Wave Wire Services
HOLLYWOOD — Saying she was “overwhelmed by this extraordinary honor,” actress Ming-Na Wen saw a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame unveiled in her honor May 30 for a television career that included seven seasons each on “ER” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Wen’s castmates in the 1993 film “The Joy Luck Club,” Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom and Rosalind Chao, joined her for the ceremony at 6840 Hollywood Blvd., between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive.
“It has truly been joy and luck to be in your orbit,” Tomita said of Wen during introductory remarks.
The ceremony came one day before the end of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and two days before the release of the third and fourth episodes of “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” the animated prequel series to the “Gremlins” film franchise that streams on Max.
“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,” Wen said. “[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 went on to express her solidarity with striking members of the Writers Guild of America, who are now in the fifth week of a strike against Hollywood producers.
“I have to say a real quick word about words — they come from writers,” Wen said. “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 heavily 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?”
As the unveiling subsequently proved, it was not misspelled.
“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!”
In “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” Wen supplies the voice of Fong Wing, the mother of Sam Wing, the future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 “Gremlins” film.
The first two episodes premiered May 23.
Wen had a recurring role as medical student Jing-Mei Chen during the first season of “ER,” then returned to the NBC medical drama in its sixth season as a third-year resident. She left the series in its 11th season.
She was a cast member of the ABC superhero series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” — portraying ace pilot and weapons expert Melinda May for its entire 2013-20 run.
Wen made her television debut in 1985, making two appearances as a royal trumpeter in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”while she was attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the beloved children’s series was produced.
Wen became the first Asian-American actor to have a contract role on a daytime drama in 1988 when she was cast as Vietnamese teenager Lien Troung, who had come to America seeking to find her father, attorney Tom Hughes (Scott Holmes), on CBS’ “As the World Turns.”
Wen portrays elite mercenary and assassin Fennec Shand on the Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” and supplies her voice to the animated series “The Bad Batch.”
She also was a cast member of the 1995-97 NBC comedy “The Single Guy” and the 2009-11 Syfy military science fiction drama “Stargate Universe.”
Wen’s extensive credits in animation are topped by supplying the speaking voice of the title character in the 1998 animated musical adventure film “Mulan,” which she reprised in its direct-to-video sequel, “Mulan II,” the animated film “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the animated fantasy children’s television series “Sofia the First.”