SEATTLE TIMES – Failed accountant, stock-photo model, Marvel superhero. And now, actor Simu Liu can add one more line to his résumé: soup dumpling specialist. Last week, Liu joined Bellevue-based MìLà as its chief content officer.
You might know Liu better as Shang-Chi, from the 2021 Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” And, you might know MìLà better as Xiao Chi Jie, the direct-to-consumer soup dumpling company that has a storefront in Bellevue’s Soma Towers.
Last week, XCJ founders Caleb Wang and Jennifer Liao rebranded their company as MìLà (the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation for “honey” and “spicy”), and brought Liu to the C-suite.
“I joined MìLà’s executive team because I believe in their business model,” Liu told The Seattle Times in an email. “It all starts with the product — restaurant-quality soup dumplings that are shipped straight to your door in dry ice so they’ll always arrive perfectly frozen.”
Then MìLà, which closed a $22.5 million Series A venture capital funding round in February, dropped a third announcement: Its frozen soup dumplings will be sold in grocery stores starting mid-April. They’ll be at Metropolitan Market, Town & Country and QFC stores in the Pacific Northwest, and Costcos in the Bay Area.
The initial MìLà-Liu connection took place a year ago, with a friend-of-a-friend type of situation. Someone knew someone who knew the Chinese Canadian movie star and reached out: Would he be interested in sampling some pork xiao long bao (soup dumplings)? A package was sent to Liu’s place in Los Angeles, where Liu’s mom and dad were visiting.
Apparently, his parents ate all the soup dumplings and didn’t save him any, according to Liao and Wang.
“When [my parents] raved about the products, I knew I had to get involved somehow,” Liu said.
Liu made an initial angel investment before getting a single taste. Last August, the MìLà co-founders and Liu got together in person for the first time and hit it off.
Burning questions first. What’s Liu like in person?
“Super humble guy,” Wang said. “We ordered pizza, and he was serving us. It felt like we were friends.”
Liu was immediately interested in the business, and not just as a celebrity collaboration.
As the chief content officer, Liu will be working on creative and marketing aspects of the business: driving campaigns, leading strategy behind them, doing ad spots, deciding which stories to tell. Not necessarily day-to-day involvement, but being in regular meetings and texting all the time, Wang said. “We describe it as board-level commitment,” he added.
“I think he has a lot of ideas and the platform to be able to tell the story and work with people to tell the story,” Liao said. “It feels like a really good partnership.”