Jessica Henwick is of Zambian and Chinese Singaporean heritage. In a 2020 interview with Hapa Magazine, Henwick talked in detail about her identity: “When I first visited Hawaii, I was called Hapa all the time. It’s nice to acknowledge mixed-race ancestry — it’s more than just DNA. It’s about your interests, your palate…being raised with a foot in two different cultures. The beauty of that, as well as the obstacles you face.”
As for her own childhood in England, Henwick shared, “I grew up in an area with no Asians. My brothers and I were the first non-white students at our school. It was rough, I won’t lie. But it built in me a mental armor that got me to where I am today. I find it interesting to look back at just how effectively I would compartmentalize. I think anyone who has grown up between two cultures can understand this. I would completely code switch, depending on where I was and who I was with.
I had two lives; the first where I went to a Roman Catholic school, ate mashed potatoes at lunch, and played Conkers with the kids in the playground, and the second where I would spend months with my Ma running up jungle trails in Ipoh, staining my hands purple with mangosteen and bathing out of a rainwater bucket.
When I would go to Singapore or Malaysia, our friends there would struggle to understand my British accent for the first few weeks. And when I returned to the UK, my school friends would laugh at me because my voice had changed, they said. I could not for the life of me hear it, but I’m sure they were right.”
Source: BuzzFeed – Celebrity