Ming-Na was born to Cantonese parents on November 20, 1963, on the Coloane Island of Macau. This colonial outpost off the coast of China was under Portuguese administration at the time of Ming-Na's birth but was returned to Chinese control in 1999. Ming-Na's parents divorced when she was still a baby, and she and her mother moved to Hong Kong.
When she was four years old, Ming-Na, her mother and her stepfather moved from Hong Kong to New York City. After five years in New York, they moved again to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They opened a family restaurant called The Chinatown Inn, which remains a popular spot for Chinese food in Pittsburgh.
In 1988 she became the first Asian-American actress to land a contract role on a daytime soap. After appearing in films like The Joy Luck Club and voicing the Disney princess Mulan, Ming-Na starred in the primetime medical drama ER.
"I grew up in white suburbia, so I always felt a little bit uncomfortable in my own skin. I always felt I couldn't fully be me or fit in," she recalled. At one point she even experimented with changing her name to something more American. "When I was in junior high school I tried being Doris, because my mother loved Doris Day," she said. "Then I tried Maggie. But I came back to Ming-Na because it means enlightenment and illumination. Now I think it's cool to have a name that's very different. I take great pride in it."
After leaving college, Ming-Na moved back to New York City, where she almost immediately landed roles at theaters such as The Ensemble Studio Theater and Playwrights Horizons. Notable productions included Redwood Curtain, Speed the Plow and Luck, Pluck & Virtue.
After three years on the TV drama, in 1993 she delivered a highly praised performance as June in the film adaptation of Amy Tan's acclaimed novel The Joy Luck Club. Ming-Na then demonstrated her versatility as the fearless female lead Chun-Li in the 1994 action flick Street Fighter (based on the iconic Nintendo game of the same name) and then landed a recurring role on the sitcom The Single Guy (1995-97). In 1998, Ming-Na played the voice of the title character in the widely beloved Disney animated film Mulan. She won an Annie Award for Best Female Voiceover Performance and later played Mulan again in the 2004 sequel.
Ming-Na appeared on the popular medical drama ER in 1995 as a medical student named Deb Chen, but her character's story arc ended after only a few episodes.While performing on ER, Ming-Na also continued her career as a voiceover actress in the animated series Spawn (1998-99) and the animated film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001).
Since leaving the cast of ER in 2004, Ming-Na landed a series of leading roles in a diverse group of popular and acclaimed shows. She played Ellen Yin in the animated series The Batman (2004-2005), a federal agent in the drama series Vanished, and Judge Linda Harris in the comedy series Two and a Half Men (2007-2010). Ming-Na also played Camile Wray in the sci-fi drama Stargate Universe (2009-2011). In 2013, Ming-Na starred as Melinda May in Marvel's Agents of Shield. She was part of the main cast for 7 years.
She was cast as the Star Wars character Fennec Shand in The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the animated show Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
Ming-Na Wen will be at the biggest pop culture festival in the country on December 10 (Saturday) to meet her fans, talk about her career and reveal some details about her experience in the world of cinema and series.