Ming-Na Wen and Liu Yifei: The Disney's Mulan Girls

Get to know both the talented girls behind Disney’s Mulan

By Diana Nadim
Ming-Na Wen and Liu Yifei: The Disney's Mulan Girls

Ming-Na Wen: The Voice Behind the Animated Mulan (1998 Film)

Ming-Na Wen is an American actress who is well known for her roles as Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and as the Disney Princess, Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II.

Liu Yifei is a Chinese American Actress, singer, and Model. She is well known as the Fairy sister in the entertainment industry for her sweet and delicate image. 

The 50 Years old Ming-Na Wen provided the voice For Mulan in 1998 and it's direct to video sequel Mulan II in 2004. Mulan is a Disney original which had initially conceived Mulan as an oppressed young Chinese Woman who later fled to Europe to be with a British prince. However, the director felt that Mulan was to be a different and unique kind of Disney heroine. He wanted her to be strong and independent and whose fate was not to be dependent upon a male character. The reception towards Mulan has been positive all through. 

Ming-Na Wen voiced the character, but the singing voice was Lea Salonga’s.

Her Early Life And Breakthrough To Mulan

Wen was born on November 20, 1963, in Coloane. Her parents divorced when she was an infant, and she moved with her mother. When she was four years old, the family moved to New York City. They later moved to Pennsylvania where they opened The Chinatown Inn restaurant. She Attended Mount Lebanon High School and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1986.

Her first television role was in the television series Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood in 1985. He then played the role of Lien Hughes in the soap opera As the World Turns. She did not stop there, she starred in the acclaimed 1993 film The Joy Luck Club, and later she landed a role in the NBC drama series ER until midway through season 11 in 2004.

Wen was also a star in the film Street Fighter as Chun-Li and on a sitcom the Single Guy from 1995 to 1997. In 1998, she landed the lead role of La Mulan in the animated film Mulan and the sequel Milan II as a Disney princess. She also voiced the Video game Kingdom hearts II, subsequently winning an Annie Award.

Her Current Status

In December 2017, Marvel Entertainment launched a new animation Marvel Rising: Secret Warrior. Wen Voiced Hala the Accuser, who is the main antagonist of the film and works for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that same year, she once again provided the voice of Mulan in Ralph breaks the internet. At the 2019 D23 Expo, she was named a Disney legend for her amazing contributions to the Disney Company. It was also announced that she’s going to be a cast member of the Star Wars TV Series, The Mandalorian.

This will make her the only actress who has appeared in all three of Disney's most lucrative properties. She has been nominated for many awards through the years and won two which are the Annie Award in 1998 and TV Line’s Performer of the Week Award for her performance in Melinda. In 1990, Wen married Kirk Aanes who they later broke up, and in 1995, she married her second husband Eric Michael Zee whom they have two kids together. Her daughter followed her mother’s footsteps, and she is the voice of Princess Jun in the Disney Channel animated series, Sofia the First.

Liu Yifei: The Actor For Live Mulan Movie In 2020

Liu is set to play the lead as Mulan in Disney's live-action adaptation of Mulan, which is set to be released in 2020. She got the part after topping almost a thousand people who have shown up for the same opportunity. Disney's action movie remakes have faced some level of controversy, but none has been garnered as much as the remake of Mulan. This became a big center of a firestorm after she expressed support for the Hong Kong Police Force and its actions towards the ongoing protest. This led to the #BoycottMulan campaign.

While Disney has remained silent in this matter, Liu made another controversial comment when she posted on Webio, "If you are not like-minded, you can leave." This comment, however, was about some disagreements she was having in her professional life.

Her Early Life And Breakthrough To Mulan

Liu Yifei was born in Wuhan, and her birth name was An Feng. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old and she was raised only by her mother. That year, she adopted her mother’s family name and changed her name to Liu Ximeizi. Later she began her modeling. She also trained in singing and dancing and playing the piano. At the age of 10, they moved to New York City, where she attended Louis Pasteur Middle School. She then returned to China in 2002 to pursue an acting career, and here she changed her name to Liu Yifei.

After her return to China, she was accepted into the performance institute of Beijing Film Academy, and this is when she started receiving offers to star in different television series. Her first television appearance was in the romance drama The Story of a Noble Family in 2003. Due to the good performance of this series, she was chosen to play the role of Wang Yuyan in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, which is an adaptation of Louis Cha’s novel of the same title.

In 2005, Yifei starred in a fantasy action drama adapted from a role-playing game the legend of Swords and Fairy. This adaptation was called Chinese Paladin. During this year, she signed in with Sony Music Entertainment Japan. A year later, she released a Chinese language Album and a Japanese Language Album. Her Single “Mayonaka no Doa” was the ending theme to the first 13 episodes of Power-puff Girls Z, A Japanese anime series based on the popular American show power puff girls.

Being successful in television, Liu ventured into the big screen in 2007 where she was cast in her first Hollywood production, the forbidden Kingdom, where she played the role of Golden Sparrow. She then starred in a romantic comedy Love in Disguise in 2010. In 2011, Liu starred in some major productions such as A Chinese Ghost Story, White Vengeance and the four which made her subsequently reprise her roles in the other two.

She later won her first major award in 2012 in her 11-year career as the best actress award at the 5th Macau International Movie Festival for her role in The Assassins. In 2017, Liu Starred in a romantic fantasy film Once Upon a Time and also in a historical film The Chinese Widow. The same year she reunited with a costar from White Vengeance in the fantasy comedy film, Hanson and the Beast.

In November 2017, Disney announced that they were determined to find a young Chinese Actress and that way she was cast as Fa Mulan in the live adaptation of the 1998 Disney Animated film which is set to be released in 2020. She beat a thousand other girls and landed the spot even though she had never worked with Disney before, and this will be an excellent opportunity for her.

Her Current Status

In 2017, it was announced that Liu would star in a fantasy mystery television series thus making her come back to the small screen after 12 years. Despite the backlash he faced with the considerable controversy by people who considered her comments unsupportive of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, Disney did not say anything about this matter. The leading calls online to Boycott the release of Mulan have not affected anything. The actress also dated South Korean Actor Song Seung Heon from 2015 to 2018. They said that their break up was as a result of having their busy schedules.

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Recently, Ming-Na Wen posted her take on the new live-action adaptation teaser on twitter calling it epic. This shows that she was quite pleased by the production. She also wrote that she was excited to see this Mulan and also added that "Yifei Liu looks amazing as a warrior." Regarding the controversy that arose with Liu's comments, Ming stated that "we are living in a world right now where there are so much change and confusion and lot of stress," adding that, " I hope that there are good resolution and peace and people will find a way."