Breaking Barriers and Making History
Despite the advancement of representation and inclusion in recent years, a great deal of progress remains to be made. This rings especially true for Chinese actresses attempting to make it big in Hollywood, who often face obstacles their white co-stars do not experience. While strides have been taken within the film industry regarding diversity, we must continue pushing forward toward more equitable opportunities for all actors involved.
Explore the remarkable accomplishments of Chinese actresses in Hollywood by delving deeper into their history and celebrating successful actors who have achieved stardom in the industry.
20 Successful Chinese Actress in Hollywood
From comedies to dramas, a few Chinese actresses have made an enormous impact in Hollywood. Below are some of the most well-recognized names in entertainment:
Chinese actress and model Zhang Ziyi is an internationally renowned star whose career skyrocketed with her remarkable portrayal in Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Critics widely celebrated this box office smash. The Beijing native was born on February 9th, 1979, and has since demonstrated her talent with other noteworthy performances both inside China and abroad.
Her remarkable acting has earned her many accolades, including Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards and Cannes Film Festival. In addition to these successes, she has starred in a variety of spectacular films such as “Hero” (2002), “House of Flying Daggers” (2004), and “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005).
Zhang Ziyi has also become an iconic presence in the fashion and beauty world. She serves as a model and brand ambassador for multiple renowned global labels.
The Chinese-American actress, singer, and model Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, has garnered international fame for her artistry in American and Chinese films. Born on August 25th, 1987, in Wuhan, China, she has quickly become a celebrated star of the stage and screen.
Liu Yifei, who initially made her name in China through her childhood acting roles, rose to fame with the hit television series “The Story of a Noble Family” (2003). She continued to excel on screen and wowed audiences everywhere with roles in films such as “The Forbidden Kingdom” (2008) and “White Vengeance” (2011).
In 2017, Liu Yifei was chosen to star in Disney’s live-action version of “Mulan” (2020), which premiered successfully both in the United States and China.
Born in Qingdao, China, on September 16th, 1981, Fan Bingbing is a highly acclaimed and widely esteemed Chinese actress, model, and television producer. This celebrated starlet has not just achieved celebrity status with her talent – she’s also the highest-paid actor in all of China.
Famed actress Fan Bingbing has been featured in multiple Chinese and international films, such as “Lost in Beijing” (2007), “Buddha Mountain” (2010), “Double Xposure” (2012), and the hugely successful blockbuster movie, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014). Her award-winning performance as the lead role in 2017’s movie “I Am Not Madame Bovary” earned her Best Actress at San Sebastian International Film Festival.
Fan Bingbing is an iconic figure in the world of Chinese fashion. She collaborates with some of the most prestigious names in international beauty and fashion, such as L’Oreal, Guerlain, and Louis Vuitton – all brands for which she serves as an ambassador.
Celebrated worldwide as one of China’s most renowned actresses and producers, Gong Li graces audiences with her captivating presence in cinema. Her journey started on December 31, 1965, when she was born in Shenyang, China.
From her breakout role in the acclaimed “Red Sorghum” (1987) to her award-winning performances in international films like “Raise the Red Lantern” (1991), “Farewell My Concubine” (1993), “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005), and “Miami Vice” (2006). Gong Li has consistently dazzled audiences on both local and global film stages. Her efforts have been recognized with prestigious honors, such as Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival, Golden Horse Awards, and more.
Recently, Li Gong has also delved into film production; she produced the Chinese movie “Coming Home” (2014), directed by Zhang Yimou.
As an American actress and artist of Chinese descent born on December 2, 1968, in Queens, New York, Lucy Liu is renowned for her compelling portrayals of strong, independent women. Her impressive roles across the silver screen and television have captivated audiences nationwide.
She first gained notoriety for her performance in the renowned television series “Ally McBeal” (1998-2002), earning her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. She has since achieved an array of successes in various movies, such as “Charlie’s Angels” (2000), “Kill Bill” (2003), and most recently, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (2008).
She is also an incredible artist whose works have been featured in galleries worldwide. Moreover, her compassion for others has driven her to work as a UNICEF ambassador and donate generously to foundations that protect animals across the globe.
Acclaimed Malaysian actress, producer, and martial artist Michelle Yeoh were born in Ipoh on August 6th, 1962. This legacy continues to be celebrated for her outstanding accomplishments throughout Asian and Western films.
Michelle Yeoh earned her initial worldwide fame from the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) and has since then acted in many blockbuster hits including, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005), “The Lady” (2011) and most recently “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018). In addition to being an accomplished actress, she is also well-versed in ballet, dancing, and martial arts.
She has also been a devoted philanthropist throughout the years, acting as an ambassador with the Live to Love Foundation and a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador.
Bai Ling is a renowned Chinese-American actress and artist, hailing from Chengdu in Sichuan province. Born on October 10th, 1966, she has become an icon for her daring style and creative flair, having starred in several projects in China and the US film industry.
Ling first achieved global prominence with her part in the Chinese movie “Red Corner” (1997), where she was granted the Best Actress Award at the Singapore International Film Festival. She has then gone on to star in several highly-acclaimed films, such as “The Crow” (1994), “Anna and King” (1999), “Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow” (2004), and “Wild Wild West.”
Ling has been lauded for her pioneering artwork, which she has displayed in galleries all over the globe. She is renowned for her avant-garde style and was recently included on People Magazine’s list of 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.
Joan Chen, an incredibly talented Chinese-American actress, director, and producer born on April 26th, 1961, in Shanghai, has earned international fame for her work across both Chinese and American films and television.
Chen rose to fame worldwide for her part in “The Last Emperor” (1987), a movie that won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Subsequently, she has been featured in various acclaimed films such as “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” (1992), “Heaven & Earth” (1993), and not least of all, “Lust, Caution” (2007).
Chen is accomplished not only as an actor but also as a master storyteller behind the camera. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Chen actively supports charitable causes that promote education and women’s health across the globe.
Acclaimed American actress Constance Wu was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 22, 1982.
Wu gained impressive acclaim for her prominent role in the hit television series “Fresh Off The Boat” (2015-2020). This show made history as the first network production to cast an all-Asian ensemble after over two decades. After that, she starred in phenomenal films, such as “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) – a remarkable breakthrough for Asian representation within Hollywood’s cinematic realm.
Wu is a passionate advocate for Asian-American visibility and representation in Hollywood. She has courageously addressed the struggles, stigmas, and stereotypes countless Asian-American actors face while attempting to make it big in the industry. She continues to use her influence to push for greater diversity on screen.
Born on February 27, 1973, in Harbin, China, Li Bingbing is a multi-talented celebrity who has built an impressive career as an actress and singer.
Li gained international acclaim for her part in the Chinese cult classic “Farewell My Concubine” (1993), which earned a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. After that, she went on to star in several hit films such as “The Forbidden Kingdom” (2008), “Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012), and most recently, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (2014).
She has collaborated with international organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wildlife Fund; in 2009, her work was rewarded when she became a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme.
On June 10, 1985, Celina Jade arrived with a distinct combination of Chinese and American heritage. Since then, she has made an incredible impact on both the Chinese and American film industries as an actress, singer-songwriter, and model.
Jade’s career took off with her role as Shado in the famous TV show “Arrow” (2012-2018). She has gone on to star in many hit movies, including “Wolf Warrior 2” (2017) and, most recently, the action thriller “Triple Threat” (2019).
Talented singer-songwriter Jade has blessed us with several albums while participating in charity initiatives such as supporting animal welfare organizations and joining forces with the United Nations to advance environmental sustainability.
Celebrated since the 1980s, Macau-born American actress Ming-Na Wen has had a remarkable television and voice acting career. Having been born on November 20th, 1963, she is an iconic figure of entertainment that continues to inspire us today.
After her groundbreaking role in “The Joy Luck Club” (1993), Ming-Na Wen’s career soared, with acclaimed performances in various films like “Mulan” (1998) and “Street Fighter” (1994). Her recognition extended to television as well; she achieved success with long-running roles on series such as “ER” (1994–2004), “Stargate Universe” (2009–2011), and most recently, the Marvel hit show “Agents of SHIELD” (2013-2020).
Wen has graced the screen with her voice in various animated films and television shows, including providing the voice for Mulan in “Mulan” and Fennec Shand in “The Mandalorian.”
On April 16, 1976, in Xindian Taiwan was born the talented Shu Qi – an actress and model who has graced both Chinese and international films with her remarkable performances.
Shu Qi’s entry into the entertainment industry began as a model and eventually led her to act. She quickly gained popularity with her roles in “Viva Erotica” (1996) and “Portland Street Blues” (1998). Since then, she has gone on to star in numerous box-office hits like “The Transporter” (2002) and “The Assassin” (2015), further solidifying her status as an iconic actress.
Aside from her acting career, Shu Qi has also significantly contributed to charitable pursuits. She is committed to collaborating with entities dedicated to providing access to education and emergency aid in the wake of natural disasters.
Boasting an impressive career in Hong Kong television dramas, Ada Choi is a renowned actress and singer born on September 17th, 1973. Her powerful performances have set her apart from the rest of the pack and earned her international recognition as one of Asia’s most talented entertainers.
Choi’s journey in the entertainment industry began in the early 90s, and she first made a name for herself with her performance in the series “Eternal Happiness” (1994). Throughout her career, Choi has impressed viewers with unforgettable roles in acclaimed dramas like “My Family” (1995), “Healing Hands” (1998), and even most recently, “The Academy” (2005).
On top of all that, Choi uses her platform to support charitable organizations dedicated to education and bettering the welfare of kids.
Born on May 22, 1979, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Maggie Q – an iconic American actress and former fashion model- has gained worldwide recognition for her incredible work in domestic and international films and television series.
Maggie Q’s acting career skyrocketed when she starred in Hong Kong films such as “Gen-Y Cops” (2000) and “Naked Weapon” (2002). She gained further acclaim for her acclaimed role on the TV series “Nikita,” playing the titular character from 2010 to 2013. Maggie also achieved success with big-screen roles, including a part in “Mission: Impossible III” (2006) and later in 2014’s smash hit film “Divergent.”
Maggie Q is an ardent advocate for animal rights and has devoted herself to several philanthropic endeavors concerning the well-being of animals and environmental sustainability.
Zhou Xun is a renowned Chinese actress and singer, born on October 18th of 1974, in Quzhou, Zhejiang province. For over 25 years, she has been gracing us with her domestic and international performances.
Zhou Xun’s illustrious acting career kicked off in the mid-1990s, and her breakthrough role was in “The Pampered Wife” (1997). She has since starred in a plethora of celebrated films like “Suzhou River” (2000) and “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”(2002), as well as working with prestigious directors such as Wong Kar-wai (“2046”, 2004) and Ang Lee(“The Banquet,” 2006).
Zhou Xun is a multifaceted talent who has released multiple albums throughout her career and actively supports numerous philanthropic causes, such as those that promote education and child welfare.
On October 7th, 1979, Tang Wei was born in the beautiful city of Wenzhou, located within Zhejiang province in China. She is acclaimed for her remarkable talent and stellar performances in Chinese and international films.
In the mid-2000s, Tang Wei took up acting and quickly earned recognition with her starring performance in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” (2007). Though the film stirred controversy due to its dynamic content, critics lauded Tang Wei’s skillful portrayal, which led to the Best Actress award at the Golden Horse Awards. She has since risen as an acclaimed actress by appearing in films like “Crossing Hennessy” (2010) and “Blackhat” (2015).
Tang Wei is also a successful model who has collaborated with several renowned fashion labels.
Celebrated Chinese and Hong Kong actress and model Lynn Hung, also known as Xiong Dailin, was born in Nanjing on October 10th, 1980. Her illustrious career spans both the Chinese and Hong Kong film industries, with many memorable roles that have captivated fans worldwide.
Lynn Hung started her career as a model before transitioning into acting. She immediately rose to fame with her performance in the 2008 film “Ip Man,” playing the part of Ip’s wife, and returned for its two sequels in 2010 and 2015. Her impressive presence was also felt in numerous other flicks such as “All’s Well, Ends Well 2011” (2011) and “Love In Space” (2011).
Lynn Hung has dedicated her time and energy to many charitable organizations focusing on animal welfare and education.
As an acclaimed Chinese actress, model, and singer, Dilraba Dilmurat (known by her stage name – Dilireba) graced the world with her presence on June 3rd, 1992, in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China.
Dilraba Dilmurat has become a renowned figure in the Chinese entertainment industry due to her roles on popular television series such as “Eternal Love” and “The King’s Woman,” while also starring in acclaimed films like “Mr. Pride vs. Miss Prejudice” and “Namiya.”
Dilraba Dilmurat’s illustrious career has been partnered with countless awards and nominations, such as the Asian Television Award for Best Actress and the Weibo Award for Most Popular Actress. Her status among her contemporaries is evident in both China and other countries worldwide, solidifying her place amongst today’s most beloved actresses.
On October 16th, 1987, the multifaceted talent Zhao Liying (Zanilia Zhao) was born in Langfang, Hebei, China. She has since risen to fame through her work as an actress and singer.
Zhao Liying is a renowned actress, particularly for her roles in popular Chinese television dramas such as “Princess Agents,” “Legend of Fei,” and “The Journey of Flower.” She has also starred in various movies, including the critically acclaimed films “The Monkey King 3” and ‘Our Time Will Come.’
Throughout her career, She has been awarded several accolades, including the Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress and China TV Drama Award for Best Actress, confirming that she is one of the most beloved actresses in China and around the world.
The journey of Chinese actresses in the Hollywood scene has been marked with accomplishments and obstacles. Fortunately, there are more openings for Asian actors to demonstrate their talent and gain recognition lately than ever before. The value of representation and diversity in entertainment is essential, so it’s refreshing to observe the progress being made within this area.