Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu Headshot

Actress

Birth Name: Lucy Alexis Liu

Birth Date: December 2, 1968

Age: 55 years old

Birth Place: Queens, New York

Stunningly beautiful and fiercely intelligent, actress Lucy Liu broke free of many of the stereotypes that typically pigeonholed Asian performers - particular female - in Hollywood. Following a string of early appearances on such popular series as "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), Liu skyrocketed to fame in 1998 when she joined the cast of the quirky legal comedy "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002) as the deliciously malicious Ling Woo. The actress quickly parlayed her sudden popularity into roles on the big screen in feature film hits like "Shanghai Noon" (2000), "Charlie's Angels" (2000) and a bravura performance as Japanese crime lord O-Ren Ishii in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003).

Later theatrical disappointments like "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006) and "Rise: Blood Hunter" (2007) gave way to more lucrative voice roles in such animated features as "Kung Fu Panda" (2008) and "Tinker Bell" (2008). And while starring roles on small screen efforts like "Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 2008) failed to bear fruit, a recurring part on the critically-hailed police drama "Southland" (NBC, 2009; TNT, 2010-13) did much to reestablish her credentials as a serious actress. With her obvious beauty enhanced by with an undeniable strength of character, Liu embraced her heritage even as she refused to let it define her as an artist.

Lucy Liu was born on Dec. 2, 1968 and raised in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, NY. Her parents were Taiwanese immigrants who had left behind careers in biochemistry and civil engineering to start a new life in the State; with both encouraging their children to receive a full education and pursue professional careers of their own. Reluctant to make waves in her ambitious family, the arts-oriented Liu kept her dreams of a becoming an actress to herself, studying her favorite Charlie Chan films for inspiration.

In 1986, she graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City and went on to New York University, but after one year, transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. While Liu closed in on a Bachelor of Science degree in Asian Languages and Culture, it was becoming harder to ignore her lifelong aspirations of acting. Her senior year she auditioned for a supporting role in a college production of "Alice in Wonderland" and was astonished to be offered the lead, particularly because the part typically called for a blonde Caucasian. In 1990, Liu broke the bad news to her parents: despite her freshly inked college degree, she was moving to Los Angeles to become an actress.

In less than a year, Liu landed her first professional acting job with a stint as a Peach Pit waitress on "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000). Soon, she was enjoying several guest spots a year on both dramas and comedies, ranging from "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) to "Coach" (ABC, 1989-1997). One of her more memorable turns was the recurring part of a woman whose young son was suffering from AIDS complications on NBC's medical drama, "ER" (1994-2009).

In 1996, Liu's up-and-coming film career began with a bit part as an ex-girlfriend in the 1996 hit "Jerry Maguire." The following year, she played an exotic dancer in the Harvey Keitel actioner "City of Industry," but she was about to achieve her big break with a role her parents would be proud of. In 1998, Liu auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter on the hit dramedy series, "Ally McBeal." The role was given to Portia de Rossi, but David E. Kelley was wowed by Liu's talent and promised to write a guest part for her in the show. The occasional appearances of Liu as Ling Woo - a hilariously bitchy, un-PC attorney - were such a winner with audiences, that Woo was added as a cast regular in the show's third season. During her run on the series, Liu's scene-stealing comic relief earned her many fans, as well as an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Had Liu not already come to the public's attention on "Ally McBeal," the 1999 Mel Gibson flick "Payback" may have proven to be her breakthrough role. She starred as Pearl, a leather-clad dominatrix who proved so likable, that the initial script was rewritten to afford her more screen time. The popular movie led to a pairing with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in the Wild West comedy "Shanghai Noon" (2000), before Liu snagged her most famous leading screen role alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz as one of "Charlie's Angels" (2000).

The girl-powered romp was a blockbuster and a respectful tribute to the iconic 1970s "jiggle" series. Even more refreshing was the inclusion of Asian-American Liu as representative of a new era of big screen female protagonists.

Following the phenomenal success of "Charlie's Angels," however, Liu's film career weathered its share of ups and downs. She starred opposite Antonio Banderas in the little-seen sci-fi thriller "Ecks vs. Sever" in 2002. She nabbed a part in the Oscar-winning film adaptation of the Broadway hit "Chicago" (2002), turning in a juicy if all-too-brief performance as murderess Kitty Baxter. In 2003, Liu reunited with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore for the action-packed sequel "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" - a film that was more laughable than anything else and all but killed the franchise off.

Undeterred, Liu got on board Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited fourth feature, "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003), giving a bravura performance as Japanese-Chinese-American O-Ren Ishii, Queen of the Tokyo Underworld and leader of the Crazy 88 Fighters. Liu also enlivened the 2004-05 first season of the doomed "Friends" spin-off sitcom "Joey" by playing the compulsively clean TV producer Lauren Beck on several episodes.

Making a shift, Liu began to focus more on dramas, playing a role as an FBI psychologist in the feature film bounty hunter chronicle "Domino" (2005) and as a Mandarin black market blood dealer in "3 Needles," which was not widely released but impressed the festival circuit with its gripping profiles of the international AIDS epidemic. Liu made her first foray into producing with the well-received documentary "Freedom's Fury" (2006), which centered on a 1956 Olympic water polo tournament between Russia and Hungary that paralleled the nations' struggle over power.

Liu returned to the screen as a fast-talking coroner trying to help Josh Hartnett survive a case of mistaken identity in the thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006) before taking an executive producer credit (and a supporting role) on the unfortunate Cedric the Entertainer flop, "Code Name: The Cleaner" (2007).

A straight-to-video thriller "Rise: Blood Hunter" (2007) found undead journalist Liu on a quest for revenge against the vampires that took her life, until a waning film profile was interrupted with a return to series television on "The Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 2008). From the executive producer of "Sex and The City" (HBO, 1998-2004), the highly anticipated hour-long drama promised to make the most of Liu's persona as a strong, independent woman and a loyal friend - albeit, with a great wardrobe. Unfortunately, "Cashmere Mafia" failed to attract the same loyal demographic "Sex and the City" had courted so well and was cancelled by the end of its first season.

Liu enjoyed far greater success, surprisingly enough, in a pair of animated feature films. She voiced Viper, one of the animal warriors known as the Furious Five in the smash hit, "Kung Fu Panda" (2008) and delivered another audio performance as the water fairy Silvermist in Disney's highly anticipated direct-to-DVD release "Tinker Bell" (2008).

With her schedule freed up by the axing of "Cashmere Mafia," Liu took another chance on a weekly series when she joined the cast of the avarice-themed melodrama, "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC, 2008-09). It was, however, another short-term endeavor, as the show was yanked by the end of season two. Returning to the more dependable and less demanding world of vocal work, she contributed to the animated sequels "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (2009) and "Kung Fu Panda 2" (2011) - the latter of which led to continued duties on the animated series, "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness" (Nickelodeon, 2011-16).

While it was not a fulltime commitment, Liu earned praise for her recurring role on acclaimed Los Angeles cop drama "Southland" (NBC, 2009; TNT, 2010-13), which she joined during its fourth season. She returned to feature film work with a supporting turn opposite Adrien Brody in "Detachment" (2012), an indie drama examining daily life at an urban high school, before returning to series television to play Dr. Watson to Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock Holmes in the modern day revamp, "Elementary" (CBS, 2012- ). Liu continued making movies, co-starring in the little-seen indie drama "The Trouble with Bliss" (2012) starring Michael C. Hall as an aimless slacker, and "The Man with the Iron Fists" (2012), a martial arts action flick set in 19th century China that marked the directing debut of Wu Tang Clan leader RZA.

Credits

A Man in FullStream

Actor
Joyce Newman
Series
2024
47%

The Tiger's ApprenticeStream

Voice
Nu Kua/Cynthia
Movie
2024
53%

Red One

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Jacqueline Frost
Movie
2024

Presence

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2024

Shazam! Fury of the GodsStream

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Kalypso
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2023
48%

The Miracle PandaStream

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2022

Strange WorldStream

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Callisto Mal
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2022
72%

Death to 2021Stream

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2021

Star Wars: VisionsStream

Voice
Bandit Leader
Series
2021
98%

Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days

Self
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2021

A Oscara dobiva...: Chicago

Actor
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2021

Unzipped: An Autopsy of American Inequality

Executive Producer
Movie
2021

A World of CalmStream

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Reality
2020

A World of Calm 06

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2020

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

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Talk
2020

Stage Mother

Actor
Sienna
Movie
2020

Why Women KillStream

Actor
Simone Grove
Series
2019
76%

Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?Stream

Voice
Lucy Liu
Series
2019

QT8: The First Eight

Self
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2019

Today 3rd Hour

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2018

New AmsterdamStream

Director
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2018

Zoe Ball on...

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2018

Elton John: I'm Still Standing -- A Grammy Salute

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2018

Futurama: Extras

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2018

Future World

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The Queen
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2018

Set It UpStream

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Kirsten
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2018
92%

Michael Jackson's Halloween

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2017

Live with Kelly and Ryan

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2017

Wrestling: WWE Raw

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Dr. Joan Watson
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2017

Marvel's Luke CageStream

Director
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2016
87%

AnimalsStream

Guest Voice
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2016
84%

Kung Fu Panda 3

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Viper
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2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

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2015

The Late Late Show With James Corden

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2015

The Meredith Vieira Show

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2014

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

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2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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2014

The Pirate Fairy

Voice
Silvermist
Movie
2014

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast

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Silvermist
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2014

Kung Fu Panda Holiday

Voice
Viper
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2013

The Social

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2013

GracelandStream

Director
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2013
86%

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

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Lady Sagami
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2013

ElementaryStream

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Joan Watson
Series
2012
95%

ElementaryStream

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2012
95%

Live! With Kelly and Michael

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2012

Live! With Kelly and Michael

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2012

Entertainment Studios.TV

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2012

GirlsStream

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Detective Mosedale
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2012
89%

CBS This Morning

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2012

The Man With the Iron Fists

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Madame Blossom
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2012

Secret of the Wings

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2012

Billy on the StreetStream

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2011

LIVE with Kelly

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2011

Pixie Hollow Games

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Silvermist
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2011

Kung Fu Panda

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2011

쿵푸팬더: 전설의 마스터

Voice
Viper
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2011

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of AwesomenessStream

Voice
Viper
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2011

East of Main Street

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2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

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Viper
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2011

East Fifth Bliss

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Andrea
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2011

Detachment

Actor
Dr. Parker
Movie
2011

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

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Life Coach
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2011

Marry Me

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2010

Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special

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Viper
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2010

The Talk

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2010

Nómadas

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Susan
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2010

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

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Silvermist
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2010

The Project

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2009

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

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2009

SouthlandStream

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Officer Jessica Tang
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2009
90%

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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2009

Afro Samurai: Resurrection

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Sio
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2009

Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure

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Silvermist
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2009

Redlight

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2009

Redlight

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2009

Little Spirit: Christmas in New York

Voice
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2008

The Wendy Williams Show

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2008

Ni Hao, Kai-lan

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Bear Queen
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2008

Cashmere Mafia

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Mia Mason
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2008

Kung Fu PandaStream

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Master Viper
Movie
2008
87%

Tinker Bell

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Silvermist
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2008

The Year of Getting to Know Us

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Anne
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2008

Dirty Sexy MoneyStream

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Nola Lyons
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2007
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Chelsea Lately

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2007

The Better Show

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Code Name: The CleanerStream

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Gina
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2007
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Code Name: The CleanerStream

Executive Producer
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2007
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Rise: Blood Hunter

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Sadie
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2007

Watching the Detectives

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Violet
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2007

Ugly BettyStream

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Grace Chin
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2006
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Rachael Ray ShowStream

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Lucky Number SlevinStream

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Lindsey
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2006
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Freedom's Fury

Executive Producer
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2006

Entertainment Tonight Canada

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2005

The Martha Stewart Show

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The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

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3 Needles

Actor
Jin Ping
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2005

Domino

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2005

Maya & Miguel

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The Insider

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2004

Joey

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2004
50%

Game Over

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Raquel Smashenburn
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2004

Kill Bill: Vol. 2Stream

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O-Ren Ishii
Movie
2004
84%

Mulan II

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Mei
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The Ellen DeGeneres Show

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Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

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Charlie's Angels: Full ThrottleStream

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Alex Munday
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2003
41%

Kill Bill: Vol. 1Stream

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O-Ren Ishii/Cottonmouth
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2003
85%

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

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Agent Sever
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2002

ChicagoStream

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Kitty Baxter
Movie
2002
86%

Cypher

Actor
Rita Foster
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2002

Live With Regis and Kelly

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2001

Live With Regis and Kelly

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2001

Hotel

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Kawika
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2001

Jackie Chan Adventures

Guest Voice
Adult Jade
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2000

Entertainment Studios.com

Guest
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2000

Shanghai Noon

Actor
Princess Pei Pei
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2000

Charlie's AngelsStream

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Alex
Movie
2000
68%

The Life and Trials of Ally McBeal

Actor
Show
1999

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Director
Series
1999
78%

FuturamaStream

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Herself
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1999

Flypaper

Actor
Dot
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1999

PaybackStream

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Pearl
Movie
1999
56%

True CrimeStream

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Toy Shop Girl
Movie
1999
56%

Molly

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Brenda
Movie
1999

The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human

Actor
The Female's Friend (Lydia)
Movie
1999

Play It to the Bone

Actor
Lia
Movie
1999

Sex and the CityStream

Guest Star
Lucy Liu
Series
1998
70%

Dellaventura

Guest Star
Show
1997

Michael Hayes

Guest Star
Show
1997

Ally McBeal

Actor
Ling Woo
Series
1997
61%

Ally McBeal

Guest Star
Ling Woo
Series
1997
61%

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

King of the HillStream

Guest Voice
Tid Pao
Series
1997

Pearl

Actor
Amy Li
Show
1996

Access Hollywood

Guest
News
1996

High Incident

Guest Star
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1996

Hercules: The Legendary JourneysStream

Guest Star
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1995

ERStream

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Mei-Sun Leow
Series
1994

Entertainers: With Byron Allen

Guest
Show
1994

NYPD BlueStream

Guest Star
Amy Chu
Series
1993
83%

The X-FilesStream

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Kim Hsin
Series
1993
74%

Late Show With David Letterman

Guest
Talk
1993

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Madam Wu
Series
1989
85%

CoachStream

Guest Star
Nicole Wong
Series
1989

CBS News Sunday Morning

Guest
News
1979

Good Morning America

Guest
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1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
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1975

Sesame StreetStream

Guest Star
Series
1969

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutLucy Liu

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