Youíve probably seen her in one of your favorite teen hits like ďLike MikeĒ or the comedy-mystery ďGet A ClueĒ where she starred alongside Lindsay Lohan.
Or perhaps youíve seen her in the Disney Channelís current hit sitcom, ďThe Suite Life of Zack and CodyĒ where she plays a spoiled hotel heiress named ďLondonĒ.
Chances are youíve seen Brenda Song dozens of times, but did you know that this teen sensation is Hmong?
Yes, Song is her real last name. Her grandparents, from the Xiong clan, chose to spell it that way when they came to America.
Often mistaken for either being Chinese or Korean, Brenda is proud of her Hmong and Thai heritage and continues to partake in activities within the Hmong community whenever she can find the time.
Born and raised in the Sacramento area, Brenda and her family go back each winter for the Hmong New Year.
Now residing in the Los Angeles area where she and her family have lived since she was nine-years-old, Brenda has come a long, long way since her first break in the showbiz world when she was cast for a ďLittle Caesar PizzaĒ commercial.
She was kind enough to take a break from shooting on the set of her current project, ďThe Suite Life of Zack and CodyĒ to speak with us via telephone:
Hmong Today: What do you consider yourself, Hmong or Asian?
Brenda Song: Weíre all Americans, really. I think thatís why thereís so much division and turmoil sometimes, because people are always categorizing each other. Iím proud to be Hmong, but Iím more focused on being American.
In this business, it doesnít matter what culture you are from.
HT: Do you still speak Hmong?
BS: My dad makes us (brothers Timmy, 15, and Nathan, 9) speak Hmong at home because he feels it is important for us to be able to communicate with my grand parents and for us to keep our culture.
My mom is Thai, but she was adopted by a Hmong family, so she speaks Hmong fluently as well.
HT: How would you describe the life of a movie star?
BS: I absolutely love my job! Even though there are times when I will work 12 Ė 14 hour days, I am still so thankful that I get to live out my dream every single day of my life.
Acting is something Iíve always had ambitions to pursue. I can still remember putting mascara on when I was just two-years-old!
HT: Are you a part of the Hollywood party scene that is often portrayed in magazines and tabloids?
BS: Besides Hollywood grand-openings and award shows, I try to stay away from the parties. Itís so easy to be swept away from that whole scene because itís expected of you.
Iíve never drank or smoked in my entire life, but Iíve seen 15-year-olds drinking and smoking and I just think thatís gross.
HT: What do you do during your off time?
BS: Mostly I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. My schedule can be hectic at times making it a challenge to spend time with each other.
For hobbies, I play basketball and golf. Iím beginning to learn how to play tennis, which is fun. I love the Lakers!
And you know, regular girl stuff like hang out with my friends, going shopping and stuff like that.
HT: How do you fit an education in with your schedule?
BS: Actually, I graduated high school two years early. Currently Iím taking courses at a community college and online courses from UC-Berkeley. Iím majoring in psychology, mainly because Iím interested in it, but also so I can learn how to get into the different roles I play.
I take my education very seriously because they can take away your career, your money, your cute boyfriend, but they can never take away your knowledge.
One day I wont be in this business and Iíll need something to fall back on.
HT: What kind of car do you drive?
BS: Thatís a funny question because I donít have a car yet. I havenít found the time to go select a car, thatís all. People are always asking me why I just donít get a car, but really, I just havenít got the time yet.
HT: Do you feel the ďHollywoodĒ pressure to stay thin?
BS: Iím just a nobody, really. I am what I am. If I have a booty, sorry, I love eating pizza and ice cream at nights!
Every girl faces the weight issue, I think. Itís not just a Hollywood thing to be thin, itís a societal issue that everybody faces.
HT: Whatís your dream role?
BS: Cant really think of one. I love playing all sorts of different roles because I love the challenge. Itís hard to say which role Iíve liked the best because Iíve had such a wide variety of roles and Iíve loved each one.
HT: Do you still get nervous when you go for auditions?
BS: Actually, I havenít had to audition for quite a while now. Iíve worked my way to where directors know my abilities and can be hired by reputation.
HT: Are you mostly cast when they need an Asian girl?
BS: Thatís the thing, most of the roles Iíve gotten didnít have race specified when they wrote the character.
Being Hmong, Iíve worked twice as hard as others just to prove Iím a good actress even though my hair isnít blonde and my eyes arenít blue. Usually, they take a look at me and they have to think twice because I wasnít what they had envisioned when they wrote that character.
I think the only role that called for an Asian girl was for the Bernie Mac Show.
HT: How much longer do you think youíll be acting?
BS: As long as they continue to hire me, Iíll continue to act. You never know in this business.
HT: What sort of advice do you have for those teens out there who want to follow in your footsteps?
BS: Believe in yourself. Believe in what youíre doing. And take advice from the people who are helping to guide your life because life is a big huge learning process.
If a little girl from Sacramento can be living out her dreams, anybody from anywhere can make it too!
You may have seen Brenda in...
Stuck in the Suburbs Lead Disney
Like Mike Lead 20th Century Fox
Get A Clue Lead Disney
The Ultimate Christmas Present Lead Disney
Blade Featured New Line Cinema
Game In The Sun Lead Brian Hauan/Director
The White Fox Lead Elizabeth Sung/AFI
Leave It To Beaver Featured Universal
Santa With Muscles Featured Santa Productions Inc.
Requiem Lead Elizabeth Sung/AFI
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Series Regular Disney Channel
Phil of the Future Recurring Disney Channel
The George Lopez Show Guest Star ABC
Thatís So Raven Guest Star Disney Channel
The Bernie Mac Show Guest Star Fox
Judging Amy Co-Star CBS
ER Guest Star NBC
7th Heaven Guest Star WB
MAD TV Co-Star FOX
Popular Co-Star FOX
The Tonight Show Skit w/ Jay Leno NBC
Thunder Alley Recurring ABC
Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Actress: ďThe Ultimate Christmas PresentĒ (2000)
Nominated Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Actress: ďThe Bernie Mac ShowĒ (2002)
DID YOU KNOW?
Check Brenda Song's official website out: www.brendasongsite.com