Ming-Na Wen: Joining the Star Wars Universe Was a Lifelong Dream Come True

Many of us can remember the first time we saw Star Wars. For first generation  fans, and many other fans besides, that image of the seemingly endless Star Destroyer filling the screen blew minds. Not many of us are able to parlay that into a role in a Star Wars project, but Ming-Na Wen has. 

Wen stars in The Mandalorian, which will be premiering in November on Disney+. She’s having quite the year, being named a Disney Legend and having her signature project Mulan getting a live-action.

Ming-Na Wen at the D23 Expo
Ming-Na Wen arrives at the D23 Expo | Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Wen can’t believe her luck with Star Wars

Wen describes herself as a major Star Wars fan. The actress told the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, “Ever since I was a little girl, when I saw Star Wars, it changed my life … I used to like pray to God, Buddha and the Force. I’m not kidding. And to this day, when I get on a plane, I still pray to God, Buddha and the Force we land safely.”

One can almost hear Han Solo grousing “That’s not how the Force works!” 

The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars series, and it’s being overseen by Jon Favreau of Iron Man fame. It takes place five years after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi. The title character is a bounty hunter operating on the outer reaches of the galaxy.

We don’t know the name of Wen’s character, but IMDB lists her as starring in one episode, but it’s a big one – the premiere. 

One would think that a Star Wars superfan would jump at the chance to be in a Star Wars show, but Wen actually hesitated, fearing she would mess it up somehow. True to form for a Star Wars actor, she can’t talk much about her character 

“Thank goodness I said ‘yes.’ I would have been a real idiot not to have,” Wen said at the convention. “It’s a fantastic character. I can’t talk about her, but I can’t wait for you to see it. It’s coming out in November, and I can’t wait to see the whole series.”

Ming-Na Wen is Mulan

In a way, making The Mandalorian for Disney/Lucasfilm is coming full circle for Wen because Disney fans know her best as the voice of Mulan in the 1998 movie of the same name. That movie is getting the live-action remake treatment next March with Yifei Lu playing the title role. 

However, Wen’s involvement with Disney does not extend only to Mulan and the Mandalorian. She played Agent Melinda May in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, which is wrapping up its run with its next season.

That makes her the only actress to participate in all three major Disney properties: Disney itself, Marvel and now Star Wars.

She is now a Disney Legend

For her varied contributions to Disney, she was named a Disney Legend at the D23 fan convention last month. She’s among heady company in this year’s class alone, which includes Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, James Earl Jones, Bette Midler, Kenny Ortega, Robin Roberts, Diane Sawyer and Hans Zimmer.

When she learned the news, she said on Instagram “I cried because I was so moved. Never in my wildest dreams would I expect this to happen to me. I am just always grateful for the work. That is reward enough. I love acting. I love @Disney.”

During her acceptance speech, she even joked about Disney owning so many juggernaut franchises. She addressed Disney CEO Bob Iger at the ceremony, saying “Please just keep acquiring all these different franchises, because I just keep getting employed by them. I have hit every bucket list thanks to Disney.”