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Why Dr. Wen From The Stand Looks So Familiar

The upcoming limited series TV adaptation of Stephen King's book The Stand is premiering December 17 on CBS All Access and will air new episodes weeklyConsidered one of King's best works, The Stand tells the story of an influenza pandemic that wipes out most of the world's population. In the wake of the disastrous event, a new society forms, devolving into a battle between good and evil. Alexander Skarsgård plays Randall Flagg, also known as the "Dark Man," a powerful and menacing figure who begins to unite a group of people to move against the Free Zone, a community rebuilt with democratic ideals of community in mind. James Marsden plays Stu Redman, a man who helps lead the Free Zone and is immune to the virus, while Whoopi Goldberg takes on the role of Mother Abagail, a counterpoint to Flagg who is a prophet of sorts, gathering people to her in order to fight the villain and his forces. 

In a change from the novel, actress Olivia Cheng is playing a character named Dr. Sylvia Wen. The character doesn't appear in King's book and, beyond her name, there's no information about her role in the story. Though we know very little about her character in The Stand, Cheng is probably familiar to a lot of viewers. Can't place where you've seen her before? Here are her biggest roles so far.

Olivia Cheng played Mei Lin in Marco Polo

In 2014, Netflix premiered a new television series focused on the life of Marco Polo, famed Italian explorer. The series dramatizes his life, portraying a young Polo, played by Lorenzo Richelmy, and his relations with Kublai Khan, played by Benedict Wong. Marco Polo explores the complex political relationships of the Mongol Empire, and was even praised by Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, as reported by The National News, with the show receiving an award for its representation of Mongolian history.

Cheng stars in Marco Polo as Mei Lin, the favorite mistress of the emperor of the Song Dynasty, whose brother, Jia Sidao (Chin Han), has intense political aspirations and is willing to do anything to achieve them. After the emperor dies, Sidao manipulates Mei Lin into becoming a spy by kidnapping her daughter, forcing Lin to enter the harem of Kublai Khan to get close to him and gain key information that would help the Song Dynasty gain power. Lin is clever and adaptable, using her looks and social skills to gain leverage on others while also being very skilled with a blade. She will do anything to get her daughter back, even switching sides when it is to her advantage. 

Though the first season did not do well with critics, the second fared much better. Despite that, the show was ruled as a loss for Netflix and canceled after season 2 in 2016.

Cheng appeared in Deadly Class as Master Gao

In her next big role, Cheng was in the first — and sadly only — season of Syfy's Deadly Class, executive-produced by the Russo Brothers and based on the comic series of the same name from Image Comics. Set in the late 80s, the series focuses on a secret private school called King's Dominion that trains teenagers in the art of killing. The show stars Benjamin Wadsworth as Marcus Lopez Arguello, a homeless teen who is recruited to the school, along with Lana Condor as Saya Kuroki, María Gabriela de Faría as Maria Salazar, and more. 

Deadly Class reunites Cheng with her Marco Polo costar Wong, who plays King's Dominion's headmaster, Master Lin. Cheng plays a character named Master Gao, Lin's sister and the leader of the assassins guild. The two aren't on very good terms because of the trauma Gao endured in her childhood after she was sent away to be tortured and trained as an assassin. She resents Lin and the rest of her family for not stopping it from happening. As an adult, Gao is brutal and efficient, moving against Lin for control of the school.

Olivia Cheng starred in Warrior as Ah Toy

In 2019, Cheng starred in the first season of Warrior, a Cinemax martial arts drama based on a treatment by Bruce Lee and executive-produced by his daughter, Shannon Lee. Set in the 1870s in San Francisco, the series focuses on the Tong Wars that took place from around 1800 to the 1920s. Tongs were secret societies or organizations, and many were associated with crime and gangs. The Tong Wars that occurred in San Francisco's Chinatown were contested over control of businesses in the area and other issues.

Cheng plays a character named Ah Toy, based on the real historical figure of the same name, a sex worker who became a successful madam in San Francisco. According to The New York Review, she was the second Chinese woman to move to the city. Toy created an extremely successful business for herself over the years, using the justice system to protect her wealth, and died at the age of 99. In the series, Toy is a bisexual madam in charge of the Hop Wei brothel.

Warrior premiered its second season on October 2, 2020, which will likely be its last, as Cinemax has decided to stop making original content (via Deadline). Despite that, Warrior has done very well with critics, with a 79% for season 1 on Rotten Tomatoes and reviews still coming in for the action-packed season 2.