Rae Dawn Chong

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Rae Dawn Chong
Born (1961-02-28) February 28, 1961 (age 63)[1]
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Years active1974–present
Owen Bayliss
(div. 1982)
(m. 1989; div. 1990)
Nathan Ulrich
(m. 2011; div. 2014)

Rae Dawn Chong (born February 28, 1961) is a Canadian-American actress. She made her big screen debut appearing in the 1978 musical drama film Stony Island, and in 1981 starred in the fantasy film Quest for Fire, for which she received the Genie Award for Best Actress.

Chong later starred in films Beat Street (1984), American Flyers (1985), The Color Purple (1985), Commando (1985), Soul Man (1986), The Principal (1987), Tales from the Darkside (1990), Time Runner (1993), and Boulevard (1994). She is the daughter of comedian and actor Tommy Chong.

Early life[edit]

Chong was born on February 28, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the first daughter of actor/comedian Tommy Chong.[1] Her father is of Chinese and Scots-Irish descent and her mother, Maxine Sneed, was of Black Canadian descent.[2][3] She also self-identifies as being of Cherokee descent through her mother.[4] Her younger sister Robbi Chong is a model and actress. They have three younger half-brothers (one adopted) and a half-sister by their father's second wife. In addition to Rae Dawn, two of her sisters and her adopted brother Marcus Chong have pursued acting careers.

Chong has said that her paternal grandfather left a poor village in China in the 1930s to live with an aunt in Vancouver, where Chinese immigrants were mostly sequestered in a small area due to racial discrimination, and that although he spoke Cantonese, he refused to teach it to his children or grandchildren. She said, "I think my grandfather had great racial shame, which was hard on us growing up. ... We grew up desperate to know anything about our Chinese culture." Later in life, though, her grandfather "saw the error of his ways and embraced his heritage."[5]


After acting in a few television roles, Chong's second feature film was Quest for Fire (1981), for which she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in 1983.[6] Other notable roles have been in the films Choose Me (1984), Beat Street (1984), The Color Purple (1985), and Commando (1985). She appeared with her father in Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers (1984) and Far Out Man (1990). In 1985, Chong played the love interest in Mick Jagger's video "Just Another Night".[7]

At 19 years old, Chris Pratt was waiting tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant in Maui when he was scouted by Chong; she cast him in her directorial debut, the short horror film Cursed Part 3, which was filmed in Los Angeles in 2000.[8][9][10]

On television, Chong starred opposite Adrian Pasdar in the science fiction drama series Mysterious Ways from 2000 to 2002. later she starred in the first season of Lifetime comedy-drama series Wild Card opposite Joely Fisher. The following years, she appeared in a number of independent movies. She returned to television appearing in two episodes of Better Things in 2016, and two episodes of 9-1-1 (2018-19). In 2021, she played Betty Currie in the FX series Impeachment: American Crime Story.[11][12]

In 2021, Chong was honored with the "Invisible Woman Award" from the Women Film Critics Circle for "Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored" for her performance in the drama film The Sleeping Negro.[13][14]

In 2022, Chong portrayed Florence de Pointe du Lac in the AMC series Interview with the Vampire.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Chong married Owen Baylis, a stockbroker, and they had a son named Morgan. They divorced in 1982.[16] In 1989, she married actor C. Thomas Howell, her co-star in the feature film Soul Man. They divorced in 1990.[16] In 2011, Chong married Nathan Ulrich (one of the founders of Xootr). They divorced in 2014.[citation needed]

Pop culture references[edit]

British-American rapper-producer MF DOOM recorded a song titled "Rae Dawn". It was released under the alias Viktor Vaughn, as a single from his third studio album Vaudeville Villain (some releases list the title as "Raedawn"). The reference to Chong appears in the lyrics: "New drink, named it after Chong daughter".[17]

Rapper Redman mentions Chong in his 1994 song "Winicumuhround".

Comedian Stephen Lynch also has a song about Chong—"R.D.C. (Opie's Lament)"—as the 12th track on his 2000 debut album A Little Bit Special.



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Stony Island Janetta
1980 Top of the Hill Rita TV movie
1981 Quest for Fire Ika Genie Award for Best Actress
1984 Beat Street Tracy Carlson
Choose Me Pearl Antoine
Fear City Leila
Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers The Gypsy
1985 City Limits Yogi
American Flyers Sarah
Commando Cindy
Badge of the Assassin Christine Horn TV movie
The Color Purple Squeak
Running Out of Luck Slave Girl
1986 Soul Man Sarah Walker
1987 The Squeeze Rachel Dobs
The Principal Hilary Orozco
1989 Rude Awakening Marlene
1990 Denial Julie
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie Carola
Curiosity Kills Jane TV movie
Amazon Paola
Far Out Man Herself
1991 Prison Stories: Women on the Inside Rhonda TV movie
The Borrower Diana Pierce
Chaindance Ilene Curtis
1992 When the Party's Over M.J.
1993 Time Runner Karen Donaldson
Father & Son: Dangerous Relations Yvonne TV movie
1994 Boulevard Ola
Boca J.J.
Amberwaves Misty
1995 Hideaway Rose Orwetto
Power of Attorney Joan Armstrong Video
The Break Jennifer Hudson
Crying Freeman Detective Forge
1996 Mask of Death Cassandra Turner
Starlight Arianna
Small Time The Woman
For Hope Woman at Bar TV movie
1997 Alibi D.A. Linda Garcia TV movie
Highball Herself
Goodbye America Danzig
1998 Valentine's Day Sally Video
1999 Cosas que olvidé recordar Mary
2000 Dangerous Attraction Ann Rich
The Visit Felicia
2005 Constellation Jenita
2006 Max Havoc: Ring of Fire Sister Caroline
Deadly Skies Madison Taylor TV movie
2010 Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer Vivian
Etta, Kit, and Grace Etta Video Short
2011 Jeff, Who Lives at Home Carol
2012 Shiver Detective Burdine
Pegasus vs. Chimera Mayda TV movie
2013 Mud Lotus Kim Short
2014 Knock 'em Dead Jenny Logan
2015 Drizzle Of Hope Ms. Johnson Short
2017 Five Minutes Delores Short
2018 Reborn Dory Ryder
2021 The Sleeping Negro Black Woman Women Film Critics Circle Invisible Woman Award[18]
2022 We Are Gathered Here Today Mary Reed
TBA Street Signs: Homeless But Not Hopeless Narrator Voice
TBA The Raven Nurse Virginia


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Greta Episode: "The Whiz Kid and the Mystery at Riverton: Part 1 & 2"
1980 Lou Grant Adrienne Episode: "Lou"
1983–85 St. Elsewhere Billie Vaughn Guest: Seasons 1 & 3; Recurring cast: season 2
1986 Tall Tales & Legends Circe Lafemme Episode: "Casey at the Bat"
1991 The Hitchhiker Leesa White Episode: "New Blood"
1992 Nitecap Herself/host TV series
1992–93 Melrose Place Carrie Fellows Recurring cast: Season 1
1994 Lonesome Dove: The Series May Lawson Episode: "Firebrand"
1995 The Outer Limits Karen Heatherton Episode: "Second Soul"
1996 Highlander: The Series Claudia Jardine Episode: "Timeless"
1997 Poltergeist: The Legacy Tanya Moreau Episodes: "Lights Out!" & "Spirit Thief"
2000–02 Mysterious Ways Dr. Peggy Fowler Main cast [19]
2002 Judging Amy Atty. Westland Episode: "A Pretty Good Day"
2003–04 Wild Card Sophie Mason Main cast: season 1
2007 That's So Raven Lynn Thomas Episode: "The Way They Were"
2016 Better Things Patty Donner Episode: "Period" & "Only Women Bleed"
2018–19 9-1-1 Stacey Mullins Episode: "Hen Begins" & "Fallout"
2019 My Sister Is So Gay Parker Episode: "X Boyfriends" & "I Love You Nut-Nut"
2021 Impeachment: American Crime Story Betty Currie Recurring cast
Saturday Morning All Star Hits! Sheena Murphy Recurring cast
2022 Interview with the Vampire Florence de Pointe du Lac Recurring cast (4 episodes)


  1. ^ a b "Rae Dawn Chong | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  2. ^ "Newsweek". Newsweek, Incorporated. February 8, 1972 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Growing Up a Chong : AsianWeek". June 9, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09.
  4. ^ "Rae Dawn Chong in the Hot Seat". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2024-01-16.
  5. ^ Pratt, Paul E. "Growing Up a Chong" Archived 2010-06-09 at the Wayback Machine, AsianWeek, 18 November 2005.
  6. ^ Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television official website Archived 2010-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, last accessed October 22, 2007
  7. ^ Spitz, Marc (2011). Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue. Gotham Books. ISBN 9781101552131.
  8. ^ Collis, Clark (July 11, 2014). "How Chris Pratt Went from Zero to Hero". Entertainment Weekly. pp. 24–31. Archived from the original on February 2, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "Chris Pratt: Biography". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  10. ^ Hulten, Kevin (August 29, 2007). "Lake's Chris Pratt found success in Hollywood, and now he plans on bringing it home". Lake Stevens Journal. Archived from the original on January 26, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  11. ^ "The women of 'Impeachment' explained: Betty Currie, omnipresent Clinton aide". Los Angeles Times. November 10, 2021.
  12. ^ "Meet the cast of Impeachment: American Crime Story and their real-life counterparts". Radio Times.
  13. ^ Benardello, Karen (2021-12-13). "Women Film Critics Circle Honors Passing and The Power of the Dog Amongst 2021's Best Movies". Shockya.com. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  14. ^ "The Sleeping Negro". Rotten Tomatoes.
  15. ^ Franich, Darren (September 22, 2022). "A century of subtext comes out of the coffin in AMC's Interview with the Vampire". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 2, 2022.
  16. ^ a b Rae Dawn Chong Biography (1961-), JRank, Film Reference, accessed 10 May 2017
  17. ^ "New drink, named it after Chong daughter".
  18. ^ Hanson, Mark (2021-11-30). "Review: The Sleeping Negro Headily Wrestles with the Roots of Black Hopelessness". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  19. ^ "VisionTV". www.visiontv.ca. Archived from the original on September 26, 2009.

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