The Beef actress grew up with her mom and dad in San Francisco and has given them shoutouts in her recent award speeches
Get to know the people who raised Ali Wong.
The comedian and Beef actress was born in April 1982 to parents Adolphus and Tam Wong. The youngest of four, Wong grew up in San Francisco, California with her family, before studying at UCLA and eventually moving to New York City to pursue a career in stand-up comedy.
Over the years, Wong has opened up about her parents and how they supported her in her early career, including how her late father, who died in 2011, would proudly cheer her on at her shows.
Most recently, Wong has paid tribute to her parents as she’s taken home big awards for her role in Netflix’s Beef. During the 75th Emmy Awards, she called out her late father as she accepted outstanding lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie.
“I wouldn’t be standing here without my parents, my amazing parents, my mother and my father, who I so wish was alive to share this moment with me,” the actress said.
Here’s everything Wong has shared about her parents.
Her mom came to the United States when she was 20
Wong's mother was born in Vietnam, but was sent to study in the United States by Wong’s maternal grandfather in 1960. There, she eventually met Wong’s father, per The Hollywood Reporter.
“My mom came to the United States when she was 20 years old, by herself, not knowing any English, at the beginning of the Vietnam War,” Wong wrote in Elle in 2019, in a piece about her Asian-American heritage.
She added that her paternal grandfather came to the United States when he was 8 years old “through Angel Island, all by himself.”
Her parents have three other children
Wong is the youngest of four children, including a brother and two sisters. During the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, Wong explained that her siblings are all older than her by “10 years and up.”
In her feature with The Hollywood Reporter, the publication noted that she credited her parents for “immersing her and her three older siblings in the Asian American community as well as for nurturing their creative expression from a young age,” eventually leading to her majoring in Asian American Studies at UCLA.
Her father was an anesthesiologist
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2019, Wong opened up about her late father and his commitment to making sacrifices to provide for his family: "He grew up in this one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown with no running water and he worked his ass off to study and become this anesthesiologist to provide the best life possible for me and my siblings.”
Her dad was super supportive of her career
While speaking with Jimmy Kimmel about her late father, Wong noted how he was always supportive of her career even “when I was struggling.” She recalled how he would come to her “not-so-well-attended shows” and after she'd make a “really filthy joke,” she’d announce to the audience that her dad was present.
She said he would then stand up and proudly wave to the crowd as if he’d “just won the Indy 500 or conquered Mount Everest.”
Her father inspired her to write her book Dear Girls
Before her father died from cancer in 2011, he left Wong a letter that eventually inspired her book Dear Girls. "[It] began with 'Dear Alexandra,'" Wong Parade.com about the letter from her father. "I love that letter but I wish he had written more to me about the person he was before I was born, and I wish he addressed all these lingering questions I still have for him."
Through her debut book, which is made up of a collection of essays, she told the publication that she hopes to answer any lingering questions her own daughters might have for her, including details about her early life and career.
Ali Wong says the hardest part of her divorce was telling her mother
In April 2022, Wong and her then-husband Justin Hakuta, with whom she shares two children, announced they were separating after eight years of marriage. "It's amicable and they will continue to co-parent lovingly," a source told PEOPLE at the time. (Wong filed for divorce in December 2023.)I
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Wong said “the hardest part about getting divorced” was her mother’s reaction. “I had told her before that I thought we might get divorced, and she was really upset,” she told the publication.
“She looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Can you just wait until I die?’ She was literally asking me to not live a life for myself," she said. "But she’s 82, what do I expect? ... It was still really f—--- hard dealing with all her fear of the shame it would bring her.”
She continued: “What was kind of cool about the announcement was that she didn’t have to tell any of her friends. All of them found out because it made it to a bunch of the Chinese and Vietnamese newspapers — I still can’t believe why on earth they would be interested in me — and they all called her. She died a million deaths in one day and then woke up the next day and was like, ‘I survived,’” adding, “She still sees Justin a ton.”
Ali Wong dedicated her Emmy win to her dad
While accepting an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie for her role in Beef, Wong gave a special shoutout to her parents, noting how he she wishes her dad could have been there to see her win the honor.
“I wouldn’t be standing here without my parents, my amazing parents, my mother and my father, who I so wish was alive to share this moment with me,” the actress said on stage. “My hilarious father, who loved me unconditionally and taught me the value of failure.”
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