The Chinese variety TV show Chase Me is where retired athletes and celebrities face off to determine who will be on top via grueling physical challenges.
However, the Chinese variety show faces a different challenge, after Godfrey Gao, a Taiwanese-Canadian actor who was a contestant on the show died while filming.
The Taiwanese media showed footage of crew members running frantically moments before the actor went down while running. Paramedics who were on-site tried to revive Gao while being rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival three hours later. It was reported that Gao had been filming for 17 hours straight before his collapse. JetStar Entertainment, Gao’s agency released a statement on Weibo confirming the actor’s tragic passing.
The news of Gao’s untimely passing while filming the variety show sent shockwaves in the Asian film community in Canada where various Asian-Canadian actors lamented the tragedy.
The Taiwanese-Canadian actor came back to Taiwan after growing up in Vancouver and graduating from university and became a model in her home country. Louis Vuitton made Gao the very first Asian model in their fashion campaign. Gao then transitioned into acting where he was able to find a good amount of success both internationally and in Taiwan where he was cast in big movies.
During an interview with CBC Radio Canada, Vancouver Asian Film Festival director Lynne Lee shared that many of the Asian-Canadian actors and actresses looked on to Gao as a huge inspiration and saw the actor as a role model. Simu Liu, another Asian-Canadian actor who is also on the rise went on to social media to share his heartbreak of Gao’s passing, thanking him for being one of the proponents of Asian actors to break the racial barriers in the film industry. Other Asian actors and actresses went on to Twitter and Instagram to show their sadness for the actor’s untimely passing.
Prominent members of the Asian film community like director-actor Xu Zheng went on to social media voicing out their worry about reality television in China and how they focus more on the entertainment value rather the safety of the people and contestants involved and the show must be held responsible for Gao’s tragic passing. Another Asian actress said that she dropped out of the show due to exhaustion.
Zhejiang Television, the company that produces the variety show that Gao participated in promises to improve their safety procedures for future contestants.
The show runners of Chase Me released a statement disclosing that Gao passed away due to cardiac arrest. The actor’s remains will be moved by his family to Taipei in the coming days.
Gao is widely known for being in films like Toy Story 3, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Legend of the Ancient Sword, and Shanghai Fortress.