Dec. 2nd, 1968
Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, USA
Lucy Liu's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Lucy Alexis Liu (born Lucy Liu; December 2, 1968) is an American actress, model, artist, and occasional film producer and director.
Born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. In high school, she adopted her middle name “Alexis.” She is the youngest of three children born to Cecilia, who worked as a biochemist, and Tom Liu, a trained civil engineer who sold digital clock pens to make a living. Her parents worked many jobs when Liu and her siblings were growing up. Liu’s parents were immigrants from Beijing and Shanghai, and they met in New York. She has an older brother, John, and an older sister, Jenny.
Liu has always tried to balance an interest in her cultural heritage with a desire to move beyond a strictly Asian-American experience. Once relegated to "ethnic" parts, the energetic actress is finally earning her stripes as an across-the-board leading lady.
Liu graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1986 and enrolled in New York University; discouraged by the "dark and sarcastic" atmosphere of NYU, however, she transferred to the University of Michigan after her freshman year. She graduated from UM with a degree in Chinese Language and Culture, managing to squeeze in some additional training in dance, voice, fine arts, and acting. During her senior year, Liu auditioned for a small part in a production of Alice in Wonderland and walked away with the lead; encouraged by the experience, she decided to take the plunge into professional acting. She moved to Los Angeles and split her time between auditions and food service day jobs, eventually scoring a guest appearance as a waitress on Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990). That performance led to more walk-on parts in shows like NYPD Blue (1993), ER (1994), and The X Files (1993). In 1996, she was cast as an ambitious college student on Rhea Perlman's ephemeral sitcom Pearl (1996).
Liu first appeared on the big screen as an ex-girlfriend in Jerry Maguire (1996) (she had previously filmed a scene in the indie Bang (1995), but it was shelved for two years). She then waded through a series of supporting parts in small films before landing her big break on Ally McBeal (1997). Liu initially auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter, which went to 'Portia de Rossi', but writer-producer 'David E. Kelley' was so impressed with her spunk that he promised to write a part for her in an upcoming episode. The part turned out to be that of growling, ill-tempered lawyer Ling Woo, which Liu filled with such aplomb that she was signed on as a regular cast member.
The Ally win gave Liu's film career a much-needed boost--in 1999, she was cast as a dominatrix in the 'Mel Gibson' action flick Payback (1999), and as a hitchhiker in the ill-received boxing saga Play It to the Bone (1999). The next year brought even larger roles: first as the kidnapped Princess Pei Pei in Jackie Chan's western Shanghai Noon (2000), then as one-third of the comely crime-fighting trio in Charlie's Angels (2000) and the sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003).
Liu voiced "Silvermist" in Disney Fairies and Viper in Kung Fu Panda.
In March 2012, she was cast as "Joan Watson" for Elementary. Elementary is an American Sherlock Holmes adaption, and the role Liu was offered is traditionally played by men. She also has played police officer Jessica Tang on Southland, a television show focusing on the lives of police officers and detectives in Los Angeles as a recurring guest actor during the fourth season.
When she's not hissing at clients or throwing well-coiffed punches, Liu keeps busy with an eclectic mix of off-screen hobbies. She practices the martial art of Kali-Eskrima-Silat (knife-and-stick fighting), skis, rock climbs, rides horses, and plays the accordion. In 1993 she exhibited a collection of multimedia art pieces at the Cast Iron Gallery in SoHo (New York), after which she won a grant to study and create art in China. Her hectic schedule doesn't leave much time for romantic intrigue, but Liu says she prefers to keep that side of her life uncluttered.
- Is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, English, Italian, Spanish and a little Japanese.
- Chosen by Goldsea Asian American Daily as one of the "100 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time" (ranked #51).
- Was named a U.S. Fund for UNICEF Ambassador (2005).
- Graduated from New York's prestigious Stuyvesant High School (1986).
- Has had gallery exhibitions, showing her collage, paintings and photography.
- Is an initiated sister of Chi Omega Sorority.
- Was the first Asian-American female to host _"Saturday Night Live" (1975)_ (qv).
- She once worked as an aerobics instructor.