Lucy Liu was travelling on the subway in New York City when a chance encounter with an agent changed the entire trajectory of her life.
She was just 19 at the time.
Now 52, Liu is one of the most famous faces in Hollywood.
But it hasn't always been an easy journey.
In a new interview with Women's Health this month, Liu reflected on her time in the spotlight, admitting that she was initially naïve about the world's perception of her when she first started acting.
"When people started to label it as 'dragon lady' or 'geisha' or whatever — I had to look up 'dragon lady,'" she shared.
"I literally was like, 'What is this? I don’t even know what that means!'"
Now, years later, Liu has no desire to adapt her life to please others.
"People are going to see you however they’re going to see you," she told the publication.
It's not the first time Liu has opened up about the challenges of navigating Hollywood as an Asian-American actor.
After being "discovered" on the subway, Liu began freelancing with a number of agents, who worked to secure her roles in commercials, theatre, television, and film.
"Everyone was willing to have me on their roster, but not commit to me because they didn’t know, realistically, how many auditions I could get," Liu told Variety, reflecting on the early years of her career.
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"The challenge from the beginning was just the diversity and 'We don’t really know what to do with you' and 'There’s not going to be a lot of work for you.'"