It’s been over 20 years since actress Ming-Na Wen landed her breakout role as June Woo in “The Joy Luck Club,” portraying Chinese American daughter who struggled with the weight of her mother’s expectations.
Wen is currently starring in the hit show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” where she plays the weapons expert and pilot Melinda May. In a recent interview with China Central Television, the actress reflected on her own struggle to reconcile her Asian-American identity in the U.S.
“Growing up as an Asian American in this society there were a lot of times where you feel isolated or out of place as an Asian,” Wen recalled. “And growing up in White America that’s absolutely my experience. And I think that’s why I got into acting because I wanted to be anybody else but Asian.”
Motherhood is what finally led Wen, who was born in Macao and moved to the United States as a young child, to come to terms with her identity. “You start to realize how wonderful our culture is,” she said.
Wen also reflected on the most meaningful roles she’s taking in her career. “Definitely 'The Joy Luck Club,' June was a very special character and Mulan for sure,” referring to the 1997 DIsney film in which she voiced the main character. “But right now my favorite is Agent May.”
But there’s also a series she’s quite vocal about plugging herself for. “Star Wars is on my bucket list. Even if it’s just a small walk on, I don’t care.”