Ming-Na Wen had a nagging worry ahead of her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony on Tuesday.
What if they misspell my name on my star?
“Living in America with a name like mine, trust me, it wasn’t easy, it actually sucks,” the film and TV actor said before his star was revealed. “It’s been mispronounced and misspelled so many times.
“Mee-nay; Mee-now; Ms. Nah-wen,” she said, reciting the various ways other Americans groped her name. A director told him to anglicize his name to make it easier to remember, but the ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel star rejected his suggestion.
“I guess now that it’s ‘Ming-Na Wen Day,’ I made the right choice,” she said in reference to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and City Council resolution. Los Angeles which grants honored stars their own day. Wen wiped tears from his eyes as the crowd cheered.
“If they can say ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’, they can say ‘Ming-Na Wen’,” she then joked.
When her star was revealed, Wen looked at her, placing her hand on the coral pink terrazzo surface with “Ming-Na Wen” etched in brass, taking a moment to herself and initially ignoring calls from the press. to search for pictures. . She became one of the few Asian artists – Anna May Wong, Mako, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and James Hong – to have their stars on the Walk of Fame.
His star bears the symbol of television, largely thanks to his work in the soap opera “As the World Turns”. She was the first Asian-American actress to sign a contract role in a daytime drama, portraying Lien Hughes for four seasons, beginning in 1988, according to Steve Nissen, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. , who spoke at the ceremony. She also played Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen on the first season of “ER,” alongside George Clooney, and would go on to appear in seven seasons. For children of the 1990s, Wen is the voice of the main character in Disney’s animated film “Mulan”. And more recent audiences know Wen for his work on Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD” and “Star Wars” shows “The Mandalorian,” “The Bad Batch,” and “The Book of Boba Fett.”
Even so, it was her work on the big screen that led to her breakthrough in Hollywood. She was one of the stars of the groundbreaking 1993 film “The Joy Luck Club,” based on Amy Tan’s novel of the same name. It was the first major studio film with an all-Asian American, mostly female cast.
Wen’s co-stars from the film, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom and Rosalind Chao, attended Tuesday’s ceremony. In “Joy Luck Club,” the four play second-generation Chinese-American immigrants navigating life in white America alongside their mothers. And while they were on stage giving their own speeches, the four actors seemed very much part of a tight-knit group as they huddled together, laughing, joking and crying.
“We came together at a time when there were very few Asian American actresses, so the presumption was that we were all rivals,” Tomita said during her speech. “But the truth is, we all knew we could only do our best, and we all win, we all lose – it was never about competition.”
Tomita, who auditioned for the same “As the World Turns” role as Wen, recalled that they had seen each other at the auditions and were “so excited to see each other – to catch up, gossip and laughing”.
“We laughed so hard sometimes that we would get choked up very often –,” Tomita added, with Wen chiming in with a laughing mic, “Like today!”
“By choosing assistants, by our moms on set, by our real moms, by flight attendants on planes traveling across the country, and by each other on stage,” Tomita continued, pointing to Wen, Tom and Chao.
Wen began his speech by turning to his co-stars and telling them that they and other Asian artists all deserve their own stars on the Walk of Fame.
“We just need to pave this Hollywood Boulevard with more Asian talent,” Wen said, waving his arm as if to brush the sidewalk with his hand.
Later, Wen recognized prominent Asian Americans in Hollywood who attended the ceremony, including Janet Yang, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which produced “Joy Luck Club.” She also paid tribute to 94-year-old James Hong, who in May 2022 received his own star on the Walk of Fame after a fan-funded campaign, becoming the oldest star inducted.
Wen acknowledged Hong’s work in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which broke other barriers with its cast of Asian leads, nearly winning top honors last awards season, including best picture at the Oscars 2023.
Hong and Wen, both Chinese Americans, were part of a Walk of Fame class that includes two other Asian American and Pacific Islander artists. Actor Jason Momoa is of Hawaiian descent and musical artist Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas is of Filipino descent.
Towards the end of his speech, Wen thanked his mother, Lin Chan Wen, who was seated in the front row, for immigrating from Hong Kong when Wen was a young child. She then dedicated the star to her mother.
“I want to thank you for my name, because it may not be English, but it’s American,” Wen said, drawing yeses and applause. “And I hope my star helps any American out there, or anybody else, that they don’t have to be a ‘Tom’ or a ‘John’ or a ‘ Mary “to feel American – they belong.”
Wen admitted that she felt she didn’t deserve the Walk of Fame honor and pledged to “work even harder to earn that star.” She pointed out that she had never been nominated for any major awards in a career that spanned four decades.
“I endured countless rejections, I faced sexism, racism, so many ‘isms,'” Wen said. “And I’m ready to face those struggles because when the jobs come, when the few yeses come, they cancel out all the noes, and the fun begins again.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.