The news that Kim’s Convenience was going to end after this season came as a shock to all who loved the show. Many, many articles have already been written about the suddenness of the announcement and the outcry from fans to tie up loose ends was immediate — even Saturday Night Live got on the “Save Kim’s” bandwagon. But to the Reel Asian community, this show was more than just proof that a show full of Asian faces could draw a worldwide audience.
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Simu Liu, Andrea Bang and Andrew Phung — the people behind the beloved onscreen characters — elevated the show to cult status among the self-described super fans known as Kimbits. The stars of Kim’s Convenience created characters that were familiar and relatable to those of us who grew up in immigrant households. Generous with their time, gracious to their fans and always thinking about how to give back to their community, the cast earned the adoration of their following. Reel Asian considered them as part of our extended family, and we were able to connect them directly to our community on numerous occasions over the years.
Back in 2012, long before Marvel came calling, Simu Liu made his film debut in a short made by a first-time filmmaker in RA’s inaugural Unsung Voices, our free summer-long film production program for youth. The next year, he took part in the program himself, directing and starring in a short called OPEN GYM. Fast-forward to 2017: Kim’s was in its second season and already a huge hit. As part of RA’s industry program, a lucky group of audience members got to watch an episode of Kim’s prior to airing, then had the chance to ask cast members Lee, Yoon and Liu some deep and probing questions afterwards. In 2019, Andrea Bang took part in the festival’s first-ever “live read”, reading from a script written by filmmaker Yung Chang; Andrew Phung hosted our lunar new year fundraiser just before the pandemic shut everything down, then recorded one of our anti-piracy videos for the 2020 festival; and coming full circle, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee chose Reel Asian’s Unsung Voices program as the beneficiary of a fundraiser he co-organized with US culture writer Jeff Yang — a special online table reading of the pilot episodes of FRESH OFF THE BOAT and KIM’S CONVENIENCE by each show’s respective cast members.
Of course, none of this would’ve been possible without the show’s writer and creator, Ins Choi, who took his successful Fringe Festival run to higher heights, showing the world that a story by and about Asians could have universal appeal.
Like so many others, we’re big fans of the show and it pains us to see it all come to an end so abruptly. But there’s no doubt that we haven’t seen the last of this talented and beloved group of actors — and we will continue to do what we can to push people through the doors they opened for Asian creatives on both sides of the camera. Thank you, Paul, Jean, Simu, Andrea, Andrew and Ins, for giving us the most realistic representation of an Asian Canadian family *and* Canadian culture ever before seen on screen, week after week for five years. The gap you’re leaving behind won’t easily be filled, and we’ll miss you.