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Why Adult Erin From Amazon Prime's Paper Girls Looks So Familiar

This article contains mild spoilers for the first season of Amazon Prime's "Paper Girls."

Amazon Prime's "Paper Girls" is all about dealing with the impossible by making friends — in this case, literally with yourself. Twelve-year-olds Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky) and KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) are out on their usual delivery route on Halloween night, 1988, with newbie papergirl Erin Tieng (Riley Lai Nelet) when they stumble into trouble — a war between two factions of time travelers. 

When they head to Erin's house for shelter, they encounter a grown-up version of Erin still living in her family home. The group collectively realizes that they've been sent forward in time to Halloween night, 2019. The still-awkward Erin finds herself joining up with the other future versions of the Paper Girls and trying to help the teenagers get back to their proper place in the timestream, and along the way develops a sense of confidence that she's never had before. It comes in handy when the girls find themselves targeted for extermination by the Old Timers for committing the capital offense of traveling through time.

The actress who plays Adult Erin Tieng has a lot of acting experience under her belt. If you're a fan of any sort of comedy, it's likely she seems pretty familiar.

Ali Wong started out on sitcoms

Ali Wong may be well known for her work in comedic films and series, but she's got a surprisingly well-rounded résumé that includes drama, science fiction, and sitcoms.

Her first television appearances primarily feature her doing her stand-up act for the late-night talk show crows. She famously appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on July 7, 2011 to perform her act before the host's packed studio audience, marking her first act before a national audience.

Wong's work as a stand-up soon led to an acting career. Her very first credited acting role, according to IMDb, came on the Fox sitcom "Breaking In." The sitcom features an ensemble cast that includes Megan Mullally and Christian Slater. Wong portrays Ana Ng, and appears on three episodes of the the one-season wonder. Even though "Breaking In" was short-lived, its cancelation opened another door for her.

Chelsea helped make her a star

Wong's career really took off thanks to her appearance as a panelist on multiple talk shows. She was a regular on the E! hit "Chelsea Lately," appearing 12 times as part of the show's discussion roundtable.

This led to Wong being cast as Olivia, waitress and close friend of Chelsea Newman (Laura Prepon) in NBC's "Are You There, Chelsea?" The sitcom is an adaptation of Chelsea Handler's memoir "Are You There, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea;" Newman is a fictionalized version of Handler. Newman works at a sports bar and tries to wrangle her life back into shape while dealing with her drinking problem. Olivia waits tables alongside Chelsea and frequently tries to help her friend out when she gets into trouble. During an interview with channelAPA, Wong describes the sitcom as a show about real people who experience realistic situations. 

After the spring 2012 cancelation of "Are You There, Chelsea?" (per Vulture), Wong went on to act as a panelist on VH1's "Best Week Ever." She appeared on the program 16 times in 2013, and also appeared as a contestant three times on Comedy Central's comedy game show "@ Midnight."

Black Box allowed her to try drama on for size

Ali Wong's acting career took her to a surprising new place in 2014, when she became a regular on ABC's drama "Black Box." Wong plays Dr. Lina Lark, a radiologist struggling with her messy love life. Her friend and fellow doctor at the hospital is Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly), a neuroscientist whose bipolar disorder tends to make her already complicated life reporting on rare matters of mental health even more complicated.

While Black struggles to stay compliant and take her medication, Lark is portrayed as buttoned-down and serious — not at all the sort of creative thinker that Black is. Lark develops a romantic interest in Catherine's brother, Josh Black (David Chisum), and manages to kiss him once before "Black Box" was canceled in the spring of 2014, according to Entertainment Weekly. Wong appears in 11 of the show's 13 episodes.

Wong continued to apply her comedic chops to the small screen, appearing in three episodes of Comedy Central's "Inside Amy Schumer" as various characters from 2014 to 2016. She showed up in the movies "Savages" and "The Hero" before popping up in her next big project.

She made an impression on American Housewife

Wong's career reaped rich rewards starting in 2016. That was when she began her regular role on the ABC sitcom "American Housewife," where she portrayed Doris. Doris is one of Katie's (Katy Mixon) closest friends, but her approach to parenting is nothing like Katie's. She's serious and strict, and often offers Katie advice when it comes to keeping her brood in line. Wong appears in 95 episodes of the sitcom. By the time the show reached its final season, Wong was so busy she had to make guest appearances via Skype calls.

While she was working on "American Housewife," Wong's career received a triple boost; she also worked as a story editor and a staff writer on "Fresh off the Boat," and eventually popped up on the program proper as Margot. At that point, Wong received an even bigger break thanks to her hit Netflix stand-up special, "Baby Cobra." The 2016 outing, which she performed while visibly pregnant with her second daughter, was followed up by "Hard Knock Wife" in 2018 and 2022's "Don Wong."

She made audiences swoon in Always Be My Maybe

If you're not a fan of sitcoms, dramas, or stand-up comedy, then it's likely the one thing you remember Wong from is the hit Netflix romcom "Always be my Maybe." Wong portrays Sasha Tran in the film. Sasha is a well-known celebrity chef whose engagement to a seemingly perfect guy falls apart. She returns to her native San Francisco and runs into wannabe rocker Marcus Kim (Randall Park), her childhood friend who became something a little bit more before their bitter estrangement as teenagers. 

Marcus and Sasha have not talked for years, but the chance meeting sparks their friendship back to life. They struggle with their mutual, suppressed crushes, and end up doing a series of outrageous things to avoid the drumbeat of true love. But naturally true love wins out.

Wong, who is a San Francisco native, spoke about her formative years to the San Francisco Chronicle's Date Book in 2019. She also spoke candidly about filming "Always be my Maybe," "It took a lot out of me, in the best possible way. It makes me reluctant to do another movie because it was a special experience. It's been a wild ride these past three years."

"Always be my Maybe" became the eighth-most-popular original film on Netflix in 2019, and launched Wong's career as a lead actress.

She plays Renee Montoya's ex in Birds of Prey

That's Wong as Ellen Yee, ex-girlfriend of Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) in "Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn." Renee's work as a detective ends up clashing with Ellen's work as Gotham's assistant district attorney, and they break up. But there's still romantic fire between Ellen and Renee, even though they end up on opposing sides of the law. That's partially Ellen's fault; she turns her ex in for sending evidence regarding the Black Mask case through the mail. Renee ends up suspended from the police force, turns rogue, and joins the Birds of Prey. Since Ellen hates vigilantes, that definitely makes their relationship even more strained than it was.

While Wong's role in "Birds of Prey" is brief, it's sill quite pivotal, and leaves the door wide open for future appearances as Ellen in the DCEU. With so many irons in Wong's fire, fans of the bluntly honest comic will likely see much more in the years to come.