Hong Chau

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Hong Chau
Hong Chau 2016.jpg
Chau in 2016
Born1979 (age 40–41)
Alma materBoston University
Years active2006–present
Home townNew Orleans, Louisiana, US

Hong Chau[nb 1] (born 1979) is an American actress whose breakthrough was her supporting role in the 2017 film Downsizing as Vietnamese amputee and political activist Ngoc Lan Tran. For her performance, she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, and several other awards.

Before Downsizing, she appeared in the television series Treme (2010–2013) and the film Inherent Vice (2014).[2] In 2018, she appeared as a guest star in several TV series. In 2019, she played a supporting role in the TV limited series Watchmen. She also had leading roles in the 2019 films American Woman and Driveways, and for the latter, she was nominated for Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. In 2020, she had a starring role in the second season of the TV series Homecoming, having had a supporting role in its first season in 2018, and voiced Opal Koboi in Artemis Fowl.

Chau was born to Vietnamese parents who lived in a refugee camp in Thailand after fleeing Vietnam in the late 1970s. A Vietnamese Catholic church in New Orleans, Louisiana arranged for a family to sponsor Chau and her family. After growing up in New Orleans, Chau majored in film studies at Boston University and pursued an acting career.

Early life[edit]

Before Hong Chau was born, her parents and their two sons were living in Vietnam.[3] In 1979, the family was among the Vietnamese boat people who fled their country, and Chau's mother was six months pregnant with her.[4] During their escape, Chau's father was shot and nearly bled to death.[3] Chau was born in a refugee camp in Thailand later in the year.[5] A Vietnamese Catholic church in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States organized for a local Vietnamese family to sponsor her family. Chau grew up speaking Vietnamese as her first language, and later learned English in school.[6] Her family lived in government housing and used subsidized lunch programs.[3]

Chau was raised in the eastern part of New Orleans, where she attended Eleanor McMain Secondary School and Ben Franklin Senior High School. She finished at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in Natchitoches, Louisiana.[7] Her parents worked in menial labor to ensure that the children could attend college.[8] Chau said her parents, who speak in heavy Vietnamese accents, were shunned as Asian migrants. She said, "My whole life, I've always felt like I was the more acceptable of my parents, and they were always the people who had to stay in the background, or hide in the broom closet."[8]

Receiving student financial aid in the form of Pell Grants,[9] Chau attended Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts,[7] where she initially studied creative writing. She changed her major to film studies when her parents requested that she study something more practical. She explored acting to challenge her introvertedness;[10] she acted in other students' short films and was encouraged to pursue acting.[11] After college, Chau got a job with PBS and anticipated a career in documentaries.[10] She later moved to New York City, where she studied acting.[7]


2006–2017: Early work and breakthrough with Downsizing[edit]

Chau began acting in film and television in 2006.[12] One of her first major roles was in the TV series Treme (2010–2013), which was set in New Orleans.[2] Her first feature film role was in the 2014 film Inherent Vice.[13] For two years after her role, she was not able to get an audition for another film role.[3] In 2015, she had a key role in the Off-Broadway play John, written by Annie Baker and directed by Sam Gold. Chau acted with three others, including Georgia Engel and Lois Smith,[3] and Chau credited the experience for strengthening her acting. She also had a supporting role in the 2017 premiere season of the TV miniseries Big Little Lies alongside Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.[14] She subsequently appeared in the 2017 film Downsizing,[13] for which her performance was described as a standout by several reviews.[15] She was nominated for several awards for best supporting actress (see accolades).[16] Some criticized her character Ngoc Lan Tran as stereotypical because Chau spoke in broken English, but Chau said that she found her character "so multifaceted and complex and well-written".[13]

2018–present: Further success and leading roles[edit]

Following Downsizing, Chau appeared in guest roles in several TV series in 2018, including BoJack Horseman and Forever.[17] She had a supporting role as a corporate secretary in the first season of the TV series Homecoming.[18] The Ringer's Alison Herman said another actor would have sought to accumulate more recurring roles on TV series. Herman said, "In the Peak TV Era, Chau opted for something much savvier: taking some choice guest parts in a few critically acclaimed TV shows ... Chau benefits from these shows' prestige; the shows benefit from her talents."[17] In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter's Rebecca Sun said since Downsizing, "Chau has appeared in a series of critically acclaimed projects."[19]

Chau had her first leading roles in the films Driveways and American Woman, both released at film festivals in 2019.[20] For Driveways, Chau was familiar with director Andrew Ahn's previous film Spa Night, recognized his name when he contacted her with an offer for the role, and readily accepted the offer.[21] Also in 2019, Chau appeared in the TV limited series Watchmen as the trillionaire Lady Trieu,[22] whose performance The Hollywood Reporter's TV critic Tim Goodman said was one of the series' "exceptional, memorable performances".[19] Following the 2020 video-on-demand release of Driveways, Rolling Stone's Maria Fontoura wrote that Chau has a "cool tenacity" in her roles. Fontoura said, "Whether she's playing a mysterious mogul, a secretive secretary, or a grieving single mother, the actress is steely, whip-smart, and deceptively powerful."[3]

In May 2020, Chau had a larger role in Homecoming's second season, in which she moves from secretary to a person in charge in the series's featured corporation. Entertainment Tonight's Stacy Lambe said Chau "has become something of a scene stealer over the years". Lambe said, "What's notable about most of her projects is that they feature a diverse cast of actors of color who get to shine in unexpected ways," highlighting Treme, Watchmen, and Homecoming.[23] Chau appeared in the film Artemis Fowl, which premiered on Disney+ in June 2020.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Chau has two older brothers. She lives in Los Angeles, California. She has a dog, a Rottweiler-Australian Shepherd mix.[3]


Chau's film roles
Year Title Role Notes
2014 Inherent Vice Jade
2017 Downsizing Ngoc Lan Tran
2018 Duck Butter Glow
2019 Driveways Kathy
American Woman Jenny Shimada
2020 Artemis Fowl Opal Koboi Uncredited[25]
Chau's television roles
Year(s) Title Role Notes
2006 Finding My America Minh Episode: "The Road Trip Begins"
2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Asian Masseuse Episode: "Patriot Tact"
2010 How I Met Your Mother Cook Pu Episode: "Perfect Week"
Trenches Spc. Wing Main role; 10 episodes
NCIS F.B.I. Lab Tech Molly Choi Episode: "Jurisdiction"
My Boys Audrey Episode: "Puss 'N' Glutes"
$h*! My Dad Says DJ Episode: "Code Ed"
2011–2013 Treme Linh 13 episodes
2012 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Julie Blanch Episode: "Ms. Willows Regrets"
Good Luck Charlie Theresa Episode: "Welcome Home"
2014–2015 A to Z Lora Main role; 13 episodes
2017 Big Little Lies Jackie 6 episodes
American Dad! Korean Spy (voice) Episode: "Casino Normale"
2018 BoJack Horseman Pickles Aplenty (voice) 5 episodes[nb 2]
Forever Sarah Episode: "Andre and Sarah"
2018–2020 Homecoming Audrey Temple Main role; 11 episodes
2019 Watchmen Lady Trieu Main role; 4 episodes
Chau's stage roles
Year Title Role Notes
2015 John Jenny Off-Broadway


For her role in Downsizing, Chau was nominated for several awards for best supporting actress, including Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.[16] Considered a probable nominee for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 90th Academy Awards, she was not nominated. USA Today's Andrea Mandell said, "Hong Chau was snubbed ... a nomination many had assumed was a lock given the strength of her performance as a Vietnamese refugee."[27]

Accolades received by Chau
Year Film Award Ceremony Result Ref.
2014 Inherent Vice Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award[nb 3] 30th ceremony Won [28]
2017 Downsizing Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress 23rd ceremony Nominated [29]
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress 2017 ceremony Nominated [30]
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture 75th ceremony Nominated [31]
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award[nb 4] 2018 ceremony Honored [32]
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role 24th ceremony Nominated [33]
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress 2017 ceremony Nominated [34]
2019 Driveways Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead 35th ceremony Nominated [35]
2020 Maverick Spirit Award from Cinequest Film Festival[nb 5] 30th ceremony Honored [37]


  1. ^ Vietnamese: Hồng Châu[1]
  2. ^ In 2019, Julia Chan replaced Chau in voicing Pickles Aplenty.[26]
  3. ^ The Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award is presented to the ensemble cast, director, and casting director of a film.
  4. ^ Per Variety, "The Virtuosos Award is given annually to artists who have distinguished themselves through breakthrough performances in film."[32]
  5. ^ Cinequest Film Festival describes the award, "The Maverick Award, recognizes bold, visionary and creative forces—exemplary in the worlds of Silicon Valley innovation and the creative arts. Its Maverick Spirit Awards recognizes artists..."[36]


  1. ^ "Hành trình tới Hollywood của diễn viên Mỹ gốc Việt Hồng Châu". An nhân dân điện. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Ford, Rebecca (September 5, 2017). "Hollywood's Next Big Thing: 'Downsizing' Breakout Hong Chau on Asian Typecasting and Working With Matt Damon". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Fontoura, Maria (May 15, 2020). "Hong Chau's True Grit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  4. ^ Ryan, Patrick (December 21, 2017). "Awards breakout Hong Chau brings her personal history as a refugee to 'Downsizing'". USA Today. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  5. ^ Brown, Jacob (November 13, 2017). "Hong Chau is a rising star on a miniature scale". Interview. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  6. ^ Gugliemi, Jodi (January 5, 2018). "Five Things to Know About Downsizing Star and Golden Globe Nominee Hong Chau". People. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Walker, Dave (November 18, 2012). "Actress Hong Chau brings New Orleans background to role as 'Treme's' Linh". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Vlessing, Etan (September 10, 2017). "Toronto: 'Downsizing' Star Says Asian Typecasting 'Pushed Aside' Refugee Parents". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  9. ^ Rosen, Lisa (December 21, 2017). "Playing an Asian activist with a disability in 'Downsizing,' Hong Chau hopes to see more diversity in films". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Nobil, Taryn (December 8, 2017). "'Downsizing' Star Hong Chau Turned to Acting to 'Burst Out of My Introvertedness'". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  11. ^ Riley, Jenelle (October 4, 2017). "10 Actors to Watch: Hong Chau Steals Scenes in 'Downsizing'". Variety. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  12. ^ Chi, Paul (December 19, 2017). "Downsizing's Hong Chau Knows the Secret to Getting Through Awards Season". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Yamato, Jen (November 3, 2017). "Hong Chau is poised to break big in 'Downsizing,' her second film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  14. ^ Fretts, Bruce (December 25, 2017). "'Downsizing' Actress Breaks Through, for Better and Worse". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 27, 2017). "'Downsizing' Breakout Hong Chau to Star in Patty Hearst Movie 'American Woman' (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (January 11, 2019). "'Watchmen': Hong Chau Joins Cast Of HBO Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Herman, Alison (December 13, 2018). "Best Guest Star: Hong Chau". The Ringer. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  18. ^ Petski, Denise (March 14, 2018). "'Homecoming': Shea Whigham, Hong Chau, Jeremy Allen White & Sydney Poitier Join Julia Roberts Amazon Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Sun, Rebecca (November 11, 2019). "Hong Chau Signs With ICM Partners (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  20. ^ Lambe, Stacy (April 26, 2019). "Hong Chau on Taking the Lead and Why She Hasn't Watched Her Acclaimed 'Forever' Episode (Exclusive)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Lawson, Richard (May 1, 2020). "Is This the Most Prescient Oscar Winner of All Time?". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Burton, Bonnie (September 13, 2019). "HBO's Watchmen better give me realism -- and maybe a giant squid". CNET. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Lambe, Stacy (May 21, 2020). "'Homecoming': How a Leap of Faith Paid Off for Hong Chau in Season 2 (Exclusive)". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  24. ^ Hemmert, Kyle (April 3, 2020). "Kenneth Branagh's Artemis Fowl Goes Straight to Disney+". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  25. ^ Rooney, David (June 11, 2020). "'Artemis Fowl': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  26. ^ Chappell, Les (October 26, 2019). "A 'Surprise!' party on BoJack Horseman is at its best on the sidelines". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  27. ^ Mandell, Andrea (January 23, 2018). "Oscars nominations 2018: Not so white, but Latinos and Asians are missing". USA Today. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "Inherent Vice: Nominated for Robert Altman Award". Film Independent. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  29. ^ Hammond, Pete (December 6, 2017). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads With 14; Netflix Tops TV Contenders". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  30. ^ "'The Shape of Water' Leads 2017 Florida Film Critics Awards Nominations". Florida Film Critics Circle. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  31. ^ France, Lisa Respers (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe nominations 2018: The list". cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  32. ^ a b Rubin, Rebecca (November 29, 2017). "Gal Gadot, Kumail Nanjiani, Timothee Chalamet Among Recipients for Virtuosos Award at Santa Barbara Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved February 6, 2018. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has tapped Daniel Kaluuya, Gal Gadot, Hong Chau, John Boyega, Kumail Nanjiani, Mary J. Blige, and Timothée Chalamet for this year’s Virtuosos Award.
  33. ^ Staff (December 13, 2017). "2018 SAG Award Nominations: See the Full List". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  34. ^ Stone, Sasha (December 11, 2017). "The Shape of Water Leads St Louis". awardsdaily.com. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  35. ^ Staff (February 8, 2020). "Spirit Awards Winners: The Complete List". Variety. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  36. ^ "Our Vision". cinequest.org. Cinequest Film Festival. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  37. ^ Pizarro, Sal (January 23, 2020). "Cinequest announces big lineup for 30th annual festival". The Mercury News. Retrieved January 25, 2020.

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