Kelly Ann Hu (simplified Chinese: 胡凯丽; traditional Chinese: 胡凱麗; pinyin: Hú Kǎilì; born February 13, 1968) is an American actress and former fashion model. She was Miss Teen USA 1985 and Miss Hawaii USA 1993.
Hu was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of Juanita, an engineering drafter for Honolulu, and Herbert Hu, a salesman and exotic bird breeder; the two divorced during Hu's childhood. Her brother, Glenn, is a Resource Manager in the United States Army She is of Hawaiian, Chinese, and English descent. She attended Maʻemaʻe Elementary School and Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
Hu has held a lifelong interest in singing and dancing and has also been interested in martial arts since her early childhood. Hu's cousin was a successful model in Japan, and Hu decided to follow her example. Kelly Hu won the title of Miss Hawaii Teen USA and competed in the 1985 Miss Teen USA pageant, becoming the Miss Teen USA pageant's third titleholder in history and its first Asian American winner. Hu has mentioned in interviews that her mother had told her America was not ready for an Asian as such a prominent role model. Ironically enough, she discovered after winning that she was prohibited from appearing in non-contest related activities for the year of her reign, this rule soon changed later on the coming years.
Hu modeled in Japan and Italy, and became well known in the latter as the star of a series of television advertisements for Philadelphia brand cream cheese, playing a young Japanese college student named Kaori. Hu moved to Los Angeles and began her acting career in 1987, with a guest starring role as Mike Seaver's Hawaiian love interest on the sitcom Growing Pains. Hu followed this with appearances on various television series, including Night Court,"(Phineas And Ferb)", Tour of Duty, 21 Jump Street and Melrose Place. Her first movie role was in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Hu also won the title of Miss Hawaii USA in 1993, becoming the first former Miss Teen USA to win a Miss USA state title. In the 1993 Miss USA pageant, held in Wichita, Kansas, Hu entered the top 10 in second place, after winning the preliminary interview competition and placing second and third, respectively, in swimsuit and evening gown. She then made the top 6 ranked second, winning the top 10 evening gown competition and placing second in swimsuit. She was eliminated in 4th place after the judges' questions, just two hundredths of a point from the final three.
In 1995, Hu played an undercover police officer in the movie No Way Back. She was the star in this movie. She was then cast as Dr. Rae Chang on Sunset Beach for six months in 1997. Afterwards, Hu was cast as police officers Michelle Chan in the television series Nash Bridges (1997–1998), Pei Pei "Grace" Chen on Martial Law (1998–2000), and Agent Mia Chen on the last three episodes of the television series Threat Matrix (2004). Her subsequent movie appearances include The Scorpion King (2002), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) and X2 (2003) as Yuriko Oyama / Deathstrike. She provided voice talents for the popular video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords as Visas Marr, the Sith woman who joins the Jedi Exile's party. Hu has been featured twice in Maxim magazine (May 2002 and May 2005).
In January 2007, Hu began appearing in a full time role on the television series In Case of Emergency. She plays Kelly Lee, a Korean American woman who accidentally reunites with her high school classmates and realizes none of them grew up according to their high school plans. The show did not have a successful run, being cancelled after airing 12 episodes and leaving its season finale un-aired.
During the first quarter of 2007, she completed filming the film Stilletto, and after that, Farmhouse.
In April 2009, Hu developed the character JIA for Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology. In July, she appeared at Comic-Con International in San Diego to sign copies of Secret Identities alongside her collaborator, DC Comics artist Cliff Chiang. In the fall of 2009, she appeared in the film The Tournament as Lai-Lai Zhen. She was the first guest actor to cross over between the television series NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS, playing Lee Wuan Kai in a two-episode arc within both series.
In spring of 2010, Kelly Hu played Pearl, a vampire, on the CW television series Vampire Diaries.
In fall of 2010, Kelly Hu began a recurring role on the CBS television series Hawaii Five-0.
In the fall of 2012, Kelly Hu guest starred as the character China White on the seventh episode of the CW series Arrow.