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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

PROFILE: Ming-Na Wen

It's Asian Pacific America Heritage Month and it made a lot of sense to profile one of the most prolific Asian American actors in the industry and who just happens to be a Disney Legend. I am, of course, talking about Ming-Na Wen.

Many people think she started her career with Disney in 1998 with Mulan, but it was actually five years earlier in the film The Joy Luck Club, an adaptation of Amy Tan's novel about a circle of Chinese American women and their mothers. The story touched on cultural differences and the generational gap. She played June Woo, who's mother died and she must go to China to give her long lost sisters the news. The Joy Luck Club was produced by Hollywood Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.

Then, in 1998, Wen went in to star in what is, perhaps, her most famous role in Mulan. She received an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer. Mulan was also honored with several Annie Awards from ASIFA-Hollywood, the International Animated Film Society. It is a role she would reprise several times, including in Kingdom Hearts II, Sofia the First, the Disney INFINITY series, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.

In 2013, she returned to Disney to star in one of her longest roles as Agent Melinda May in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. As Melinda May, she is known as "The Cavalry," who took down several men in the face of duty. She is tough as nails, but also has a soft spot. She fell in love with Phil Coulson and spent the last few days of his life (or maybe not) in Tahiti. The final season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins at the end of this month.

Finally, in 2019, Ming-Na made a guest appearance on The Mandalorian on Disney+. She played Fennec Shand, a mercenary who is being hunted for her murderous ways. She comes across The Mandalorian on the Dune Sea on Tatooine, but is left for dead by his "associate." Although, seemingly, it looks like a mysterious figure comes to rescue for her. Rumor is that she will return to The Mandalorian in season 2 this fall. I can only hope.

Aside from this, she has provided the voice for several animated characters. She voiced the character Dr. Hirano in Disney XD's popular Phineas and Ferb animated show. She also voices Savannah in Milo Murphy's Law on Disney+ and Vega in Sofia the First om Disney Junior. She voices Phyla-Vell in Guardians of the Galaxy and Hala the Accuser in Marvel Rising for Marvel Animation.

If there ever was an EGOT for Disney, Ming-Na Wen deserves one with her career having spanned Disney, Marvel and Star Wars.

In 2019, Ming-Na Wen was named a Disney Legend. "I used to pray to God, Buddha and the Force when I was a little girl, so this is astounding to me," Wen said at the ceremony. "The impact of Disney on my personal and professional life is a gift already so this Legends thing is insane."

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