Five Blind Dates star Shuang Hu

Photo: Supplied/Prime Video

'Five Blind Dates' star Shuang Hu on what it took to land her big break

The Aussie actor talks Asian representation, pursuing an international career, and navigating love as a woman of colour.

From Melissa Leong becoming MasterChef’s first female judge, to Chris Pang and Remy Hii starring in Crazy Rich Asians, we’re seeing a rise in Asian Australian representation in film and television. Now Shuang Hu’s new film, Five Blind Dates, is a refreshing addition to our on-screen landscape, particularly as far as local streaming projects are concerned. 

With the actor's rom-com being the first feature film produced in Australia for Prime Video, it's monumental to see it starring an Asian Australian female lead. With such representation well overdue, Hu says it’s important to celebrate the win, but also acknowledge what it’s taken to finally get to this point. 

Born in China before moving to Queensland as a child with her family, Hu recalls growing up seeing “one person on Neighbours” who looked like herself, as well as some Asian contestants on cooking shows. Her public acting career began with stints on The Family Law from 2016 to 2019, as well as Ronny Chieng: International Student from 2016 to 2017. But a lack of Asian representation at the time meant there were fewer opportunities to score big roles. 

“It took me seven years to land The Family Law, and then auditions after that were far and few between,” Hu tells Missing Perspectives. “Ronny Chieng: International Student and The Family Law were the only two shows on TV that had a mainly Asian cast.”

Tzi Ma and Shuang Hu in Five Blind Dates

Tzi Ma and Shuang Hu in Five Blind Dates. Photo: SuppliedPrime Video

Noticing Australia’s “high risk industry” was trying to play it safe, with producers constantly casting the same actors they already knew, Hu moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of more opportunities. 

“Moving overseas was the right thing to do,” says Hu, explaining it also helped develop her immense social media presence – she has 4.5 million TikTok followers which many other Aussie actors can’t similarly boast about.

“There are a lot of classes in LA that you can take, and with my social media career as well… I definitely would not have been able to have that if I was in Australia, because I have to use actors and have to film all the time. I need cinematographers, and the pool of talent is just a lot broader here in LA,” she explains. 

“So, it's just a lot easier to get things made and people are willing to give you a chance here in LA, whereas I don't see that so much in Australia.” 

But the tide shifted when Hu, along with friend and co-creator Nathan Ramos-Park, pitched the story of Five Blind Dates to Amazon Studios. The entertaining rom-com centres on Hu’s character Lia, who is forced to go on five blind dates set up by her family and best friend after being told by a fortune teller that her love life and the success of her Chinese tea shop are interconnected. Hu believes her international career move helped her get this movie over the line.

“I say kudos to Amazon because they actually gave us a chance, because I know if I stayed in Australia, I would not have made this movie,” she says. “There is no way in all hell this movie would have been made – like I don't even know what route I would have taken to get it made.” 

Rob Collins and Shuang Hu in Five Blind Dates

Rob Collins and Shuang Hu in Five Blind Dates. Photo: Supplied/Prime Vid

Circling back to the plot and the film itself, there are significant cultural references beautifully peppered throughout the script and on the screen. Lia’s traditional Chinese tea shop, which she inherited from her late grandmother. Her family naturally slipping into Mandarin dialogue mid-conversation, without it coming across as tokenistic. And of course, the idea of facing immense pressure as a child of Asian immigrants to pursue a professional and personal love life that’s somewhat dictated by your parents who genuinely believe they know what’s best for you. 

With Five Blind Dates somewhat inspired by her real-life experiences, Hu shares that moving to LA was not necessarily aligned with her parents’ vision for her.

“Moving away from your family without having their support is scary, but at the same time, you can’t really do it if they’re there nagging you and telling you not to do it.” 

She also recalls previous romantic partners being rejected by her parents. “Asian parents… they think they know the best for you. They choose people that they think are good for you, but that may not necessarily be good for you,” she laughs. 

“So we really wanted to play around with that idea that our parents and our family may not know us as much as they think they do.” 

Essentially a love letter to the immigrant experience, navigating family and career, and of course figuring out the complicated world that is contemporary dating, Five Blind Dates is not only a refreshing rom-com just in time for Valentine’s Day, but hopefully just the start of us seeing more of Shuang Hu on our screens.

Five Blind Dates premieres on Prime Video on February 13.