‘Beef’ reveals half-Vietnamese comedian Ali Wong’s acting skills

By Linh Le   April 29, 2023 | 02:14 am PT
Career of American comedian and actress of Vietnamese descent Ali Wong has taken her from the stand-up comedy stage to the starring role in the new Netflix show "Beef."
Half-Vietnamese actress Ali Wong was named on TIME’s 100 most influential people list in 2020 and 2023. Photo by Ali Wong Instagram

Half-Vietnamese actress Ali Wong was named on TIME’s 100 most influential people list in 2020 and 2023. Photo by Ali Wong Instagram

No stranger to success, the firebrand stand-up comic excelled from an early age.

She was president of her high school class, graduated cum laude from UCLA, studied abroad in Hanoi, and qualified for a Fulbright Program scholarship, according to The Washington Post.

Her parents originally wanted her to pursue a doctorate degree and become a professor, reported Vanity Fair.

Things may have gone in that direction had it not been for Wong's introduction to stand-up comedy during her time at UCLA.

Being the youngest child in her family, Wong had wanted to be heard for a long time, and stand-up filled that need. In 2005, she moved to New York to start her new career, according to NBC News.

Paying dues

In an interview with The Washington Post, Wong recalled that she "was eating beans from a can, living with eight other people" when she first moved to New York. She reportedly worked from 9p.m to 2a.m each night, perfecting her voice, stage presence, and delivery.

She’s now famous for having taken the stage immediately following her first wedding celebration, still wearing her white dress and veil.

Wong finally hit it big when Netflix released her comedy special "Baby Cobra."

In the 1-hour stand-up performance, she appears on stage seven months pregnant in a black-and-white striped dress, which became one of the most popular Halloween costumes of the year. Now somewhat immortalized by her fame, the outfit has been displayed by both the Smithsonian and the National Museum of American History.

Since then, Wong’s unconventional style has been typified by irreverent jokes about sex, feminism, and the double standards present in gender discrimination, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

Since "Baby Cobra," Wong’s additional Netflix specials "Hard Knock Wife" and "Dong Wong" have solidified her exceptional presence as a woman of color on Hollywood’s A-list.

Wong has also now proved her acting prowess as a lead character on the newly released series "Beef." In 2019, she also served as the writer, the producer, and lead actress in the film "Always Be My Maybe."

Thanks to these and other sensational performances, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people twice, both in 2020 and this year.

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