Ming-Na Wen

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Ming-Na Wen
Wen in 2023
Born (1963-11-20) November 20, 1963 (age 60)
Other namesMing-Na
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Occupation
  • Actress
Years active1985–present
Spouses
Kirk Aanes
(m. 1990; div. 1993)
Eric Michael Zee
(m. 1995)
Children2
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese溫明娜
Simplified Chinese温明娜
Websitewww.ming-na.com Edit this at Wikidata
Signature

Ming-Na Wen (Chinese: 溫明娜; born November 20, 1963)[1] is an American[2] actress. She is best known for playing Melinda May / The Cavalry in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–2020). Wen made her breakthrough in The Joy Luck Club (1993) as June Woo. She also voiced the eponymous character in the animated film Mulan, its sequel, and reprised the role as Mulan in the video game. Additionally, Wen made a cameo appearance in the live-action remake of Mulan (2020).

She is also known for playing Fennec Shand in The Mandalorian (2019–2020), Star Wars: The Bad Batch (2021), and The Book of Boba Fett (2021–2022) and for playing Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen in the medical drama series ER (1995–2004). Her other works include Kingdom Hearts II (2005), Sofia the First (2014), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018); the roles of Chun-Li in Street Fighter (1994), Detective Ellen Yin in The Batman (2004–2005); and Camile Wray in Stargate Universe (2009–2011). She was honored as a Disney Legend in 2019.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Ming-Na Wen's 1981 Mt. Lebanon High School yearbook photo

Wen was born on November 20, 1963, on Coloane, one of the two main islands of Macau.[1] Her mother Lin Chan Wen moved to Macau in the 1950s, from Suzhou, China, to escape communism.[3] Her father is of Malaysian Chinese descent.[4] She has an older brother Jonathan[5] and a younger brother Leong.

Wen's parents divorced when she was an infant, and she moved with her brother and mother to Hong Kong. Wen attended a Catholic school in Hong Kong. Her mother worked three jobs to provide for the family. Her mother remarried to Chinese American Soo Lim Yee, and when Wen was four years old, the family moved to New York City.[6] Her younger brother Leong was born there.

After five years, Wen's mother and stepfather relocated their family to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, where they bought and operated Chinatown Inn restaurant (established in 1943) which is still operating.[1] They resided in the suburb of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Wen attended Mount Lebanon High School.[7] She majored in theatre at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1986. [3]

Career[edit]

1985–1997: Breakthrough with The Joy Luck Club[edit]

Wen's first television role was as a royal trumpeter in the children's television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in 1985.[8] From 1988 to 1991, she played Lien Hughes, the daughter of Tom Hughes, on the soap opera As the World Turns.[citation needed]

After starring in the acclaimed film The Joy Luck Club (1993),[9] Wen landed the role of Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen on the NBC drama series ER.[1] It was a recurring role during the 1994–1995 season, but she returned in 1999 as a series regular, remaining on the show until midway through Season 11 in 2004. Wen also played Chun-Li in Street Fighter (1994)[9] and co-starred on the sitcom The Single Guy from 1995 to 1997.[1]

1998–2012: Mulan, established actress and other ventures[edit]

Wen in October 2006

Wen provided the voice for the title character in the 1998 animated film Mulan, its direct-to-video sequel, Mulan II, and the video game Kingdom Hearts II, subsequently winning an Annie Award. She voiced Aki Ross in the computer-animated film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,[10] and Detective Ellen Yin in the animated series The Batman.[10] She voiced a minor character Jade in the HBO animated series Spawn.[9]

In 2004, Wen won a Hollywood Home Game on the World Poker Tour.[11] In fall 2005, she starred on the NBC drama series Inconceivable as the lead character, Rachel Lu. However, the series was canceled after only two episodes. Her next TV role was an FBI agent in the Fox kidnap drama series Vanished, which premiered in the fall of 2006, but it was canceled. She also played a college professor in the comedy series George Lopez.

On October 8 through October 29, 2007, Wen (billed as Ming Wen) appeared in a four-episode arc of CBS's Two and a Half Men, playing Charlie Sheen's love interest, a judge closer to his own age.[12] In November 2008, she guest-starred on two ABC series: Private Practice and Boston Legal. From December 5–6, 2008, Wen starred in a benefit production of the musical Grease with "Stuttering John" Melendez at the Class Act Theatre.[13]

Wen was cast as a regular in the Stargate Universe television series from October 2009 to May 2011 as political attaché Camile Wray.[1] Wen appears in Disney Through the Decades, a documentary short about the history of The Walt Disney Company, hosting the 1990s section.

Wen appeared on the Syfy series Eureka as the inquisitive US Senator Michaela Wen,[14] beginning in season four in 2011 and serving as a major villain in the fifth and final season in 2012.[15]

2013–present: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Star Wars and other works[edit]

Wen at San Diego Comic Con in 2019

Wen starred as Agent Melinda May in the ABC superhero drama series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which premiered on September 24, 2013.[16]

In August 2014, Wen reprised her role as Mulan for the first time since Kingdom Hearts II in the Disney Channel series Sofia the First.[10] Wen's daughter has a recurring role on the show as Princess Jun.[17]

On December 7, 2017, Marvel Entertainment launched a new animation film franchise Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. Wen voiced Hala the Accuser, the main antagonist of the film, working with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-star Chloe Bennet.[18] That same year, she once again provided the voice of Mulan in Ralph Breaks the Internet.[10][19]

In 2019, it was announced that Wen would be a cast-member of the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian, playing Fennec Shand.[20] She reprised the role vocally in Star Wars: The Bad Batch,[21][22] and the live-action series The Book of Boba Fett.[20]

In 2022, Wen made an appearance on Young Sheldon as Dr. Lee, an experimental physicist responsible for mitigating conflict within a team of scientists.[23] She is set to recur on the second season of HBO Max's Hacks.[24]

Artistry and legacy[edit]

Wen honored as a Disney Legend at the Disney D23 Expo 2019

Wen's roles as Melinda May and Fennec Shand in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Book of Boba Fett respectively, have received critical acclaim.[25] In December 2021, she was included in the list of BBC's 100 Women of 2021.[26] Wen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2023.[27][28][29]

She is also well known for her work with Disney.[30] WDW Magazine writer Aaron Widmar called Wen an "incredibly talented Chinese actress, who has had a remarkable career that seems to only gain steam as it progresses—a rarity in Hollywood".[30] He went on to say that she has "broken through barriers for Asian performers".[30] In a 2014 article by a Chinese evening magazine based in Kunming, China, the Spring City Evening News wrote that "among the second-generation Chinese children who immigrated to the United States with their parents, Wen adhered to the excellent Chinese culture and etiquette."[31] She was named a Disney Legend at the 2019 D23 Expo for her outstanding contributions to the Disney company.[32][33]

Personal life[edit]

In 1990, Wen married American film writer Kirk Aanes. They divorced three years later. On June 16, 1995, Wen married Eric Michael Zee[1] and together they have a daughter and a son.[34] Wen's first pregnancy was written into the ER script, with her character placing the child for adoption. Wen's daughter followed her mother's footsteps in voice acting, and voices Princess Jun in the Disney Channel-animated series Sofia the First, credited as Michaela Zee.[17]

Wen is trilingual, fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.[6] She is a Buddhist.[35]

Filmography[edit]

Wen at the January 2009 premiere for Push

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1993 Blind Spot Mitsuko TV movie
Rain Without Thunder "Uudie" Prisoner
The Joy Luck Club Jian-Mei "June" Woo
1994 Vanishing Son II Mai TV movie
Vanishing Son IV Mai TV movie
Hong Kong 97 Katie Chun
Terminal Voyage Han
Street Fighter Chun-Li Zang
1997 One Night Stand Mimi Carlyle
1998 Tempting Fate Ellen Moretti TV movie
Mulan Mulan (voice)
12 Bucks Gorgeous
2000 Not Black or White Herself Short
2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Dr. Aki Ross (voice)
Aki's Dream Doctor Aki Ross (voice) Short
2002 A Ribbon of Dreams Mei-Ling (voice)
Teddy Bears' Picnic Katy Woo
2004 Mulan II Mulan (voice) Video
Perfection Woman Short
2008 Prom Night Dr. Elisha Crowe
2009 Push Emily Wu
2010 BoyBand Judy Roberts
2012 Super Cyclone Dr. Jenna Sparks Video
2014 April Rain Hillary
Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit Agent Mackenzie Cartwright (voice) Short[36][37]
2016 The Darkness Wendy Richards
2018 Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors Hala the Accuser (voice) TV movie
Ralph Breaks the Internet Mulan (voice)
2019 Swimming Lilian Short
2020 Mulan Esteemed Guest [38]
Pearl Headmistress
2023 Glitter & Doom Ivy [39]
2025 Karate Kid TBA Filming
TBA Persephone [40]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Royal Trumpeter #3 Episode: "1549 & 1550: Music"
1987 Another World Abby Episode: "Episode #1.5950"
1988–1991 As the World Turns Lien Hughes Regular cast
1994 All-American Girl Amy Episode: "Redesigning Women"
1995–1997 The Single Guy Trudy Sloan Main cast
1995–2004 ER Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen Recurring cast (season 1); main cast (seasons 6–11)
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Lani (voice) Episode: "Puss in Boots"
1998–1999 Todd McFarlane's Spawn Lisa Wu/Jade (voice) Recurring cast
2002 Hollywood Squares Herself/Panelist Episode: "April 29, 2002"
2003 The Bronx Bunny Show Herself Episode: "Episode #1.1"
House of Mouse Mulan (voice) Episode: "Salute to Sports"
2004 World Poker Tour Herself Episode: "Hollywood Home Game III"
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Princess Guan Qi "Peggy" Tsu (voice) Episode: "The Great Egg Heist/The Feud"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Li Mei Episode: "Debt"
2004–2005 The Batman Detective Ellen Yin (voice) Recurring cast (seasons 1–2)
2005 Inconceivable Rachel Lu Main cast
Robot Chicken Mary-Kate Olsen (voice) Episode: "Kiddie Pool"
2006 George Lopez Professor Tracy Lim Recurring cast (season 5)
Vanished Agent Lin Mei Main cast
2007 American Masters Narrator (voice) Episode: "Novel Reflections: The American Dream"
2007–2010 Two and a Half Men Judge Linda Harris Recurring cast (season 5); guest (season 7)
2008 Private Practice Kara Wei Episode: "Let It Go"
Boston Legal Ming Wang Shu Episode: "Roe"
2008–2014 Phineas and Ferb Dr. Hirano (voice) Recurring cast (seasons 1 & 4); guest (season 2)
2009 Ni Hao, Kai-Lan Gui Nai Nai (voice) Episode: "Kai-Lan's Trip to China"
2009–2011 Stargate Universe Camile Wray Main cast
2011–2012 Eureka U.S. Senator Michaela Wen Recurring cast (seasons 4–5)
2011 Celebrity Ghost Stories Herself Episode: "Keshia Knight Pulliam, Ming-Na, Chi McBride, Mia Tyler"
2012 Adventure Time Finn's Mom (voice) Guest (season 4); recurring cast (season 5)
2013 Nashville Calista Reeves Episode: "You Win Again"
2013–2020 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Melinda May Main cast
2014–2018 Sofia the First Mulan/Vega (voice) Guest (season 2); recurring cast: (season 4)
2015 Hollywood Game Night Herself/Celebrity Player Episode: "Cedric Gives Niecy a Hand"
2017 We Bare Bears Ranger Zhao (voice) Episode: "Ranger Games"
2017–2018 Milo Murphy's Law Savannah (voice) Recurring cast (season 1); guest (season 2)
2017–2019 Fresh Off the Boat Stephanie/Elaine Guest (season 3); recurring cast (season 5)
2018 Iron Chef America Herself/ICA Judge Episode: "Guarnaschelli vs. Williams"
Celebrity Family Feud Herself Episode: "Jeff Dunham vs Ming-Na Wen and Taye Diggs vs Caroline Rhea"
Guardians of the Galaxy Phyla-Vell (voice) Recurring cast (season 3)
America 2.0 Helen Chan Recurring cast
2018–2019 Hot Streets Soo Park (voice) Recurring cast (seasons 1–2)
2019 Marvel Rising Hala the Accuser (voice) Episode: "Heart of Iron"
Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart Tanya Keys (voice) Episode: "Meet Tanya Keys"
2019–2020 The Mandalorian Fennec Shand Guest (season 1); recurring cast (season 2)
2020 Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens Aunt Sandra Episode: "Vagarina"
50 States of Fright Susan Episode: "America's Largest Ball of Twine (Kansas) – Part 1-3"
2021 Yasuke Natsumaru (voice)[41] Main cast
Pretty Smart Jayden's Mom Episode: "OMG! Jayden's mom is back!"
2021–2022 The Book of Boba Fett Fennec Shand[42] Main cast
2021, 2024 Star Wars: The Bad Batch Fennec Shand (voice)[43] 3 episodes
2022 Young Sheldon Dr. Carol Lee[44] Episode: "A Free Scratcher and Feminine Wiles"
Hacks Janet Stone Episode: "Quid Pro Quo" & "The One, the Only"
2023–2024 Velma Carroll (voice) Recurring cast
2023 Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai Fong Wing (voice) Main cast[45]
Blue Eye Samurai Madame Kaji (voice)[46] Recurring cast

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit Major Mackenzie Cartwright Voice, short film
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Double Agent Herself "Infiltrating the Set"
2016 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Academy Herself Episodes: "Skydive Challenge", "Commencement"
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot Agent Melinda May 2 episodes
2020 50 States of Fright Susan Episode: "Ball of Twine"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
1995 Street Fighter: The Movie Chun-Li
1999 Disney's Story Studio: Mulan Mulan
2006 Kingdom Hearts II
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0
2016 Lego Marvel's Avengers Agent Melinda May
Disney Magic Kingdoms Mulan
2023 Disney Speedstorm

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1998 Annie Award Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting, Female Mulan Won
1999 Online Film & Television Association Award Best Family Actress Won
Best Voice-Over Performer Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series ER Nominated
2014 People's Choice Award Favorite Actress in a New TV Series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nominated
2015 TVLine's Performer of the Week Performance in "Melinda" Won
2016 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite TV Actress – Family Show[47] Nominated
2019 Disney Legend Film, Television, & Animation — Voice Herself Honoree
2021 1st Hollywood Critics Association TV Award Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Series, Drama[48] The Mandalorian Nominated
BBC's 100 Women Entertainment & Sport[26] Herself Honoree
2022 2nd Hollywood Critics Association TV Award Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Series, Drama[49] The Book of Boba Fett Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actress in a Streaming Presentation[50][51] Won
Hollywood Walk of Fame Television[52] Herself Honoree
2023 Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Award Alumni Achievement Awards[53] Honoree
Gold House Gold Generation Award[54] The Joy Luck Club Won[a]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Shared with the cast & executive producer

References[edit]

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External links[edit]