Born in Jackson Heights, New York, on 2 December 1968, the daughter of educated Chinese immigrants, she got the acting bug studying at the University of Michigan. She headed to Los Angeles upon graduation, working as a waitress between auditions. Her big break came in 1997 with Ally McBeal. She was eventually cast as the long-running character of cantankerous lawyer Ling Woo. A hugely successful movie career has followed with parts in the likes of Charlie's Angels, Kill Bill: Vol 1 and Elementary.