Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Wonder Woman

Ming-Na Wen went from acting in an elementary-school play to portraying peace-keeping agent Melinda May in ABC’s original series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”




 

 

Is adaptability a super power? If so, Mount Lebanon’s own Ming-Na Wen might be as special as the other-worldly heroes she lives among in her new action-adventure TV show “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

From an early age, the 49-year-old TV and film actress learned how to deal with change. Wen was born in Macau, China, and moved to Hong Kong at age 3. She and her family then relocated to New York when she was about 6; they lived there for five years before settling in Pittsburgh. Though her clan operates the Chinatown Inn, a mainstay downtown, she developed a passion for acting. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, Wen was on her way to launching a successful career.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for 20 years, it’s an easy bet that you’ve seen Wen in action. She appeared on “As The World Turns” from 1988 through 1991. She was featured on NBC’s “The Single Guy” throughout its two-season run and played one of Charlie Sheen’s love interests on “Two and a Half Men.” Her five-year “ER” gig came after an initial stint as a guest star. As for film, she kicked butt in Street Fighter, tugged at heartstrings in The Joy Luck Club and voiced the title character in Disney’s Mulan franchise. If you haven’t seen her at work, you might remember spotting Wen, a mother of two, in People’s 1994 and 2008 Most Beautiful People lists.

A self-professed “geek,” Wen won over the SyFy universe from 2009-2011 in her role as political attaché Camile Wray on “SGU: Stargate Universe.” That gig helped her prepare for what may be her biggest opportunity to date: a starring role on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which centers around Agent Coulson, famous for his role in The Avengers, and his crew as they try to protect the world from bad guys.

 

What was it like adjusting to your family’s move from Hong Kong to New York to Pittsburgh during your childhood?  
I didn’t speak a stitch of English when I came here, so it was a challenge going through special classes. The cultural differences were also challenging for my whole family, and the move from the diversity of Queens to a much more suburban life in Pittsburgh was another harsh leap.

How did you first discover your love for acting?   
I played a bunny in my third-grade play. I’ve always been kind of clumsy, and when I made my entrance on stage, I tripped and fell. People laughed, and I wasn’t embarrassed at all. I loved it! I thought it was so cool that I could get that kind of reaction, and I’ve wanted to entertain people ever since.

What’s the main thing you miss about living in Pittsburgh?  
My family’s restaurant. It’s one of the last remnants of the old Chinatown area, and I basically grew up there. We lived in a predominantly white suburban area, so that was the only place where I felt like there were people of my background. I felt comfortable and safe there. [Chinatown Inn has] the best egg rolls, and I miss those, too!

Do you have a passion for cooking?  
Absolutely. I am a complete foodie, and it pains me whenever I have to go on a diet for a part. I have a huge wok in my house, and we use it all the time.

You’ve built an eclectic resume throughout your career. Did you intend to keep a varied body of work?  
I get work wherever I can, honey! Honestly, I’ve done a lot of different things but I’ve always tried to stay true to the things I really wanted to do. When I read The Joy Luck Club, I wished I could be a part of the movie someday, and it came true. I’m a huge sci-fi geek. I played “Dungeons & Dragons” and hung out in arcades, so it’s a huge blessing that I’m now on [“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”].

Are you ever recognized strictly for your voice-over work?   
[Yes], and it’s kind of odd to be recognized for playing an animated character. I recently did a photo shoot, and a wardrobe woman told me that her roommate freaked out that she was working with me … because I was Mulan!

You’ve worked in everything from sitcoms to soaps. Which project required the toughest schedule? 
Definitely “S.H.I.E.L.D.” [“Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division”] because anything with this much action requires long hours setting up stunts and explosions — plus, you’re never shooting in a pretty place. You need a lot of mental focus, as well as physical strength and endurance. But it’s also so much fun!


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Tax Credit Brought Mister Rogers Flick to Pittsburgh

The granting of the credit means the majority, if not most of the movie starring Tom Hanks, will indeed be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Jeff Goldblum Day is Causing a Stir in the ’Burgh

Local venues will be celebrating the native actor Friday with Goldblum-themed merchandise and events.

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Pittsburgh Developer Offers Location for Riverfront Swings

A developer in the South Side may fulfill KDKA anchor Ken Rice’s wish for shaded benches along the city’s riverfronts.

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Expert Opinions on How HQ2 Could Change Pittsburgh

From jobs to housing to technology, six areas which would be impacted if Amazon chose Pittsburgh for its HQ2.

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

The 400-Word Review: The First Purge

The prequel to the horror series has plenty to say. It's just no good at saying it.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

Comments

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Comments

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Six Underrated Kennywood Rides You Need to Try Again

Leave enough time in your next visit to Kennywood to revisit some old favorites and these underrated gems.

Comments

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

Looking to show off your Pittsburgh love? Get your favorite city printed on basically anything at these local shops.

Comments


Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

Comments

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Parking-lot punk, polished Potter and other July attractions.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Comments

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The 400-Word Review: The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

The Netflix exclusive Josh Brolin flick is pleasant enough, but light on laughs.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

I Do, Now Let’s Have Some BBQ

A five-course meal doesn’t fit with every wedding. These laid-back couples opted for casual — and delicious — cuisine perfect for their outdoor and barn receptions.

Comments

Want Unique Wedding Photos? Track Down the Furries

Want Unique Wedding Photos? Track Down the Furries

Anthrocon returns this weekend for its 22nd annual convention. Here’s the story of one local couple who took advantage of the fact their wedding coincided with the annual gathering.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

Head to the North Hills for Two Blooming Garden Tours

The Wexford Garden and Pond Tour and the Southern Butler County Garden Club tour both take place this weekend.

Comments

Cocktails in the Garden: How to Plant a Happy Hour

Cocktails in the Garden: How to Plant a Happy Hour

Plant and grow the ingredients you need to make a fresh summer drink.

Comments