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The Transformation Of BD Wong From Childhood To Law & Order: SVU

The "Law & Order" universe expanded into "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 1999, a series that follows the New York City Police Department's 16th precinct as they take on some of the darkest and most heinous crimes in Manhattan. Even with dark storylines and haunting crimes, the long-running remains loved by audiences — which is saying something, after 23 seasons and over 500 episodes. The series does an excellent job at entertaining viewers, while remaining a serious show with somber content, and a huge part of why it does this so well is because of the brilliant casting and character development. 

A perfect example of this is BD Wong, known for playing Dr. George Guang on "Special Victims Unit." Guang is an agent who works as a psychiatrist and criminal profiler for the SVU, and the character was first introduced in Season 2, going on to stay as a main character all the way until his departure in 2015. 

Wong didn't get his start on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," though — he took a unique and performance-filled path to get there.

BD Wong is from San Francisco

BD Wong was born in San Francisco, California, on October 24, 1960, under the full name of Bradley Darryl Wong. His parents had three children, of which Wong was in the middle. In a 1991 interview with Ed Wilson, Wong describes how he got the acting bug and his start in his long and successful career. He graduated from Lincoln High School, where he discovered his passion for acting. It was during high school that he got his start acting in school plays. Once he graduated, he briefly attended San Francisco State University before deciding it wasn't the place he wanted to be.

Eventually, Wong saved the money to make his move from San Francisco to New York to pursue a path in theater before heading back to the west coast to make a name for himself in Los Angeles. In L.A., he landed one of his first onscreen parts with a small role in 1986's "Karate Kid Part II," that the movie's credits refer to as "Boy on Street," while Wong himself was credited as Bradd Wong. While a role in "Karate Kid Part II" is undoubtedly something any actor who is just starting out should be proud of, Wong's big break came from elsewhere.

BD Wong got his first big break and his stage name from Broadway

Wong's first big acting break actually came from a stage performance when he landed a leading role as Song Liling in the Broadway production of "M. Butterfly." The play is about a French diplomat played by John Lithgow who falls in love with an opera singer and spy played by Wong. This performance marked the first time that the actor chose to use the stage name BD Wong, and it arose because the gender of Wong's character in the play is meant to be unknown, so the producers asked him to use only his initials in the play's billing to add to his character. His stage name has remained the same ever since. As he told Playbill in 2003, "I did it, with the idea of going back to Bradd, but the initials sort of stuck."

For his part in "M. Butterfly," Wong earned himself several awards, including a Tony Award, a Theater World Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Clarence Derwent Award, and a Drama Desk Award. He is the first and only actor to receive all of the awards for the same performance (via IMDb). In 2017, when looking back on how massively the play impacted his life and reflecting on the importance of representation as an Asian-American actor, Wong told The New York Times that "It changed my self-esteem about being Asian-American and being an artist. Because I had shame about it before."

BD Wong voiced Li Shang in the animated version of Mulan

BD Wong's career in the 1990s began to take off with roles in movies like 1991's "Father of the Bride," in which he played a wedding planner. Most people still recognize him for his part in 1993's "Jurassic Park" as Dr. Henry Wu, the scientist that brings the dinosaurs back to life after millions of years of extinction. Some of Wong's roles are off-screen as well, and in 1998 he gave his voice talents to Disney when he played the character of General Li Shang in the original animated version of "Mulan." Wong's long career with "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" began shortly after, and that continued for over a decade.

In 2000, Wong and his partner welcomed his two sons, Jackson Foo Wong and Boaz Dov. The boys are twins. However, Boaz Dov passed away shortly after his birth. Wong would later write about this time in his 2003 memoir "Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man."

BD Wong and Law & Order: SVU

In the Season 2 episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Pique," BD Wong made his first appearance on the show as Dr. George Huang. His character in the show is a human rights advocate and the psychiatrist in the Special Victims Unit working with some of the darkest minds possible. Wong remained a part of "Law & Order: SVU" until the Season 12 episode "Bombshell." However, an onscreen reason wasn't given for his exit until the Season 13 episode "Father Dearest," when it was revealed he had an assignment in Oklahoma. Dr. George Huang makes one more guest appearance later on in the series, but aside from that, he has exited the show entirely.

Wong reflects fondly on his time with "Special Victims Unit" and explained in an interview with Daily Actor that leaving the show was both easy and difficult for him to do "[I]t was very easy because I really, really wanted to make, to do something new. And it was difficult because I have very strong emotional and personal ties to that job and that family of people that I was working with." 

With "Law & Order: SVU" still making new episodes to this day, many fans remain hopeful about potentially seeing a little more of Dr. George Haung in the future, but for now, Wong has moved on to other acting opportunities.

Life after Law & Order: SVU

BD Wong remained an important on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" until his exit from the show. He later made a few guest appearances in later episodes but is ultimately done with the series. Since his departure from the show, Wong continues to act regularly and has embarked on new roles as well as expanding on old ones.

In 2015, Wong began playing Whiterose, the leader of a Chinese hacker group known as The Dark Army, in the show Mr. Robot. He has also expanded on his role in the "Jurassic Park" franchise with his character of Dr. Henry Wu becoming one of the villains in the most recent films. 

Today, BD Wong often speaks publicly about his experience as both an Asian-American man, and as a gay man, within his career and personal life. He regularly visits universities to discuss his life and advocate for others in and outside the industry (per Elon News Network). Wong's path — from his teenage years in a high school theater to the lengthy acting resume he has today — has been one that can't be compared to anyone else, and it'll be exciting to see what new avenues he explores in the future, as well.