Kelly Hu is an American actress and voice-over artist who started her career in showbiz after participating in the 1993 Miss USA pageant. The former model is an avid poker player and trained martial arts practitioner, who holds a Black Belt in Kanzen Budo Kai karate. This explains why she has been a preferred choice for a number of action-oriented roles. Hu’s cousin, who was a successful model in Japan, encouraged her to pursue a career in the glamour industry. After a short stint in modeling during her vacation, Hu started participating in beauty contests, eventually winning the Miss Hawaii USA title in 1993. Being the first Asian-American to win the contest gave Hu a lot of positive attention and helped her launch a career in acting. Her first major role came in the form of Dr. Rae Chang in the television soap opera ‘Sunset Beach’ in 1997. Since then, she has appeared in numerous television series and movies. She has acted alongside several Hollywood stars, including Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Jet Li and Steven Brand. As of 2019, Hu is shooting for a movie titled ‘Go Back to China’.
Childhood & Early Life
Kelly Ann Hu was born to Juanita Perez and Herbert Hu on 13 February 1968 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her mother was a technical drafter and father was a salesman. They were of Hawaiian and Chinese-English ancestry respectively. Her parents got divorced when she was a child. Her only brother Glenn works for the United States Army.
Hu went to Ma’ema’e Elementary school in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later, she finished her high-school from Kamehameha Schools in the same city.
According to her mother, Hu displayed an inclination towards performing arts at a very young age. As a result of her deep passion for music and dance, her mother enrolled her in a dance school at the age of five, where she learned ballet and acrobats.
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Kelly Hu’s journey to stardom began when she won the Miss Hawaii Teen USA beauty pageant. Later in 1985, she competed and won the Miss Teen USA title.
In her early days, Hu modeled for television advertisements. The Philadelphia cream cheese advertisement in which she plays the role of a young Japanese student was one of her earliest modeling assignments.
In 1987, Hu moved to Los Angeles where she got her first acting break in a guest role in the TV series ‘Growing Pains’. This was followed by her appearances in many more TV series, such as ‘21 Jump Street’ and ‘Melrose Place’.
In 1989, she debuted on the big screen with a role in the movie ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan’. In the following years, she made appearances in movies like ‘The Doors’ and ‘Surf Ninjas’.
In 1993, Hu was crowned ‘Miss Hawaii USA’, becoming the first Asian-American winner in the history of the pageant. Later that year, she participated in the 1993 Miss USA contest, but was eliminated in the final round.
Hu bagged the role of an undercover police officer in the 1995 movie ‘No Way Back’, starring alongside Russel Crowe. Subsequently, she was cast as a police officer in various TV series namely, ‘Nash Bridges’ and ‘Martial Law’. In 2004, she appeared in the last few episodes of the series ‘Threat Matrix’ as Agent Lia Chen.
In the 2009 comic anthology ‘Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology’, Hu develop the character of Jia. The comic series told short graphic stories on certain Historical events of America.
In 2010, she appeared in guest roles on series ‘NCIS’, ‘NCIS Los Angles’ and ‘Vampire Diaries’. She had a recurring role in the police procedural TV show ‘Hawaii Five-0’ between 2010 and 2011.
Hu is also a voice artist who has lent her voice to many video games, including ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II the Sith Lords’ and ‘Batman: Arkham Origins’. In the video game ‘Battlefield Hardline’, the character named Khai Minh Dao has been given the face and voice of Kelly Hu.
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The Scorpio King (2002) was one of Kelly Hu’s most popular movies. It was a fantasy thriller, wherein she played the role of Cassandra, a sorcerer who predicts the outcome of battles.
X-Men 2 (2002) was the second movie of the hugely successful X-Men series, in which Hu starred alongside Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. She played the role of a female mutant who is controlled by Stryker and has healing abilities.
In 2003, Hu appeared in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave’, an action thriller movie in which she essayed the character of Sona. In this movie, she starred with Jet Li.
Awards and Achievements
Kelly Hu is one of the few actresses to have undertaken a substantial number of action roles, and she has won an Action Icon Award (2012) for the same.
She is the first Asian-American to appear on the cover of Maxim Magazine.
Family & Personal Life
Kelly Hu is currently single and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Hu has never been married although she had a few serious relationships. She dated Ahmad Ali Moussaul, an investment banker, for a few years before they parted ways in 1996. She was in a long-term relationship with the record producer and songwriter, Mitch Allan, before they broke up.
In several interviews, Hu has explained that although she loves children, she is childless by choice.
Kelly Hu is an avid poker fan and has taken part in many competitions, including the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.