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The Heartwarming Reason Ali Wong Landed Her Role On Paper Girls

Long before Ali Wong released her acclaimed stand-up special "Baby Cobra" in 2016, the comedian had been a fixture on late-night and in series like "Inside Amy Schumer," not to mention a writer for "Fresh Off the Boat." But "Baby Cobra" catapulted Wong's career, leading to big roles on shows like "Tuca & Bertie" and "American Housewife," as well as a leading role in the rom-com "Always Be My Maybe," which she also co-produced (via IMDb).

Wong's latest outing is the Amazon Prime sci-fi series "Paper Girls." Based on Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's Eisner Award-winning comic series of the same name, "Paper Girls" follows Mac (Sofia Rosinsky), Tiffany (Camryn Jones), KJ (Fina Strazza), and Erin (Riley Lai Nelet) in 1988 Cleveland as they encounter typical growing pains: friendship, first jobs, and encountering warring groups of time travelers. When the youngsters accidentally travel to the year 2019, they meet the adult version of 12-year-old Erin, played by Wong. Here's the heartwarming way the actress ended up on the series.

Ali Wong nabbed the role thanks to Jason Mantzoukas

At the height of the pandemic, most of us were elbow deep in jigsaw puzzles and sourdough starter. Not hirsute heartthrob and noted mensch Jason Mantzoukas. The actor, who's perhaps best known for his work in shows like "The League" and "The Good Place," spent his time assembling meaningful care packages for his friends, including Ali Wong. "Jason was being such a good friend. He sent me this huge box of comic books, and it included the whole series of 'Paper Girls,'" Wong told EW. "I think I finished it in one or two days. I loved it so much. He didn't even tell me that it centered on a young Asian-American girl!"

If the gift itself wasn't enough, Mantzoukas also lent words of encouragement to his friend once she reached out to producers about a part in the adaptation. "Before I read for it, Jason said to me, 'You know, they might have a hard time seeing you as adult Erin because adult Erin is a person whose dreams did not come true. Ali Wong, you are a person whose dreams all came true.'" I'm not crying, you're crying.

Wong reciprocated, convincing her buddy to go out for a part as well. He ended up being cast as Grand Father, a pterodactyl-owning member of the Old Watch who has a significant role in the "Paper Girls" Season 1 finale. "Paper Girls" marks yet another collaboration between Mantzoukas and Wong, who have previously worked together in projects like "Ralph Breaks the Internet" and "Big Mouth." "Even though we didn't get to work directly together," said Wong, "it was really beautiful to be part of this show together."