ASIAN AMERICAN PERSONALITIES
THE 130 MOST INSPIRING ASIAN AMERICANS
OF ALL TIME
PAGE 3 OF 3
few unpacked boxes lie strewn about the spacious home amid the personal
and cultural riches found in every corner. Pictures of her family line the
fireplace mantle, an incense holder rests near the CD rack and a serene
Buddha graces on top of a stereo speaker.
Wen recently moved to Los Angeles to escape the lack of film opportunities
on the East coast. With a major motion picture under her belt, Wen felt ready
for a change.
"Now I have what I call my green card," explains the up-and-coming actress,
who recently completed a small part in Rob Cohen's (Dragon: The Bruce Lee
Story) new mini-series Vanishing Sons. "My green card is The
Joy Luck Club, and I've been naturalized because I have my California
licence and a California address and a California bank account. Now I just need to be
sworn in and get my citizenship in LA. I think that takes a lot of the same
old pounding the pavement, going to meetings."
Wen lets out a trademark laugh which comes catapulting out of her petite
frame like a vocal warm-up, resonating from what could only be a
"My biggest long-term fear is regretting not doing the things I want in life
and not having the right priorities. I think that careers are great and I get
really turned on and passionate, but I also totally believe in family. I believe
in the yin and yang balancing the personal life with working, and you can
have it all. And you don't have to stab anyone in the back or take the wrong
road to get there."
Wen claims that her life has changed profoundly since filming The Joy Luck
Club. After living in enviorments where she was one of only a few
Asians, Wen has learned to let go of what was once shame and resentment over her
heratige. No longer confused by what seemed to be a duality of character,
Wen has finally found reconciliation between her American and Chinese
"What's great is that my American side is now balanced good-daughter-June
Chinese side. I'm very comfortable with all those roles. Now I feel I can
switch between these roles and feel totally comfortable with who I am."
Some where down a wood-floored hall a phone rings in the kitchen. Wen
excuses herself to talk to her mother, who wants to know the details about
their upcoming trip together to Paris. Wen will attend a press junket with
her Joy Luck Club screen mother, Kieu Chinh, at the Euopean film
festival. Wen chats easily on the phone, imbuing her conversation with
cooing and encouragement and laughter.
Hanging up, Wen pauses in admiration to speak about her mother, who has
quickly become a close friend whom Wen feels she can finally repay in some
small way through loving support and an opportunity to travel.
"She opened up a lot when she was in China. It triggered a lot of memories
for her, and it made her pour out all of her secrets. I mean, her life is just as
epic as any of the women portrayed in the film. She went through the
Cultural Revolution, her family was destroyed in many ways, both physically
and mentally. She suffered a lot and at the same time, she was able to bring
two young kids to America without speaking a word of English, and gave us
such a rich life." In awe, she adds, "That's something I could never have
"I think that in the back of my mind, I kept my name which is Chinese
because it was something that my mother gave to me and it has a lot of
meaning for her. It's very celestial. 'Ming' is like the Ming dynasty, it
compasses the sun and the moon. And 'Na' is about grace and peace."
Folding one hand into a fist and cupping her other hand towards the other,
Wen continues excitedy, "I just found out that in martial arts this is the sun
and moon, and when you put them together," Wen's voice trails off as she
cradles one hand in the other. She smiles slowly. "These are the
little things from China that hold so much meaning, built through 5,000 years
that make me so proud."
Rose-colored blinds allow the last bit of afternoon sunlight to filter through
the large front windows as the moon prepares to relieve the sun in the fading
sky. Wen needs to get ready for another night out on the town with a friend;
but in the moment, the ambitious and multi-faceted is content to sit,
peacefully embraced by what is slowly becoming a recognizable name.
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“My green card is The Joy Luck Club, and I've been naturalized because I have my California
licence and a California address and a California bank account.”
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