Born in Hong Kong and raised in New York City, Celia spent her childhood in her parents’ video rental store where the stories and visions of international filmmakers sparked her passion for cinema.
She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Baruch College (CUNY) in Manhattan, and upon graduation worked as a graphic designer at her alma mater while also pursuing an acting career. She then went on to book a slew of leading and supporting roles in the feature films, Unity of All Things, Detachment and eventually Scorsese’s Revenge of the Green Dragons, and decided to pursue acting full time.
Celia has made a splash in the entertainment scene and has become well-known for playing a variety of characters, from an assassin to a surfer to an escort to a slew of cold-blooded villains. Celia currently stars in Netflix’s new action series Wu Assassins, alongside Kathryn Winnick, Iko Uwais, Byron Mann and Tommy Flannagan. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the series blends martial arts, drama and supernatural elements for a story that centers on “Kai Jin” (Uwais), a man who becomes the latest and last Wu Assassin chosen to round up the powers of an ancient triad and restore balance once again. Celia is a scene stealer as “Ying Ying,” a quirky young woman who is wise beyond her years and assists Kai Jin in his mission.
Celia can also be seen in AMC’s and Paul Giamatti’s dramedy series, Lodge 49, which follows a disarmingly optimistic local ex-surfer, “Dud” (Wyatt Russell) in Long Beach, California, who’s drifting after the death of his father and stumbles upon a mystical fraternal lodge. Celia plays “Alice Ba,” a 17-year-old surfer who looks up to Dud and his sister, Liz. We chatted with Celia to learn more about her current projects and what she likes to drink when she’s out on the town.
Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on.
I’m on Wu Assassins on Netflix! It is a fantasy martial arts show set in present day San Francisco. The story follows “Kai” (Iko Uwais), a normal guy who encounters a magical force, “Ying Ying” (me), and was given supernatural powers to become the next Wu Assassin. Kai was given the task to recover the supernatural powers from the five elements that are currently in the hands of five criminals who are threatening to destroy the world. Check it out! Aside from that, I am also in a show on AMC called Lodge 49 and two films that are currently in post-production called Shoplifters of the World and Like Family.
With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your downtime?
With my downtime I like traveling, spending time with my dog (Wookie) and definitely trying out new types of recipes and cuisines.
When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?
I’m a foodie, this is so hard!! I mean, there were a few times when my friends and I drove to Toronto just so we could go to this seafood restaurant in Markham called the Fisherman Lobster Clubhouse. For a Japanese non-sushi restaurant, I like Bohemian in NYC. They also have great cocktails. Laojie in Brooklyn for hotpot, N.B Wing Wong for Chinese BBQ, Hometown for Texas BBQ and La Casa Bella in Brooklyn for sliced pizza. There are so many, I can’t just pick one!
What types of dishes do you usually order?
I love seafood. So my go-to is always the seafood section first on the menu.
Do you cook?
Yup! I don’t think that I am great at it, but if I tried something good in a restaurant, I would see if I could recreate it at home.
What types of drinks do you order when out?
I like fruit-based cocktails. I like to go to different cocktail bars and try their drinks. I am always looking for new speakeasies to check out.
Do you prepare drinks at home?
Yes! I have a bar at home. But unless I am hosting a dinner party, I am too lazy to prepare a cocktail for myself.
Do you own a home bar?
YUP! I mean you need one to entertain friends, right? It’s not for me at all…
What is your home bar stocked with?
What is your favorite cocktail?
My favorite drink—like food, it’s hard for me to choose! It changes all the time. But I do like the “Cilly Addiction” from Bohemian.
Have you ever been a bartender?
My dad owned a bar at one point, and I worked there for fun. Not sure if I ever made any good drinks. But I am definitely not a professional.