Oral History

VIRGINIA WING is a Chinese-American actress whose ancestors came to the “Gold Mountain” from Canton (now Guangzhou) in the mid-1800s to participate in the Gold Rush and the building of the railroads. She is currently writing about growing up Southern in the Mississippi Delta, where she was born and raised.

She has run the gamut from theatre, cabaret, TV, film, playwriting, directing, producing and script analysis. She modeled in her youth and is in the Breck Girls Hall of Fame. She was the model in the Mitsouko by Guerlain ad in the 1960s, which won awards internationally. She was a nominee for Best Actress in the Hollywood NAACP Image Awards.

Her proudest role to date is Grandmother — to three fabulous grandchildren.

Early influences

Wing – OH 1 – 00:35 “I was born in Marks, Mississippi, during the time of extreme segregation…” – 3:35 “…in the back of the store.”

Virginia introduces herself and talks about growing up Chinese in segregated Mississippi, and performing for her first audience in her father’s grocery store.

Learning to act and creating a character

Wing – OH 2 – 14:50 “I played a stripper once…” – 18:38 “…seems to be unnatural.”

Virginia talks about roles she is drawn to, not conforming to Asian stereotypes, and feeling freer to bear her soul in front of an audience of thousands rather than in her own living room.

Aging, motivation, discrimination

Wing – OH 3 – 31:12 “I’ve had younger actors…” – 33:45 “…and don’t let anybody tell you you don’t exist.”

Virginia talks about career stamina, times she felt her existence was dismissed, and the grit it takes to continue.