Kelly Hu biography 2022

Actress Kelly Hu

Kelly Hu biography

Kelly Hu was born February 13, 1968, in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Her parents divorced when she was six years old, and, living with her mother, Juanita, Kelly benefited from an upbringing as diversified as her background.

While her mother enrolled her in ballet classes and the Sears Charm School, Kelly indulged in other interests on the side, taking karate lessons from her older brother.

By age thirteen, she decided to pursue a modeling career, and her fighting skills were sufficiently developed for her brother to make some quick cash betting on her bouts with neighborhood kids. This blend of beauty and martial-arts skills determined her path.

At the age of fifteen, hoping to give an early boost to her modeling career, she entered the Miss Teen Hawaii pageant. The results exceeded her expectations, as she went on to win the pageant and qualify for the national competition.

In 1985, She won Miss Teen USA, becoming the first Asian American to do so. Kelly's victory afforded her a bit of fame and, with it, several opportunities.

Kelly Hu made her acting debut in a season premiere of Growing Pains, playing Kirk Cameron's love interest, inciting jealousy and rage amongst millions of teenage girls. After graduating high school, Kelly left Hawaii to model in Japan and Italy.

Kelly Hu returned from overseas five months later, determined to pick up where she had left off -- in pursuit of an acting career. She had $75,000 at her disposal (her winnings from the Miss Teen USA pageant, along with a Mazda RX-7 and a speedboat), which she invested toward moving to Los Angeles. When Kelly arrived in LA, she was the portrait of youthful naiveté, convinced that superstardom was just around the corner.

Her first order of business was taking out a full-page ad in Variety announcing her availability for "West Coast representation." Kelly's arrival didn't have the impact she envisioned, and although she got several calls from agents, hers wasn't the name on everyone's lips. Kelly did manage to land roles, which is more than your average Hollywood waitress can boast.

Kelly Hu appeared in a string of commercials, from Bud Light to Ivory soap, and a random assortment of TV programs and movies, including 21 Jump Street, Night Court, and a role as one of Jason's victims in Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Kelly returned to the pageant circuit in 1993, winning the title of Miss Hawaii and qualifying as a Miss USA finalist.

She then returned to LA to resume her somewhat sporadic career, appearing alongside Leslie Nielsen in Surf Ninjas and as the girl who tends to a vomiting Meg Ryan in The Doors.

Throughout Kelly Hu's trials in Hollywood, Kelly continued her martial arts training. Her talents in this field helped her land her first recurring role in 1997 in the action series Nash Bridges. Kelly found more regular work on the daytime soap Sunset Beach, although her character was written off that same year.

In 1998, Kelly earned her brown belt in karate and was offered a role in a kung fu cop series, Martial Law. The critical reception to the show wasn't entirely warm. The program did win the loyal following of several viewers, who seemed inclined toward Kelly's character, Detective Grace Chen.

Kelly shared top billing in the credits by the series' second season. Yet even as her popularity increased, the show's ratings plummeted. Shortly after Arsenio Hall was cast into a regular role (a move that some may have cited as the kiss of death for the series), Martial Law was canceled.

Martial Law may have been a failure from its producers' perspective, but the program did wonders for Kelly Hu. She soon became a staple in men's magazines after showcasing her beauty and fighting abilities to a television audience.

Kelly Hu has achieved visibility without any hit series or movies under her belt. She'll be starring alongside The Rock in the 2002 feature, The Scorpion King.

last updated October 2022

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