Ming-Na Wen was born in Macau, China, and lived in Hong Kong. At age 6, her mother brought her and her older brother to the United States. They settled in New York City, where Ming-Na learned English. Ming-Na vividly remembers when the acting bug bit her. It was in third grade when she performed in her elementary school’s Easter play.
After graduating with high honors from Carnegie-Mellon University’s drama program, she returned to New York City to pursue an acting career, performing in numerous off-Broadway productions. Ming-Na was cast as Lien Hughes on As the World Turns and made daytime soap opera television history as the first Asian actor cast in a regular role.
She was thrilled to take part in a Disney film that took a piece of renowned folklore from China and featured a beautiful story about a young woman discovering who she is and what her strengths and beliefs are.
In 1993, Ming-Na made her big screen debut in the lead role of June in Disney’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Amy Tan’s popular novel The Joy Luck Club for Hollywood Pictures. On TV, her credits include series regulars as Dr. Deb Chen on ER and Trudy in The Single Guy and a recurring role in Two and a Half Men. In film, her roles include Mimi in Mike Figgis’ One Night Stand with fellow Disney Legend Robert Downey Jr., Chun-Li in Streetfighter, and many more. She even fulfilled her dream and performed on Broadway in the Tony®-nominated play Golden Child by David Henry Hwang.
One of Ming-Na’s most important roles came soon after she arrived in Hollywood, when she landed the title role in Disney’s animated classic Mulan, for which she received an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer. The film was also honored with several Annie Awards from ASIFA-Hollywood, the International Animated Film Society.
She was thrilled to take part in a Disney film that took a piece of renowned folklore from China and featured a beautiful story about a young woman discovering who she is and what her strengths and beliefs are. Ming-Na said, “That was my first voiceover job ever, and I knew nothing about the process. But I loved the challenge of bringing a character to life just using my voice and my imagination.”
In 2018, when Mulan celebrated its 20th anniversary, Ming-Na reflected on the film’s impact: “I am ecstatic to have played a character with such long-lasting influence. Mulan is a role model not just for little girls but little boys, too. And for adults! I love it when the moms bring their kids to meet me. They tell me what an impact Mulan has been in their lives, and now, in their kids’ lives as well. It’s the magic of Disney to be able to translate a Chinese story and make it relatable to everyone for all generations.”
Ming-Na has returned to the role of the heroic Fa Mulan in numerous projects, including an animated sequel, video games Kingdom Hearts II and Disney Infinity 3.0, on television’s House of Mouse and Sofia the First, and in the 2018 Walt Disney Animation Studios smash hit Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Her Disney television projects include voice work in Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb, Disney XD’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Milo Murphy’s Law, and the series of superhero digital shorts Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. She currently saves the world as Agent Melinda May, a.k.a. The Cavalry, on the ABC series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Ming-Na sees some of Mulan’s character traits in Agent May: “I think maybe Mulan is one of Agent May’s ancestors or something. They’re both definitely women warriors. I think what’s fantastic is that after two decades I’m still able to play these kick-butt characters, and it’s such an honor.”
A total Disneyphile, Ming-Na has loved sharing everything Disney with her husband, Eric Zee, and her children, Michaela and Cooper.