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Student Blog: You Have Always Been My True North

An appreciation for the Shadow & Bone cast and crew.

Student Blog: You Have Always Been My True North

It has been a little over three weeks since the release of Netflix's Shadow and Bone, now is the time to share my thoughts and appreciation. I loved the books all of them. They were amazing in every way. I love fantasy and the Grishaverse was so fun and beautiful. Beautiful characters and beautiful storylines. So, obviously when I found out about the adaptation, I was super excited.

The cast were selected perfectly and there is not a single actor in their role that does not just embody their character in every way. But let's talk about my life and saviour: Sankta Alina aka Alina Starkov. Alina is played by the real-life saint: Jessie Mei Li. When I say that I love this person. I mean I love her with all my heart. Jessie is honestly a huge inspiration to me. Not necessarily in the acting department, because no thank you but Jessie is one of the first actors that I have seen as a lead that looks like me-ish.

Obviously, Jessie and I do not look alike. But Jessie just so happens to be half Chinese like me. Unlike me, she can actually speak the language of one of her dual heritages.

Not only does Jessie resemble me and the life that we have experienced of not being "Asian enough" or not being "white enough", but her character faces the same challenges that a lot of mixed-race people do and boy do I not love it!

I genuinely cried when they actually acknowledged Alina's mixed-race appearance instead of just casting a mixed-race actor for a role and ignore the challenges that we face. The discrimination of Alina for being part Shu was fairly relatable.

Although I have never really had a majorly negative experience for being half-Chinese, I felt and understood her pain just as much.

I have personally only ever been seen as white rather than mixed-race and only people who know me, know that I am mixed race. Guess my genes mask my Asian-ness well. But since I already missed out on never growing up having my paternal family speaking to me in Cantonese, I lost out on that bilingual-ness people are so fortunate to experience.

So, when Alina is presented to the King and Queen and they assume she can speak Shu, I could totally relate.

The number of times people ask me to say something in Cantonese when they find out that I am half Chinese is innumerable. It actually makes me embarrassed to tell people that I am half Chinese because I feel like a fraud and I think that is something Alina deals with for a while in Shadow and Bone.

She doesn't see herself as this sun summoning Sankta that everyone is calling her.

So, Jessie Mei Li, this is basically my love letter to you.

But I do need to mention that the ENTIRE cast are truly perfect!

The show was constructed so carefully and mindfully.

Ben, thank you for bringing to life one of the most beautifully complicated villains.

Freddy, thank you for being the magic that is Kaz.

Amita, thank you for being the most bad ass woman around.

Danielle, thank you for being the sarcastic hun we all know and love.

Calahan, thank you for the bringing a great conflict to life.

Archie, thank you for being the most resilient person.

Kit, thank you for being the charismatic person we all wish we were.

Simon, thank you for being this lovable dad figure, who is annoying at times but loved dearly.

Daisy, thank you for being the most perfect Genya.

Julian, thank you for being the wholesome being we all wish to protect.

Luke, thank you for being the awkward bean.

You guys along with the rest of the incredible talent on the show are a gift and are perfect in every way.

I look forward to meeting Nikolai and Wylan in the future. Which, heads up: William Mosely for Nikolai and Daniel Sharman for Wylan, please and thank you ?

Thank you for telling a story where you tackle real world issues but with fantastical solutions and acceptance. A safe space for everyone. A true north.

Thank you for showing the world that no matter what, one should care because we are all still human at the end of the day, no matter our background, abilities, choices and ways of life.

Here's to changing the world!


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