Australian actor and heartthrob, Desmond Chiam, can be seen on Marvel’s “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” Having always been a huge fan of the superhero world, when he got the call he booked this role, he could not contain his joy. A man of many talents, Desmond is truly a bright light that fills any room he walks into. Having also spoken on a few topics from Family to Gender Equality, and more, as he opens his heart and mind to us. Also very in style, he is the whole package: looks, talent, brains, and heart! Make sure to keep an eye out as Desmond has a few projects on the horizon…
Like any relationship, you have to work on it. I just realized this recently because I had been super lazy, that I was letting some really important people slip out of my life on my own inaction. And the crazy thing is – once I reached back out, we jumped right back into our usual groove. It can be intimidating sometimes, to reach out, particularly when y’all have been super close but might not feel it anymore. But it’s worth it most times.
You don’t pick ‘em. I got lucky – my family is great, and they have my back forever. They’ll carry me if I’m messed up. Some people don’t get so lucky, but that’s where this answer overlaps with friendship – you don’t pick them, but you can find them.
On SEXUAL FLUIDITY
There’s a spotlight on Asian American masculinity right now, with how we’ve historically been emasculated. I think our initial response was to sort of push this hypermasculine, authoritative, strong, ripped counter-image out there but I think we need to be aware that it’s our responsibility to weave the toxic out, and realize gender/sexual identity can’t operate on that binary. It can’t operate on any binary. The term binary shouldn’t even come near the fight. By definition, it only allows for two positions – it’s exclusionary, and I don’t want that for anyone. Everyone should feel accepted for being who they are.
Easy to hold onto in all the wrong things, hard to hold onto in all the right things.
On GENDER EQUALITY
We should be equals, and we aren’t. For all, everyone along the spectrum…you are you, you are whole to me, I accept you and we are equals. Society should function the same.
On RACIAL FLUIDITY
Tough questions, huh? In some ways, the term is too narrow, and in others, it doesn’t constrict enough. Look – if you’re, I don’t know, an Aussie dude who’s never felt at home in Australia, and you happen upon Cambodian culture, and you just adopt it with no context, education, or referred wisdom about what South East Asia is about and has been through in recent history, then no. You’re not Asian, and to claim so is disingenuous and harmful to a generally disenfranchised people. On the other hand, there are third culture kids growing up in China right now, who know more Mandarin than me, who are more in tune with Chinese culture than me, who are on Weibo, and I have no right to tell them they aren’t Chinese. Not ethnically, sure – but at the end of the day it’s not anyone’s place to tell them they don’t belong.
On SOCIAL MEDIA
Not a fan. It feels like every caption I write is a cry for help, ha ha!
That’s a personal stance. I know plenty of people for whom it’s done nothing but enable great things. I think it really just isn’t for me. But then again, see my answer on technology.
On CLIMATE CHANGE
It’s real, it’s coming, but it’s not inevitable as long as we do something about it. And I don’t mean we as individuals – if you look at the balance of statistics, personal actions aren’t enough to offset these massive infractions incurred by global players, conglomerates, and companies. We need to shift policy because nothing else is going to do the job.
On IMPORTANCE OF POLITICS
See above – that’s politics. We have to play it to win it, because if we don’t, the wrong people will keep bullying our future away from us.
It’s literally the way of the future. Technology is going to do what technology does, and since it sets the pace of progress, you either get on board or get out of the way.
On IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL STYLE
It’s so important – I mean, for me, exploring my own personal style was pretty well tied into the journey of exploring my personal identity. I don’t think there’s a version of personal honesty about your identity that doesn’t include an evaluation of your own personal style. In a way I guess it’s a jumping off point for introspection – a tutorial for self-contemplation, if you will.
On CULTURAL DIVERSITY
The opposite of a zero-sum game. The more of this there is, the more everyone just straight up wins. If only for the food alone.
What drew you to auditioning for a role on “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”? Share with us how the audition went.
There wasn’t much more behind it than, “hey, this is Marvel project, go out for it.” I was already enthusiastic from that point. But once I found out that it was taking place in Captain America’s corner of the MCU, I was pretty much locked in.
The audition – it was truly lovely. Jason Stamey and Sarah Finn run a very open room, and they give you all the space and tools for you to do your best job. There’s no cynicism there, and it really lets everyone shine – and it shows in their results. Sometimes talent is fragile, and to exhume it needs an archaeologist’s touch. Do it wrong, and you shatter it.
Who was the first person you called when you booked the role? What were you most looking forward to about filming this?
I didn’t so much call as much as immediately gush to my wife, who was next to me in the gym. She had no idea I’d been out for anything Marvel related, because I am terrible at communication. But once I got off the phone with them, I turned to her and just managed the words, “Marvel called,” before I collapsed in an excited heap. The gym bros nearby were pretty perturbed by my breakdown.
Honestly – I was looking forward to seeing the scale of this, and how they managed it. I’m here to learn – there’s a lot to this industry that’s difficult, but there’s a lot that’s easy to pick up if you watch the right people. I like to learn as much as I can on any set I go on – this one was no different. Massive education opportunity.
That, and being around Cap’s shield. I was super looking forward to that too.
Tell us more about what prompted you to get into acting. Did you always want to pursue such a career?
No, I came to this late. Like, mid-twenties late. I was a lawyer (for only three months, mind) before and the whole idea of acting hadn’t even entered my uncreative little brain. I had some mates who were in the acting world, though, and after I quit my previous career and was kind of adrift in Australia, they slowly steered me towards it.
In what ways have you grown as an actor going from Australian TV to American one? Can you tell us more about the differences and how working on these different international sets have helped you become a better actor?
I’m not too sure, because frankly, I never worked in Australia all that much. There was even less space on TV for diversity there than in America, so most of my POC mates saw the writing on the wall and we left pretty early on. It’s way better now, but back then, we saw the wave cresting for Asian Americans and knew we had to leave.
I will say, the few sets I did work on in Australia, as well as after coming to America (“Reef Break” filmed in Queensland) – the American side could learn a lot from the Aussies’ lack of hierarchy on set. It’s there, but it’s a lot less codified and breeds less ego.
When you are not working, what do you like to do? Any hobbies no one really knows about?
I’m pretty open with what I love. I’m a gamer, I’m a Bboy, and I love to cook. A more recent one people might not know about is blacksmithing and metalworking – I started that just before the pandemic hit and didn’t set foot in a forge during, but I’m looking forward to picking up the hammer again after we’re all vaccinated.
Share with us the day you were drawn to Marvel. Who was your favorite superhero growing up?
Captain America, hands down. I have an extremely lengthy breakdown of why, on my Instagram or Twitter, but the short of it is – Steve Rogers has always been what I needed him to be at any given point of challenge in my life. Early on, when there was a lot of pressure to succeed, I could look to him as a “peak human” to follow in the footsteps of. Later when a close friend of mine passed away, I could trace his arc from losing Bucky to Avenger as a coping mechanism. In the cynical later years of adulthood, when met with failure and body blows, I knew if Cap could do it all day, so could I. It’s a force I describe as totemic.
What do you hope to accomplish as an actor? As an individual?
Make a kinder world, all over. I’m coming for the bullies, and I’m coming to rip them out at the root. I’m very aggressive about being nice.
On a more selfish note, I do want to leave a legacy. Something good to be remembered by – I do think we live as long as the stories we are part of, are passed down. I don’t want kids, nor does the wife – so being part of some sort of collective historical zeitgeist would be incredible.
What comes next?
I have a couple of projects in the mix that I can’t talk about yet. Nerdy-ass me wishes I could, but I also like not having lawsuits brought against me, so…
Keep an eye out!
Talent DESMOND CHIAM @deschiam
Photographer HIGGSY @higgsy_photography
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandsteph
Styling BENJAMIN HOLTROP @benjaminholtrop
Grooming DIANE DUSTING @didusting using R+ Co Bleu and Naz
Interview by ALEXANDRA BONNET @alexbonnetwrites
Production @BELLOmediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la x @alexbonnetwrites