Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan missed out on roles early in her career because she was told she didn't sound ethnic enough.

The actress gave up a career in law to focus on her acting dream, but admits racial stereotypes got in the way when she was starting out.

"A lot of the parts that I would be asked to audition for would be specifically ethnic parts," she tells Glamour, "but I was told things like, 'We really liked you, we liked your read, but can you do more of an accent, you sound too English!'

"There were preconceived ideas of what someone like me should sound like. That’s why it's so important for a film (like) Crazy Rich Asians to come out and challenge and subvert people's ideas of what Asian people are like or perhaps what women are capable of. I think we need to challenge prejudice as a whole, to be honest."

Gemma adds, "We all have skin at the end of the day (and) it is imperative that all of us stand up for each other because prejudice against one group will bleed into prejudice against other groups."

And, after dealing with prejudice as a young actress, Chan is now preparing for new problems as she gets older.

"We need to change things, especially in the beauty industry," she explains. "The ageing process is going to happen to all of us. How are we going to deal with it? I think anti-ageing is a prehistoric term."

But despite all the issues of being an Asian woman in Hollywood, the British actress, who first rose to prominence as geologist Mia Bennett in Doctor Who 10 years ago, is glad she gave up her law career.

"I knew I’d probably be a miserable lawyer," she told InStyle magazine. "It is a privilege to be able to take a chance, but if you can, it is better to try and fail. Disappointment is temporary, but regret lasts forever."