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Why Grandma From Turning Red Sounds So Familiar

Pixar's "Turning Red" is a charming tale of growing up and coming to terms with maturity and responsibility — while trying to cope with suddenly gaining the unpredictable ability to transform oneself into a giant red panda. As young Mei (Rosalie Chiang) struggles to find her way and convince her mother that she's not a baby anymore, hijinks and boy band-related excitement ensue. In the end, Mei and her mother (Sandra Oh) learn how to communicate and develop a better understanding of one another.

Among the many talented people voicing characters in "Turning Red," one voice sticks out — the woman giving life to Mei's Grandma. While this actress who portrayed Grandma hasn't done a lot of voiceover work before taking on the world of Pixar, she's definitely going to sound familiar to you if you like comedy, independent films, or Marvel's live-action Netflix universe of series. Why does the person who voiced Grandma in "Turning Red" sound so familiar?

Wai Ching Ho started with soaps, then moved to Grand Theft Auto

Actress Wai Ching Ho has been a well-traveled actress during her three-decade-plus career. Per her IMDb page, if her voice sounds familiar to you and you're over the age of 40, that might be because you were a soap opera fan in the 1980s. Ho recurred as Kim on the ABC soap opera "One Life to Live" six times from 1983 to 1990. She took on a number of small roles during the time, even appearing in the 1990 parody of life behind the scenes at a soap, "Soapdish." 

She appeared on "Law & Order" three times as three different characters — Mrs. Rhee in the 1992 episode "Self Defense"; the Owner in the 1999 episode "Blood Money"; and Mrs. Ngai in a 2001 episode titled "Teenage Wasteland." She also showed up on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" twice; once as Jane Yu in the episode "Enemy Within," and once as Mrs. Wong in "Proud Flesh." She rounded out her "L&O" appearance resume by showing up twice in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as Gladys Tang in "Lost Traveler" and Susan Guan in "The Inheritance." 

All of this led Ho to her only other voice acting role, as a pedestrian in the Rockstar video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

She appeared in small films and Disney epics alike

After doing voice work for "San Andreas," Ho appeared in many independent films, such as "Adventures of Power," "The Potential Wives of Norman Mao," "Children of Invention," "5 Lessons and 9 Questions About Chinatown" and "The Greatest." On the other end of the spectrum, she showed up in Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" in 2010 as Chinese Woman. This would mark the first, but not the last, time Ho would work for Disney. She continued to make supporting appearances on television; memorably, she appears in the musical number "Stay Cool" during the "Flight of the Conchords" episode "The Tough Brets." She also had roles in "New Amsterdam," "Orange is the New Black" and "Blue Bloods."

She appeared in Taylor Lautner's "Tracers" in 2015 before winning a role that would secure her position in the pantheon of the scariest superhero villains of all time.

She was a major part of DC's Netflix universe

Ho's breakthrough role came in 2015 when she landed the role of Madame Gao on Netflix's "Daredevil."  Madame Gao would appear in six episodes of "Daredevil" before crossing over to "Iron Fist" for nine episodes. She also appeared in six episodes of "The Defenders." Madame Gao runs the heroin trade in New York City, and her position as a founding member of the Hand puts her squarely in Danny Rand's (Finn Jones) crosshairs. Soon, every member of The Defenders is out to remove her from Rand Enterprises when they discover how she was siphoning money and resources from the company to keep her business afloat.

The actress moved on to a recurring role on "Fresh off the Boat" as Big Auntie and appeared in 2019's "Hustlers" as Destiny's (Constance Wu) grandmother. She had a supporting role in the short film "Lucky Grandma" as Lei Lei the Fortune Teller.

Lately, she's been recurring on Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens

Wai Ching Ho's latest role is a recurring part on the Comedy Central show "Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens." She portrays Li-Wei, or "Grandma #1," a friend of Nora's (Awkwafina) Grandma (Lori Tan Chinn). As of press time, she's appeared on the show three times. Just before taking on that role, she popped up in The CW's "Two Sentence Horror Stories" in the episode "Legacy" as Ma. She has also continued to appear in short films like "Sweatshop Kid," "Half of Her," and "A Father's Son."

Her IMDb lists several upcoming short films as well as two independent features in the works. Among these is the film "Sight," which will co-star Greg Kinnear. With the popularity of "Turning Red" leaving the possibility of a sequel in the air, hopefully Wai Ching Ho will appear on many a small and big screen in the years to come.