"Crowds scare me.
I function much better on a more personal level.
I don't function very well on a dinner of more than ten.
I can't be myself."
Q: 15? A: Probably a little younger.
Q: Before you became an actress? A: Yeah, before. But that wasn't a kiss I understood. I didn't
really know what that was. I didn't have anybody until I was here. I didn't
even understand how to do anything, the kissing or other things. There was
no knowledge of it at all, it was zero. You have nothing to read, your parents
don't tell you.
Q: What was the real reason you left all that and came
here? A: Curiosity.
Q: Was it your decision or your parents' decision? A: Both.
Q: Your parents had first come to do research at Sloan
Kettering? A: Yeah.
Q: They must have been quite eminent. A: Yeah, very. I did somehow manage to get into a college in
China that trains diplomats when I was 17, one year before my peers could
go, which is very very difficult. I was very proud I did.
Q: And you were majoring in English? A: Yeah. I was extremely proud but I couldn't stay. Always
somehow they gave me a part and I left to play it, so my parents really
wanted me to get a serious education, so they said, "Come to America."
Q: Were the Chinese liberal enough to let you leave? A: No, that was very difficult. It was actually my first
education in real life. My fairy-tale life ended the moment I wanted to apply
for a passport.
Q: How did you work out the mechanics of that? A: I don't know. Cried and cried and cried a lot.
Q: To whom? A: Whomever I met. There hadn't been much of a struggle in
my life. Things had just happened to me, good things and bad things, and I
took them. The passport is something that didn't just happen to me and I
wanted it. It was the first time I realized that you could want something and
not have it. Also, there are people in the government and people told me you
have to give them gifts.
Q: So you had to bribe them? A: I don't think I did that very well. I didn't know how to
give a gift. I actually made people embarrassed. It's like a learning process
of how to do things and I did it all wrong and it took me more than six
months. I just went to all the ministries and cried to all the ministers and I
said I've worked since I was 14, and now I just wanted to get a good
education. I didn't want any money, I didn't want anything else. And
nobody sympathized with me, so I was crying. They just said, "We have
educated you and you have earned this position and this is your best age to
work and we don't want you to leave."
Q: If you had stayed, what do you think would have been
your position now? A: I don't know. Maybe I would have joined the party. I was
always so anxious to do the right thing, politically righteous, socially
acceptable. It wouldn't have been good. It wouldn't have suited my
personality because there is so much complication I didn't understand as a
Q: That indoctrination system works quite well. A: Very well, very well. Not any more. It's been so many
years that people have learned to think on their own.
Q: When did you brother come here? A: Probably three years later. He was in art school, then he
was teaching in the art department in a university.