Chloe Bennet is becoming one of the biggest names among up-and-coming stars, but the 22-year-old said it was her name itself that led to the breakout.
The Chicago-born actress was actually born as Chloe Wang, with her father ethnically Chinese and her mother Caucasian. After years of trying to break into the acting world, Chloe adopted her father’s given name of Bennet as a family name and soon after caught her big break, a role on the television series Nashville.
“I was having trouble booking things with my last name. I think it was hard for people to cast me as an ethnic, as an Asian American woman,” says Bennet in an interview with the Toronto Star. “But I still wanted to keep my dad’s name, and I wanted to respect him, so I used his first name.”
Chloe Bennet is not the first actor to change their name in order to seem more mainstream, the report noted. Actor Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz, and actress Meg Tilley was born with a surname Chan, but changed it due to fears of racism.
But television today has changed, and shows like Grey’s Anatomy now feature diverse casts with both women and actors of color in featured roles.
Chloe Bennet said her newest gig, playing a Chinese-born character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is particularly groundbreaking. The show features fellow Asian actress Ming-Na Wen and is co-produced by Maurissa Tancharoen.
“It’s been great to be a part of a show which is groundbreaking in terms of being an American woman and being Asian on television because there’s people who don’t see a lot of that and I’m really proud of it,” says Bennet.
Chloe Bennet is more familiar with Asian culture than most. Her family lived in Shanghai for two years, and while there she embarked on a singing career, releasing a single in both Mandarin and English.
“I studied Mandarin everyday. I really never spoke it before I went over there and I kind of became relatively fluent and I’ve actually lost pretty much all of it since then,” she says. “But it was an incredible experience.”
Chloe Bennet appears to have a bright future ahead of her. After a slow start this year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picked up steam and last week got a renewal order for a second season.