Where does a zany romantic comedy like Five Blind Dates—where a work-focused protagonist is forced to go on blind dates set up by her family after she’s told by a fortune teller that her love life and business success are intertwined—take root? As it turns out: in reality.
The first Prime Video movie to be shot in Australia, Five Blind Dates was created and written by China-born, Brisbane-raised actor and influencer Shuang Hu (The Family Law, Ronnie Chieng: International Student), and American-born, Filipino-Korean writer, actor and comedian Nathan Ramos-Park (As We Babble On, Club Mickey Mouse, Bone). The idea sparked after a conversation about Hu feeling unlucky in love and the pressure they both felt as Asians from their parents to get married.
Now based in Los Angeles, Shu—as she’s known to her many social media fans—agreed to a 15-minute blind date with us to share why this rom-com was a genuine labour of love.
Five Blind Dates premieres exclusively on Prime Video globally on 13 February.
How did you come to write Five Blind Dates?
“It was born out of a blind date with my writing partner Nathan… We had a mutual friend who brought us together. I told him that I love tea and I used to have a tea shop in Australia and how I’m very passionate about it—but also how I’m feeling very stressed because my family is pressuring me to get married.
"We were laughing about how funny it would be if they had to pick our dates for us… we were just merging all these ideas based on my life. It was a funny idea we thought would be quite interesting to make into a rom-com.”
Is your family really pressuring you to get married in real life?
“I do have parents who want me to get married and have kids. They definitely worry about me. I blame my parents [that I’m not married] because they were far too picky. I brought plenty of eligible bachelors home, and they were not happy with any of them! And now they’re worried… I’m like, ‘if you guys didn’t interfere with my love life, I’d be married with kids by now!’”
How much are you like Lia, the protagonist in Five Blind Dates—what’s your own dating history like?
“[Like Lia] I always chose my career over my relationships, so I can understand why they didn’t really work out. I think I’ve finally got to a point in my career where I’m happy with my work and I’m more willing to focus my energy on making a relationship work. And that’s what inspired me with the movie. There’s only 24 hours in a day… You have to pick one thing over the other and it’s really hard to make a relationship work when you prioritise your career.”
You have a degree in hotel management. What made you decide to become an actor?
“When I was on the end of my degree, I started taking acting classes and that was my creative outlet. I remember thinking: What am I doing with my life, getting paid peanuts to work 16-hour days, when I wanted to be the one checking into the hotel!”
How important is it to you as a writer and an actor to tell authentic Australian stories from diverse viewpoints and life experiences?
“I think the appetite for authentic and realistic storytelling is at its peak. To stand out now in all the content online, and on the streaming platforms—you have to be authentic, otherwise [people] turn away. I think relatability and to be able to see and understand and agree with the characters [is what] draws audiences in and makes them empathetic to your characters. And it keeps eyeballs on the screen.”
As a Chinese-born Australian, why do you feel it’s critical to celebrate your own culture on film?
“I feel like I’m in a position where I can tell stories, and I absolutely feel the responsibility to tell our story. We didn’t have any representation growing up, and I always felt like I was ugly. From a young age I always wished I was a white girl. There were always pretty white girls in class and I always felt like I was the ugly duckling. If I had grown up in China I perhaps wouldn’t have felt that because I would have seen beautiful Chinese girls in magazines and on TV. In Australia, I wished I had white skin and blonde hair.”
How do you feel about being the star of the first-ever Prime Video movie filmed in Australia?
“I feel very lucky and so grateful to have been given the opportunity. I pinch myself every day. It’s great to have an Asian woman lead in Amazon’s first original in Australia. And it’s great that it’s me!”
MORE ABOUT FIVE BLIND DATES
Synopsis: Twenty-something Lia is stuck. Faced with her failing traditional Chinese tea shop inherited from her beloved grandma, and the prospect of attending her older sister’s impending wedding single and alone, she is reluctantly gifted with a prophecy: the fate of her shop and her love life are intertwined, and the secret lies in one of her next five dates. Under pressure from her family, Lia agrees to be set up with five different suitors. With her best friend Mason by her side, will Lia find herself (and love), or risk disappointing those she loves the most—and losing the business she’s put her whole life into?
Cast and production: Five Blind Dates stars Shuang Hu, Yoson An, Jon Prosida, Desmond Chiam, Ilia Swindells, Tiffany Wong, Renee Lim, Rob Collins and Tzi Ma, and was produced by Amazon Studios and Goalpost Pictures Australia. It is the first feature film produced in Australia for Prime Video.
Where to watch: Five Blind Dates premieres exclusively on Prime Video globally on 13 February.