- Photo Name
- Talent Name
- Tzi Ma
Jin Shen in “Kung Fu”
Tzi Ma stars as Jin Shen, a San Francisco restaurant owner and father of the show’s heroine, Nicky Shen (played by Olivia Liang), on The CW’s “Kung Fu.”
For over four decades, Ma has blazed new trails for the representation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in Hollywood with a groundbreaking career that encompasses virtually every genre across film, television and theater.
From big budget blockbusters like the “Rush Hour” series to award-winning independent films like “Tigertail,” Ma’s unforgettable performances and uncanny versatility have garnered unanimous acclaim from critics and audiences around the world.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Staten Island, Ma worked at his family-owned restaurant while honing his craft in the New York theater scene. Despite limited opportunities for AAPI actors, Ma refused to perform roles he considered demeaning or stereotypical. During this period, he collaborated with then-emerging playwrights David Henry Hwang and Eric Overmyer; who both penned works specifically for Ma (“The Dance and the Railroad” and “In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe,” respectively.)
As a young adult, Ma was a ubiquitous presence in Manhattan’s Chinatown where he worked as a counselor specializing in at-risk youth. Ma also volunteered for various community organizations; most notably, the Basement Workshop, a collective of Chinese American artists and activists seeking to promote the arts and arts education in the neighborhood.
In 1978, Ma made his screen debut alongside Jack Palance and Andy Warhol in the cult classic “Cocaine Cowboys,” directed by Ulli Lommel. Throughout the 1980s, Ma continued to perform in regional and off-Broadway productions while appearing as a guest star on hit television programs like “The Equalizer,” “LA Law,” “MacGyver” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
Ma also became a ubiquitous presence at the multiplex with memorable roles in films like “Rapid Fire,” “Chain Reaction,” “Dante’s Peak,” and Rush Hour.
Since 2000, Ma has successfully balanced a prolific film and television career; appearing in movies like “The Quiet American,” “The Ladykillers,” “Rush Hour 3” and “Arrival” and playing recurring characters on popular shows like “24,” “American Dad!,” “Hell on Wheels,” “The Man in High Castle” and “Veep.”
In addition to his many high-profile projects, Ma has also been active in the world of independent cinema for over two decades; appearing in features and short films by up-and-coming AAPI and Asian directors. Notable works include Mina Shum’s “Meditation Park,” for which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell.”
Now entering his fifth decade in show business, Ma continues to challenge himself with diverse and unconventional roles. In 2020, he earned some of the best reviews of his career with his performance in Netflix’s “Tigertail,” in which he played a divorcee attempting to reconcile with his adult daughter. Later that year, Ma co-starred in Disney’s action-adventure “Mulan,” portraying the title character’s doting father. In 2021, he joined the cast of The CW’s “Kung Fu,” now in its third season.
Ma’s upcoming projects include the Amazon film “5 Blind Dates” and making his feature directorial debut with “Hanako,” a historical drama about Korea’s ‘comfort women’.
Geraldine Agoncillo818-977-2355 [email protected]
Judy Yam818-977-1021 [email protected]