Submarine Kim-Lin
2013 The Double Glamourous Judge
2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Amy Chang
2014 London Fields Petronella
2015 Belles familles Chen-Lin
2016 Stratton: First Into Action Aggy Post-production
2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them TBA Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Project Catwalk Herself 10 episodes (was finalist)
2009 Doctor Who Mia Bennett Episode: Autumn 2009 Special "The Waters of Mars"
2010 The IT Crowd Ivana / Female Sulu Episodes: "The Final Countdown", "Reynholm vs. Reynholm"
2010 Sherlock Soo Lin Yao Episode: "The Blind Banker"
2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Charlotte Regular (Season 4)
2011 Fresh Meat Ruth Recurring
2012 Bedlam Kiera Regular (Season 2)
2012 True Love Kathy Television miniseries
2013 Shetland Hattie James Television series
2013 Death in Paradise Jennifer Cheung Series two, episode 7
2013 Dates Erica Episodes: "Erica and Kate", "Erica and Callum"
2014 The Game Chen Mei Television miniseries
2015–present Humans Anita/Mia Main cast
2015 Brotherhood Miss Pemberton Recurring role


Year Title Role Theatre
2008 Turandot Hampstead Theatre
2012 The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie Finborough Theatre[32]
2013 Yellow Face (UK premiere) The Park Theatre
2013 Our Ajax (World premiere) Athena Southwark Playhouse
2014 Yellow Face Royal National Theatre


  1. ^ "Gemma Chan". Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Randall, Lee (27 May 2012). "Interview: Gemma Chan, star of True Love". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Johnson, Lucy Hunter (10 May 2013). "Gemma Chan: the bombshell actress who tamed Jack Whitehall". 
  4. ^ a b c "Actress – Bio". Gemma Chan official site. 7 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Gemma Chan – IMDB
  6. ^ Project Catwalk – Season 1
  7. ^ Robert McElwaine (18 November 2009). ""Doctor Who" The Waters of Mars (TV Episode 2009)". IMDb. 
  8. ^ "Showtime Picks Up Final Secret Diary of a Call Girl Season". 18 June 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Sherlock well received by critics". Digital Spy. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  10. ^ ""The IT Crowd" The Final Countdown (TV Episode 2010)". IMDb. 6 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Lacey Turner to Join Supernatural Drama Bedlam". Radio Times. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "True Love". 
  13. ^ "Starlet fever: We're ready for our close-up". Mail Online. 4 March 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  14. ^ Walker-Arnott, Ellie (7 March 2013). "Douglas Henshall, Steven Robertson and Gemma Chan in BBC1's Shetland - see a trailer and photos". Radio Times. 
  15. ^ Jeffrey, Morgan (5 February 2013). "Sherlock, Merlin, Fresh Meat stars for new Channel 4 drama Dates". Digital Spy. 
  16. ^ "William Hurt Heads Cast of AMC-Channel 4-Kudos Co-production ‘Humans’". Variety. 15 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Deadline casting for Humans". Deadline. 13 October 2014. 
  18. ^ denis888 (2 October 2015). "Shanghai (2010)". IMDb. 
  19. ^ "Full list of BAFTA nominations". Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  20. ^ amalh (17 June 2010). "Exam (2009)". IMDb. 
  21. ^ "Nominations 2009". Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  22. ^ Creepy, Uncle (4 December 2009). "Official quad one sheet of Exam". Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Submarine". 3 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Harman, Harout (31 January 2013). "Jack Ryan Photos with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner". 
  25. ^ "Food for thought for the picnicking set". London Evening Standard. 12 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Jury, Louise (12 September 2013). "Classical role in theatre for Fresh Meat and Sherlock star Gemma Chan". London Evening Standard. 
  27. ^ Billington, Michael (8 November 2013). "Our Ajax - review". The Guardian (London). 
  28. ^ Singh, Anita (20 March 2014). "Sir Tom Stoppard play to open at the National Theatre". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  29. ^ BBC Radio 4 - Front Row's Cultural Exchange - Gemma Chan
  30. ^ Parker, Olivia (28 May 2013). "My perfect weekend: Gemma Chan, actress". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  31. ^ Cheston, Paul (17 September 2013). "Sherlock star Gemma Chan reveals how she 'stared into eyes of calm killer'". London Evening Standard. 
  32. ^ "Vibrant - 2012 Productions". Finborough Theatre. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 

External links[edit]