The huge success of Crazy Rich Asians made Hollywood execs realise that Asian actors not named Jackie Chan could be box office draws . Who’d have guessed that the quality of the film rather than the race of its lead actors might be important? While Asian actors Henry Golding and Constance Wu have certainly become household names due to their on-screen success, Ludi Lin is definitely getting his share of the limelight. Lin has all the attributes a smart American studio could want in a star. Born in Fuzhou, China, but educated in Australia and North America, Lin has international appeal being fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. A keen martial artist, the 33-year-old has genuine combat chops having learned Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and Olympic-style wrestling – not to mention the ripped body of someone so physically active and in possession of a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. Lin’s canny choice of roles has been impressive. He’s had parts in the likes of Power Rangers and Monster Hunt, which became the highest-grossing film in Chinese box office history upon its release; Aquaman, DC Comics’ most successful film to date; and critically acclaimed TV series Black Mirror. Now he’s got got himself a meatier role as martial arts maestro Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat , a new film out this month based on the legendary video game franchise, also starring Indonesian actor Joe Taslim . An engaging subject, we talked to Lin about his career so far, violence against Asian-Americans, the importance and impact of Bruce Lee and, of course, his new film. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) What was your childhood in China like? I wish I could let my childhood self answer this for me. I feel like a large part of my adulthood has been spent recovering the wisdom that he possessed. From what I can remember, it was filled with warmth and love. My mum was working in Hong Kong through a large portion of my childhood so my grandmother and aunt provided the love that was missing. My grandmother cherished me more than anything in the world. I wasn’t old enough to appreciate her love when she passed. My search for meaning now is also to let her know that I miss her and the love she gave me made me the person I am. My family had a lot of strong women in it. What are your happiest memories of growing up in Fuzhou? We only had the simplest things, and they made me happy beyond belief. I went on excursions with friends to find frogs and tadpoles to raise, dug up earthworms and played tag around the courtyard. My favourite time was always the Spring Festival. Fireworks, huge family feasts and pocket money. Those were the best of times. 9 Korean movies with big-name stars set to make a splash in 2021 How did you feel about boarding school? Were you anxious about being sent abroad, or did it seem exciting? Initially, I had difficulty adjusting. I was in a tight-knit family then sent thousands of miles away where I couldn’t speak the language and needed to coexist with complete strangers. I think children really need closeness and familiarity. As a Chinese student in Australia, did you ever have to deal with racist attitudes? I think people aren’t inherently racist but racist attitudes do exist. I stood up to racist behaviour because I had to, but wish there were a better solution. I think it’s amazing that the world is trying to figure out how to best tackle these issues, but we need to do more in order to create a better future for everyone in the world. Let your clothes do the fighting: mastering the Bruce Lee look View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) What was your immediate reaction to the murder of Asian women in the Atlanta spa shootings? I went through the same grieving process shared with a lot of others in our community. I felt immense shock, despair and desperation. I want to do my part in transforming these feelings into positive action to prevent tragedies like these from repeating. It is a testament to the depth of strength and love in our community that when I called my friends to check in on them, they inevitably tell me, “I’m ok, I’m just worried about others.” And even before I had a chance to call my mum, she had already called me to tell me I need to be careful out there. Bling Empire’s cast talk fighting anti-Asian hate in season two At what point did you know you wanted to be an actor? What appealed to you about acting? I think every child is a natural born actor. Role playing and using their imagination is not only a skill but it’s almost a necessity. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) You’ve studied a lot – acting in British Columbia and Los Angeles, as well as medicine and dietetics – why is that? Is it partly from worry you might not be able to make a career out of acting? I’ve never worried about jobs or careers, to me it’s all about lifelong work. The medical path was something I did to live up to family expectations because that’s how they defined success. As my own expectations grew, I realised the only way to make both my family and myself happy was to become a successful actor. I define success as being able to work on something meaningful that I can dedicate my entire life to. It doesn’t really matter what I am doing, if I’m being challenged and growing then that’s success to me. How much are the stars of Bling Empire really worth? View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) After long periods abroad, why did you want to return to China and live in Beijing? As a child in Fuzhou in southern China, a lot of what I learned referred to our capital in the north. I formed the imagery of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square before I could properly read or write. Films I watched as a child including Tunnel War (地道战) and Landmine Warfare (地雷战) refer to things that happened in the north. It always seemed like a legendary place in my mind and I thought my story wouldn’t be complete without Beijing being a vital part of it. The challenge was, the Mandarin I grew up with was heavy with a southern accent. I had to relearn my mother tongue by listening to tons of local radio and talking to Beijing locals as much as possible. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) I think I got addicted to Beijing culture. It is such an interesting place filled with nuanced humour and the richness of life. It’s a lot different than Shanghai. Beijing to me is the heart of China, where people go to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. I went there to realise a part of my childhood fantasy and start the next part of my journey as an actor without any borders or boundaries. JuJu Chan on being the latest Hong Kong martial arts star Where did you learn Muay Thai in Thailand? Was the training brutal? I trained in Muay Thai all over Thailand but I spent the most time in a small town up north in the province of Chiang Rai called Bai. The small town feels like a hidden haven away from the bustle of the city and a proper place to focus and train. We trained for eight to nine hours a day, six days a week. Getting up at 5am to jog, resting at noon when it got too hot, then training again in the afternoon until the sun set. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ludi Lin (@ludilin) Those times taught me three things: one, how much appreciation I have for getting up early to see the beautiful sunrise and the sunset that most people miss out on every day. Two: meditation for me is about using my body to step out of my head. To feel that motion and emotion are one and the same. To put so much focus on one single thing that the rest of the world fades away. Three: the best outcome of a fight is two stronger people. When I was in the ring completely engaged, I realised that my opponent and I were sharing the deepest truths about ourselves and communicating in a way that was totally honest. It didn’t matter who was beaten, because we both won. How a Bruce Lee devotee is keeping the great man’s legacy alive What would you say was your big break in your acting career? I think people often misunderstand the meaning behind your “big break”. The term comes from an observer’s perspective. To me, the big break doesn’t exist. My life has been a series of waves and I’m surfing it out and enjoying the ride. Sometimes I’m trying to catch up to the waves, sometimes I’m riding with it and it feels like it’s not moving at all, and sometimes I’m on top of it and it feels fantastic. But I know I’ll have to get off of it at some point and prepare myself to ride the next one. Every role I’ve played, from Zack the Black Ranger to Liu Kang – they’ve made an impact on my life and myself as a person. One of the most gratifying aspects is hearing how people enjoyed the performance and how it affected them. I have to say, my favourite thing is hearing from my Asian fans that I’m representing our culture well. I think my real “big break” will be when Asian culture can be shared and accepted as a regular part of any household around the world. Meet the 6 Asian talents nominated at the 2021 Oscars What was the appeal of the Liu Kang character in Mortal Kombat ? Firstly, Liu Kang appeals to my inner child because I invested a big chunk of my time in quarters to [playing] Mortal Kombat and Liu Kang was my favourite character to play. Liu Kang is a lone wolf, the lost alpha male in search of his pack. As I was kind of a vagrant my whole life, I know the feeling of being on a journey looking for the place where you belong. That longing for closeness, play and love. Liu Kang is also a monk. Spiritually that’s a place I’ve been moving closer to ever since I became vegan five years ago. It is ancient monastic tradition to do no harm, I think Liu Kang would agree with that. When you have true power, there’s no need to cause unnecessary suffering to innocent animals, but then again Liu Kang also executes people when it is necessary, so there is that. Why Leslie Cheung’s rise and fall matched Hong Kong’s The original Liu Kang takes some inspiration from Bruce Lee – was Lee an inspiration to you at all growing up? In China, I was actually much more familiar with Jackie Chan . It wasn’t until later I read into Bruce Lee and discovered how truly amazing a martial artist and philosopher he was. I know that Jackie Chan also worked with Bruce Lee and was inspired by him so in the end, again, it comes full circle. I think to be truly inspired by Bruce Lee also means to find your own way of expression . It’s why he later had reservations about teaching. Even that in itself was a form and to be formless is the best form of all. The process of growing is learning and forgetting what you’ve learned but never forget the process of learning itself. That’s how I pay respect to the great man. To learn from him constantly but never learn a thing. Bling Empire: 5 reasons Kelly Mi Li is better off without Andrew Gray anyway What do you think is the best thing about the new Mortal Kombat movie? Universe and experience. I think the best thing is definitely that it is not a movie about superheroes, it is a movie about super baddasses. This is a universe where people at the fringes have to get together and use their skills to defend the Earth. At the bottom of all the blood, gore and the endless amount of action, that’s what it’s all about: discovering your own arcana, or inner mystery, and fighting together on the side of good. It also sets up a vast universe where endless stories can be told in any of the 18 realms of the MKU [Mortal Kombat Universe]. People will have a lot to look forward to. What’s your role in the upcoming Kung Fu series that’s just about to debut? On the surface, Kerwin Tan has it all. He has charisma and wealth, but harbours a deep resentment towards his father, which leads him down a dangerous path of vindication. The origin of Kerwin’s name was a real mystery to me at first, but I’ve finally found out where it comes from, but will keep that to myself for now. All original photos: Creative Direction & Styling: Alvin Goh Photography: Evaan Kheraj Grooming: Win Liu @Lizbell Agency Dresser: Sarah D’Arcey Production: Echelon Talent Management, Alvin Goh Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .