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Why Jasmine From Pretty Smart Looks So Familiar

"Pretty Smart," the hilarious new Netflix comedy, debuted Oct. 8 and quickly rose to join Netflix's Top 10, where it currently sits at No. 8. If you've been watching it, you've been enjoying the assimilation of Emily Osment's intellectual character, Chelsea, into the lives of her less-intelligent but sweet and enthusiastic sister, Claire (Olivia Macklin) — as well as Clair's eccentric but super-fun roommates — after getting dumped by her Harvard boyfriend.

One of these roommates is Jayden (Michael Hsu Rosen), the gay, fashion-forward social media influencer who is also an aspiring model. It turns out that his mother, Jasmine, helped nurture his desire for celebrity, becoming his mom-ager and fostering a dynamic between the two that is so toxic he can only express it through interpretive dance. In Episode 8, "OMG! Jayden's mom is back!" he agrees to meet her so she'll stop trolling him online, and Jasmine lures him back to her with the promises of a Nike contract.

You may recognize the actress playing Jasmine, because she's one of the most prominent Asian-American actresses in the entertainment industry today. She's been acting since the 1980s, when she got a break as a regular in "As the World Turns" (she was the first Asian actor to get a regular role in a soap) and then got an even bigger break when she starred in 1993's "The Joy Luck Club," based on the book by Amy Tan. Proving that she can do comedy just as adeptly as drama, she's been on shows like "Fresh Off the Boat," "Two and a Half Men," and "Awkwafina is Nora from Queens." And she's a sci-fi heroine of long-standing thanks to roles in "Stargate Universe," "Eureka," "Street Fighter" and others. Here are some of the biggest roles you might know Ming-Na Wen from.

Ming-Na Wen is the voice of Disney's Mulan

Ming-Na Wen holds the distinction of being one of the few actors who has appeared as part of the Disney trifecta. To start with, she's a Disney princess. "Mulan" was one of the actress' early projects, as she started voicing the character for the big screen in 1995. In fact, it was her first voiceover job, and she worked on it off and on for three years. "I've always been a huge Disney fan. So I knew about, you know, the potential of the 'Cinderellas' and the 'Snow Whites' that is everlasting. But I really thought that Disney was taking a huge, huge gamble in creating an animation that was so based on a particular culture — in the Chinese culture — and have it be with all these Asian characters," she told Slashfilm in 2020.

She's actually very grateful to the House of Mouse. She got her job on "Mulan" from her work on Hollywood Pictures' "Joy Luck Club," which is also under the Disney name. "In fact, I feel like my whole career is dedicated to Mickey Mouse. Everything I've done thus far, except for maybe 'ER' and a couple films, has always been under the umbrella of Disney," she said. 

She has played the character numerous times over the years, with her last stint voicing Mulan being in 2018's "Ralph Breaks the Internet." She also had a cameo in 2020's live-action "Mulan."

Ming-Na Wen was a series regular on ER

Speaking of "ER," Ming-Na Wen was a regular cast member. She played Jing-Mei Chen, a character who had plenty of romantic, familial, and professional drama during the course of five years (plus). She entered the show as an enthusiastic resident named "Deb" Chen, but when she makes a near-fatal mistake, she decides maybe she's not cut out for front-line medical work. In season 6, though, she returns in the episode "Family Matters" as a third-year resident, now using her Chinese name, having become re-committed to medicine as a result of saving a man's life on the subway. 

Her life at County General Hospital included such storylines as a pregnancy that results in adoption (she was pregnant in real life, according to ABC News), her resignation when she makes a mistake due to the attending physician being unreachable when she needed guidance, being under quarantine for smallpox, and getting involved in a car accident that resulted from a shooting. In season 11, she quits after she is denied leave to take care of her ailing father, who begs for her help in committing suicide. She ultimately accedes to his wishes, then takes his body to China — leaving her life in Chicago behind. 

Wen has said on Twitter that during her audition, the character of Deb wasn't Asian-specific until after she was cast. When she left in 2004, the actress noted that it was a mutual decision. "The producers definitely talked about running out of stuff to do with the character. I felt like it's been that way for the past year; I wondered if there's anything left," she told Entertainment Weekly, which quoted her as saying that her character was basically a spoiled brat who buckled under pressure.

Ming-Na Wen played Agent Melinda May in Marvel Agents of SHIELD

One of Wen's longest-running roles was with the Marvel TV series "Agents of SHIELD" from 2013-2020. While fans may still be wondering if the show remains canon (or if it has been relegated to one of the many multiverses by the events of "WandaVision" and "Loki"), it's indisputable that Wen's character, Melinda May, was always a bright spot for the series. She entered the show as part of Phil Coulson's (Clark Gregg) team, but one who was initially sent to spy on him by director Nick Fury. A legendary SHIELD agent, Melinda May was nicknamed "The Cavalry" for her single-handed prowess during a SHIELD operation gone wrong. 

Throughout the series, May was unfailingly loyal to Coulson and the team, even giving the "real" Coulson a happy ending when the two end up together at the end of season 5 just before his death. Near the end, to go with her unparalleled martial arts skills, the seemingly detached Melinda May even developed her own superpower — that of empathy. For those keeping count, that makes her a Marvel superhero. 

Wen has said it was challenging for her to play such a character, since she's so not like that in real life. "I cry at the drop of a hat. I'm so emotional," she told ComicBookMovie.com. "To have to bottle all that in and play a character that has all these emotions, but just can't show them, or chooses not to engage with her feelings, because of her post-traumatic stress syndrome, being a wounded soldier, is challenging. It's fascinating to play, and I have to trust that as long as I'm feeling it on the inside, somehow that gets conveyed through the cameras."

Ming-Na Wen plays Fennec Strand in The Mandalorian

Ming-Na Wen is a self-described "geek girl," and she's a huge "Star Wars" fan specifically. "Every time I see a little news thing about 'Star Wars,' I get super excited," she said in the aforementioned ComicBookMovie.com interview — which took place in 2015, way before a little Disney+ series called "The Mandalorian" started filming (via MakingStarWars.net). 

In 2020, she told StarWars.com that, as a young wanna-be actress living in Pennsylvania with parents, who owned a Chinese restaurant, she related to Luke Skywalker's story. This naturally makes it all the sweeter that, completing the Disney trifecta, she was cast to be elite mercenary assassin Fennec Shand in the first season of "The Mandalorian." Then, not only did she return to the character in Season 2 as Boba Fett's (Temuera Morrison) companion, she played the character on "The Bad Batch," and is also going to be part of the upcoming "The Book of Boba Fett."

Shand could very well have been a one-off character who died quickly, but it turns out that Wen clicked with "The Mandalorian" executive producer Dave Filoni, who is also from Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The experience is thrilling for her, since she's always loved the universe. She even does 75 percent of her own stunts. "I used to pray to god, Buddha, and the Force because that's how much a belief it was for me," she said in StarWars.com. "It was a religious experience for me. No small thing! No small connection there ... I've been part of the [fandom] family for so many decades that now to actually be in the family is pretty crazy."