Anna May Wong: The Chinese American Star From Silent Films To TV
From the time she was a young girl growing up in Los Angeles, Anna May Wong knew that she wanted to become an actress. To do so, she would have to work around the racism that plagued America, and to remain an actress, she would have to manage the transition from silent films to talkies.
As the second-generation daughter of Taishanese Chinese immigrants, she lived a block away from Chinatown for the first five years of her life, while her father, Wong Sam Sing, ran the Sam Kee Laundry in Chinatown. When Wong attended Chinese-language school in Chinatown, she often skipped school to attend the movie shoots in Chinatown, and she spent the tip money she earned delivering laundry for her father on trips to the movies. By the time she was 11, she came up with her stage name, and by 1919, when she was 14, she was in her first film as an uncredited extra in The Red Lantern, although she did not have a credited role for the next two years.