Ming-Na Wen is an actor most well-known as the speaking voice of the titular character in Disney’s 1998 animated film Mulan and for portraying Fennec Shand in The Mandalorian. Ming-Na Wen has accumulated almost two-dozen film credits in her 35-year career, but has also made an indelible mark on television in ER, Stargate Universe, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and dozens of other television shows.
Ming-Na Wen has not yet been confirmed for season three of The Mandalorian, but she will continue her storyline as Fennec Shand alongside Boba Fett, played by Temuera Morrison, in the Disney Plus series The Book of Boba Fett. While an exact date has yet to be announced, the series is expected to premiere in December of 2021.
Ming-Na Wen was also recently confirmed as part of the cast for Star Wars: The Bad Batch, which premieres on Disney Plus on May 4, 2021, also known as Star Wars Day. Wen will be reprising her role as Fennec Shand, but this time she’ll be voicing a younger version of the character as the series takes place prior to The Mandalorian.
Here’s what you need to know about Ming-Na Wen:
1. Ming-Na Wen Left Star Wars Actor Mark Hamill ‘Literally Speechless’ After They Worked Together on The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian brought the show’s second season to a conclusion on December 18, 2020 with “Chapter 16: The Rescue.” Capitalizing on all of the groundwork laid throughout the series, and previously in the Star Wars universe, the end of the episode saw the live-action return of Mark Hamill as a digitally de-aged Luke Skywalker.
Fan reactions to the return of Hamill as Skywalker were understandably powerful, and Hamill took to Twitter in the days after the episode aired to express how he would “cherish” those reactions. However, it was a response by Ming-Na Wen about working with Mark Hamill in The Mandalorian that ultimately stunned the Star Wars legend.
After Wen praised Hamill, and the character Luke Skywalker, for inspiring her as a child and adult, she stated on Twitter that sharing a scene with Hamill was “one of the biggest highlight[s], not just in [her] career, but in [her] life.” Hamill responded on Twitter a few days later to say the praise had left him “literally speechless.” In the same tweet to Wen, Hamill stated: “the pleasure was all mine”.
2. Ming-Na Wen Called Out Netflix & Got Them to Fix a Cast Listing for Mulan That Left Out Asian-American Leads
While the animated classic Mulan (1998) was made over two decades ago, it continues to find new audiences thanks to the movie’s presence on streaming services in recent years. While the film can now be seen on Disney Plus, it was a part of Netflix’s catalogue in December of 2018 according to a contemporary report from Harper’s Bazaar.
After a fan spotted that the Netflix cast listing completely omitted Ming-Na Wen, the original voice of Mulan took to Twitter to call the service out directly. On top of agreeing she deserved to be on the listing, Ming-Na Wen also pointed out the absence of fellow Asian-American actors in the credit. Other actors of Asian descent in that cast included BD Wong, who voiced Captain Li Shang in the film, according to IMDB.
Only one day later, Netflix responded on Twitter and stated the changes had been made. While Netflix did not apologize for the omission in their reply, the company did thank Ming-Na Wen and the original viewer Dave Sanchez for noticing the omission.
3. Ming-Na Wen Had a Cameo in the Live-Action Mulan With Her Daughter Michaela Zee
When Disney premiered the live-action remake of Mulan in March of 2020, it was no surprise that the original voice of the character from the animated classic ended up making a cameo appearance. However, Ming-Na Wen wasn’t the only member of her family who appeared in Mulan (2020).
Ming-Na Wen spoke to Insider about the opportunity in November of 2020, explaining the difficulties of fitting it into her hectic schedule while filming for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The decision to include Ming-Na Wen’s daughter Michaela Zee in the film wasn’t planned, but instead came about spontaneously thanks to producer Jason Reed. Zee was just 19 years old at the time.
“[Producer] Jason [Reed] was so sweet. He [was] like, ‘Oh, your daughter has to be in it, too.’ Passing on the baton all around,” Wen said when she spoke to Insider. It wasn’t a long appearance, but Wen called it a “really special moment.”
4. Ming-Na Wen Once Surprised Kelly Marie Tran on an Episode of The Drew Barrymore Show
Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show last month to discuss taking on the role of a Disney princess as the lead in Raya and the Last Dragon. After Tran explained what it was like seeing herself represented in Mulan and how Ming-Na Wen had been “such an inspiration” to her, Drew Barrymore suddenly brought Ming-Na Wen into the video chat with no warning.
“I feel like I’m looking in a mirror at the younger me,” Wen said of Tran, according to ET’s transcript of the interview. “Because I followed Kelly’s footsteps and became part of the Star Wars family and now she’s following my footsteps in being a Disney princess. I feel like we have this whole mirror thing going on and I love it. I’m so proud of you.”
This led to a heartfelt and ultimately powerful conversation between fellow Star Wars actors Kelly Marie Tran and Ming-Na Wen that discussed important topics such as the increase in anti-Asian violence that has been seen throughout the country in recent months, which Wen called “a constant fear” during the interview, as her daughter attends college in New York.
5. Ming-Na Wen Made Her First TV Appearance as Part of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1985 While She Was Studying at Carnegie Mellon University
While Ming-Na Wen may have an iconic resume with over three decades in television and film today, everyone has to start somewhere. In 1985, Wen was studying at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to TribLIVE, a media outlet in Pennsylvania.
In an interview with StarWars.com from December of 2020, Wen talked about growing up in Pittsburgh and connecting with fellow “Pittsburgh kid” and The Mandalorian executive producer Dave Filoni during the filming of the Disney Plus show. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was actually filmed at WQED in Pittsburgh, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which is less than half a mile away from Carnegie Mellon University, according to Google Maps.
Ming-Na Wen got the opportunity to play the role of a Royal Trumpeter in an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a clip of the appearance was shared on Facebook by Fred Rogers Productions in May of 2019. In February of 2018, Ming-Na Wen shared an image of the appearance on Twitter and confirmed she got to appear alongside two fellow Carnegie Mellon University classmates.