Gemma Chan knows what it takes to be a hero. And not just onscreen: In addition to her starring roles in two Marvel films, Captain Marvel and November’s Eternals, Chan uses her platform to be an advocate for causes near and dear to her, like stopping AAPI hate and promoting vaccine equity. So when it came time for the 2021 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth special (Chan is a global ambassador for the brand), of course, Chan would play a key role.
In the documentary-style special, airing on December 16 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, Chan sits down with two of this year’s 10 honorees, all nonprofit leaders making inspiring changes in their communities. “I was fortunate enough to go to Paris and to get to meet this year’s honorees, who are amazing women, all working to uplift their own communities,” Chan tells BAZAAR.com. “I met Michelle Tran, who founded Soar over Hate in response to the rise in anti-Asian and xenophobic attacks, and also Briana Daniel, who founded Street Team Movement in response to the homelessness that she saw in Orlando. They’re incredible, inspiring women who are doing things at a grassroots level.”
In advance of the special, BAZAAR.com sits down with Chan to hear more about these amazing women—plus, she talks her showstopping looks from the Eternals press tour and a few beauty faves too.
On the 2021 Women of Worth …
During a time when simply keeping up with the news can be a burden, Chan says it meant “so much” to meet with these women actively working to make a difference. “I think it’s really easy, with the sort of daily bad news that we see at the moment, it can be easy to feel hopeless and to feel despair,” Chan says. “But it’s when you look around and you see people who are doing things big or small to try and help, that’s what gives me hope.”
The work Tran, Daniel, and the other eight honorees are doing is as hopeful as it gets. “Briana, it’s really interesting, she actually befriended a homeless man, and that inspired her to leave her home and to live voluntarily on the street for 32 days, which I think is just extraordinary,” Chan explains. “She spoke so passionately and eloquently about the dignity in the simple things like being able to clean oneself and being able to wash your clothes.” Because of her experience, Daniel had Street Team Movement focus on a laundry service, which hadn’t been previously available. “It seems something that is so simple and obvious, but it’s so intrinsically tied with our dignity and self-worth as human beings,” Chan says.
On Her Inspirations …
In addition to this year’s honorees, Chan says she’s looking ahead to the next generation. “Aside from each of the Women of Worth honorees, I would say I’m inspired by the kids who are on strike for the climate, who are trying to get adults to listen to this very pressing issue that is going to affect all of us and is going to disproportionately affect poorer countries,” Chan says, adding, “I’m inspired by them, and I think we should listen. Our leadership should listen.”
On Returning to the Red Carpet …
Like all of us, Chan has lived a more dressed-down life since the pandemic, so when it came time to promote her new film, Eternals, she was more than ready to get glam again. “Gosh, it was fun to get dressed up again,” she says. “I’ve been in elasticated waists, sweatpants for a good part of two years.” But rather than play it safe, Chan says she felt like now is the time to go big with her looks. “Why not just go for it? We’re back. Fashion is back.”
Related article: Gemma Chan’s Best Red Carpet Moments
One particular favorite look was the one she wore to the Rome premiere of the film. “It was by a Korean designer called Sohee Park, who is an emerging designer,” Chan says. And no detail was spared. “She used recycled Swarovski crystals to make the headpiece,” Chan explains, saying that “I felt so special to get to wear it.”
On Her Beauty Must-Haves …
As Chan has gotten back into the groove of constant travel, one skincare product has proven to be a favorite. “There is a new L’Oréal Paris hyaluronic acid and caffeine eye serum, which is fantastic,” she says. “When I’m tired, I get puffiness around my eyes, so that is a very useful product that I’ve found recently. [It’s] great for waking your eyes up.”
And seeing as it is the holiday season, Chan also shares a couple gift recommendations. First up: The L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Reds of Worth lipstick range, which are packed with argan oil and vitamin E to nourish lips, and have a gorgeous satin finish. She also recommends the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which she calls “a great day-to-day product that moisturizes and plumps the skin before you put on makeup.”
The 2021 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth special airs on December 16 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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