Rafu Wire Service and Staff Reports
Actress Ming-Na Wen was honored with the 2,757th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 30.
The star is located at 6840 Hollywood Blvd. adjacent to the El Capitan Theatre. Wen was awarded her star in the category of Television.
With Steve Nissen, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, serving as emcee, Wen was joined in the unveiling by three of her co-stars from “The Joy Luck Club,” Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom and Rosalind Chao.
The groundbreaking 1993 film had Asian American women in all the lead roles, including Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen and Lisa Lu. A sequel — introducing a new generation exploring their own relationships with culture, heritage, love, womanhood and identity — is in development.
The ceremony was held one day before the end of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“It’s a really special way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by ending it with something as tremendous as this,” Wen said.
The 59-year-old Wen thanked her “Joy Luck Club” co-stars, saying they’ve become a “sisterhood” that persists 30 years after the film’s debut.
She also thanked Amy Tan, author of the book on which the film was based. “‘The Joy Luck Club’ changed my life in so many ways. (Tan’s) words made me realize I wasn’t alone in my struggles growing up as an Asian woman in America. Her words … gave us a classic film that I am forever blessed to be a part of.”
Wen expressed solidarity with members of the Writers Guild of America, who are in the fifth week of a strike against Hollywood producers. “I have to say a real quick word about words — they come from writers. Without writers, there are no stories, and therefore, no Hollywood. Without writers, we wouldn’t be here, none of us would be here. Without writers, there would be no Walk of Fame. So I just want to give a quick shout-out to all our writers … I support you wholeheartedly.”
Wen’s speech before a crowd that included her mother, her husband and children, as well as 2022 Walk of Fame honoree James Hong, 94, touched on her journey from immigrant in America to stardom.
“I am overwhelmed by this extraordinary honor, an honor that never, ever occurred to me to dream of, let alone strive for,” she said. “Ming-Na Wen Day? I mean, do you know how crazy that is?
“I have to be honest, I have had such a love-hate relationship with my name. Living in America with a name like mine, trust me, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it sucked. It has been mispronounced, misspelled so many times. … It’s amazing how three simple syllables could trip up so many people.
“In fact, I actually worried about it being cemented wrong for today’s ceremony. It isn’t, right?” (It wasn’t.)
“I remember, there was a director who advised me to Anglicize it so that it would be easier to remember,” Wen added. “But I didn’t listen to him. I guess now that it’s Ming-Na Wen Day, I made the right move.
“Growing up, my Chinese name may not have fit or made me feel like I fit in white suburbia, in Hollywood even, or even in America. It made me feel like an outsider, a foreigner. But it also made me more determined to make it belong.
“You know, hell, if they could say Arnold Schwarzenegger, they can say Ming-Na Wen!”
“It has truly been joy and luck to be in your orbit,” Tomita said of Wen during introductory remarks.
Tomita said in a social media post, “What a wonderful way to cap off the month of May, or shall we say the month of Melinda May, celebrating … the original Mulan and Mandalorian’s mercenary, the Disney Legend, Ming-Na Wen! Who else wears the triple crown of Disney princess, Marvel hero, and Star Wars badass? She is a Ming Dynasty!
“Honoring the unveiling of the 2,757th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for our dear sister, just a few steps away from the El Capitan Theatre, my sisters Lauren Tom, Rosalind Chao and I stood alongside this incredibly fierce woman warrior who knows who she is and what she wants and fights for it, with true gratitude and true integrity, acknowledging those who came before her and lighting the way for those who will come after … and hopefully, all will be able to laugh out loud as much as we do!
“We love you, Ming-Na! To be with her on Ming-Na Wen Day was an honor of lifetimes … Of all her castmates across all her bodies of work, she chose to assemble the ‘The Joy Luck Club’ of Amy Tan’s classic American novel and film, alongside Janet Yang, our brilliant producer, Kieu Chinh, her movie mom, and her beautiful, supportive, loving family of (husband) Eric Michael Zee, (son) Cooper, her mother-in-law, and her mother, to whom she dedicated this day.”
“Ming-Na Wen has had quite an iconic career! As Mulan, she inspired women everywhere to embrace their inner warrior.” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “She has always been a supporter of and has always believed in lifting female artists, especially women of color, and we’re excited that we’re able to recognize her achievements on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
Wen has been an actress for a career that has spanned more than three decades. She spent her early years in Macau and Hong Kong with her mom and older brother. They came to America when she was about six years of age and lived in Queens, N.Y., where she learned English. Her love of acting took root when she performed in a third-grade play and made the audience laugh.
Wen made her television debut in 1985, making two appearances as a royal trumpeter in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” while attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the beloved children’s series was produced.
After graduating with high honors from the prestigious School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon in 1986, Wen pursued acting in New York City. Years of working with theatre groups like the Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwright’s Horizon, and the Ensemble Studio Theatre prepared her for the big stage, where she fulfilled her dream to be on Broadway in 1998 with David Henry Hwang’s “Golden Child,” which received a Tony nomination and won an Obie for Best Play.
During Wen’s years in NYC, she won the part of Lien Hughes on CBS’ “As the World Turns” in 1988, becoming the first contract role for an Asian American actor in a daytime drama. Wen was cast as a Vietnamese teenager who had come to America seeking to find her father, attorney Tom Hughes (Scott Holmes).
She would go on to pave the way for Asian Pacific Islander actors, winning roles that were not originally written for Asians. This included her seven-year run portraying Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen, working alongside talents like George Clooney and Linda Cardellini, in the Emmy Award-winning NBC series “ER.” She joined the series for Season 1 in 1995, then returned for Seasons 6 through 11 (2000-2004), appearing in a total of 118 episodes.
She also was a cast member of the 1995-97 NBC sitcom “The Single Guy” and the 2009-11 Syfy science fiction drama “Stargate Universe.”
In 2019, Wen was named a Disney Legend, one of the highest honors given by Disney, for giving life to such characters as Mulan (1998), Agent Melinda May in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (2013-2020) and June in the seminal feature “The Joy Luck Club.”
Mulan continues to inspire new generations of children and adults with her courage, heroism and integrity. Wen has since reprised the role in numerous projects, including “Kingdom Hearts II,” “Mulan 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which grossed over half a billion dollars.
Wen delighted her “Mulan” fans, who cheered when she made a surprise cameo in the 2020 live-action film as the Esteemed Guest.
Wen currently can be seen as Fennec Shand, who first appeared on the hit Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” created by Jon Favreau. As the mercenary assassin, Wen’s character has quickly become a fan-favorite among the “Star Wars” audience. She reprises the role and stars opposite Temuera Morrison in their own Disney+ series, “The Book of Boba Fett.” The two successful series have garnered a combined total of 43 Emmy nominations and 18 Emmy wins.
Up next, Wen is slated to shoot the lead of the film “Peachville” opposite Paul Giamatti and Simon Pegg. She also voices Fong Wing in HBO Max’s upcoming “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” a prequel to the 1984 film “Gremlins.” Her character is the mother of Sam Wing, the shopkeeper played by Keye Luke in the movie.
Wen enjoys volunteering her time and energy for charities and prefers donating anonymously to people in need.