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You may know of Gemma Chan for her undeniable beauty, leading role in Crazy Rich Asians, or as the newest spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris. With over one million followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say she has the power to make an impact. And that’s exactly what she aims to do. We sat down with Gemma herself to get an inside look on what it’s like to be the new face of L’Oréal Paris, as well as get her thoughts on pressing causes like women’s empowerment and climate change. Read on to be inspired by the Hollywood trailblazer.
Being the new face of L’Oréal Paris is a little surreal, according to Gemma. “I remember the first makeup that I borrowed from my mum was a red L’Oréal Paris lipstick—a classic! And the smell of her Elnett hairspray,” she says.
To Gemma, the brand stands for more than just beauty. “It is about uplifting and celebrating women, which I have always been passionate about,” she explains.
The iconic tagline—Because I’m Worth It—is one that she resonates with. She shares that the phrase is an expression of self-worth and permission to take care of yourself. “It’s an affirmation that if you are living your own truth, wherever you are on your journey, you are enough,” she notes. “Each of us—no matter our age, color, size, shape, anything—deserves to feel accepted, most importantly by ourselves.”
Gemma has been in the spotlight for some time now, but she wasn’t always on the road to Hollywood. Before acting, she started her career studying law at Oxford University. She turned down a job at a law firm to follow her true passion before fame was ever on the horizon. “I had always done a lot of music and drama growing up but it was not until later that I realized I could have a career in the arts,” she shares. Even though she ended up following her love for storytelling, she feels extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to get the education she did.
With her career change, Gemma has had remarkable success. One of the moments she’s most proud of brings her two worlds—as a daughter and as a star—together. “For me, the personal and professional came together when I took my parents with me to the London premiere of Crazy Rich Asians,” she says. “It meant so much to my family to see people that look like us on screen in a mainstream Hollywood film for the first time.”
Gemma grew up with parents who fostered a sense of worth and a strong work ethic, yet having confidence in herself isn’t something that’s always been there. “As I have gotten older I have learned to better trust my instincts, to be more assertive, and to stay true to myself. Ultimately, self-worth comes from within rather than from somewhere or someone else,” she explains.
Still, even the star herself has her moments of doubt. When she’s in need of a confidence boost, she makes it a point to make time for herself and spend time with people who value her as much as she values them. “I feel most empowered when lifting others and empowering them.” She feels beautiful laughing with loved ones—and wearing something treasured like a statement red lipstick.
Like many of us, Gemma has gained her fair share of beauty wisdom from her mother. “My mum told me to never go to bed with my makeup on—always cleanse, tone, and moisturize.” The actress was also advised not to over-pluck her eyebrows.
As far as her own beauty advice goes, she believes that your beauty routine should be viewed as time for yourself and a part of the day that you can look forward to. “It should leave feeling good and ready for whatever comes next.” She adds that your beauty routine is a chance to get creative and celebrate you. “Beauty products and makeup can be powerful tools of self-expression.”
Of course, Gemma has a few non-negotiables in her beauty routine, one of which is moisturizer with SPF. She also has her share of L’Oréal Paris favorites. “I love the Elvive Color Vibrancy hair range, particularly the mask, which is great to use on holiday as it has UV filters,” she shares. She adds that Elnett hairspray is an essential for red carpet updos. In her skin care routine, she uses our Revitalift Cleanser with Glycolic Acid. “It leaves my face really clean and soft.”
Gemma proudly considers herself a feminist. “To be a feminist is simply to believe everyone deserves to be treated equally and without discrimination,” she explains.
She’s surrounded by women who inspire and empower her. “My first inspirations were my grandmothers and my mother—all strong, courageous women,” Gemma says. As she’s gotten older, she continues to be inspired by women around the world. “Within the L’Oréal Paris family I have such admiration for Jane Fonda for her tireless activism, and also Viola Davis and Eva Longoria. And Céline Dion is a legend!”
While Gemma herself feels empowered by the women in her life, she believes there is still lots of work to be done to empower more women and the next generation in particular. She hopes that this next generation grows up with more empathy and more equal opportunities.
To empower women, she believes that education is vital. “An educated girl can lift her community and change the world. It is great that more women are now in positions of power and it is important to keep the door open and to continue to advocate for more women to be allowed equal opportunities and a seat at the table,” she explains.
Gemma is also a strong believer that street harassment and violence against women is not something that should be solely in the hands of women and young girls. “Empowering young women is very important but I also feel strongly that we need to better educate and raise our boys and young men,” she says. She believes it’s important to support L’Oréal Paris’ training program, Stand Up, to help open the public’s eyes to the scale of the problem, especially bystanders.
Women empowerment and equal rights aren’t the only causes that Gemma is passionate about advocating for. She believes that climate change is the biggest threat to our existence and that not enough is being done about it. “We need to listen to what scientists are saying. I admire Greta Thunberg and the younger generation who have been trying to get adults to pay attention and to act,” she notes.
Gemma believes that we all need to do our part—big or small. You can make a lifestyle change, educate yourself about the products and companies you’re supporting, and put pressure on governments to reduce carbon emissions. “lf the last year has taught us anything, it is that we are all connected and are most effective when we work together.”
On a lighter note, Gemma has a special place in her heart for Paris. She loves the effortlessness to French style and would describe the Parisian woman as chic, nonchalant, and elegant. “I shot a movie in Paris several years ago and had such an amazing time. It is such a vibrant, romantic city. I could sit in a café and people watch for hours,” she shares. If you’re wondering if she knows any French, she says, “Un petit peu!”
Next: L’Oréal Lifestyle: How Iskra Shook The Model Stereotype
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