Netflix’s A24 show Beef may have made Ali Wong a household name for a worldwide audience, but she has been a bonafide star for several years prior to the release of the award-winning show. The multifaceted American entertainer wears many hats. Ali Wong is a stand-up comedian, actress, writer, producer, director, author and businesswoman — all of which have contributed to her net worth.
Born Alexandra Dawn Wong in San Francisco in 1982, she’s gained critical acclaim for her sharp wit and observational humour, often delving into topics like relationships, parenthood and societal taboos.
Today, she is one of the biggest Asian celebrities in the American entertainment industry. In January 2024, she became the first woman of Asian descent to win a lead acting Primetime Emmy award in any category for her stellar performance in Beef.
“I wouldn’t be standing here without my parents, my amazing parents, my father who I so wish was alive to share this moment with me, my hilarious father who loved me unconditionally and taught me the value of failure,” she said on the stage while accepting the award. “To my beautiful daughters: you are my everything. Thank you for inspiring me, and this is for you.”
It was one of the two wins she secured at the awards; the other being as executive producer for Beef when it won the Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. She was also nominated for best voiceover acting for her animated comedy Tuca & Bertie.
All about Ali Wong: Her career, accolades and net worth
Early years and initial recognition
Born to a Vietnamese mother and Chinese-American father in San Francisco, California, US, Ali Wong studied at the San Francisco University High School before majoring in Asian-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. During her time at UCLA, she was part of the LCC Theatre Company, which was founded by one of her best friends, actor Randall Park. She also studied in Vietnam as a Fulbright scholar.
Wong embarked on a career in stand-up comedy in her early 20s. It was a period of struggle. Speaking to NBC News in 2015, she said that she started performing at a laundromat-cum-coffee bar in San Francisco called Brainwash Cafe, which she jokingly called “basically a homeless shelter.”
She soon moved to New York City and started performing up to nine sets a night from 7 pm to 2 pm at multiple venues. In those years, she shared a SoHo loft with six others.
“For the first year I lived in New York, I never ate out,” Wong said. “I literally just ate lentils and brown rice at home. Sometimes I’d treat myself to this half chicken from Chinatown that cost USD 3.50.”
An initial recognition came in 2011 when Variety included her in their ‘10 Comics to Watch’ list.
“Wong’s crass attitude and dirty mouth may be offensive to some, but it’s her ability to say those things that most of us are thinking (and wish we could say) that make her stand out,” Variety wrote in its profile on Wong.
By 2013, she had appeared on The Tonight Show, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show, Dave Attell’s Comedy Underground Show, Chelsea Lately, VH1’s Best Week Ever and MTV’s Hey Girl.
Her stand-up career took off when Netflix released her comedy special Ali Wong: Baby Cobra in 2016. It was a critical success and propelled Wong as a major stand-up comic act for a worldwide audience.
The success of Ali Wong: Baby Cobra was followed by the equally successful Netflix comedy specials Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife in 2018 and Ali Wong: Don Wong in 2022, the last of which won Wong her first Primetime Emmy nomination with a nod in Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.
The specials were praised for Wong’s hilarious takes on personal experiences, relationships, motherhood and societal expectations, which she delivered with sharp wit and unflinching candour. Interestingly, she was pregnant with her first child during the filming of Baby Cobra and was expecting her second child during the filming of Hard Knock Wife. She was praised for both acts.
Her children, both daughters, continue to accompany their mother on tours. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in March 2023, Wong said, “Taking kids on the road is so beautiful. It’s the opposite of film and television where I’m just gone all day.”
Ali Wong and her rising acting graph
Ali Wong has made a name for herself in movies and TV shows. Her acting career took off when she starred in the Fox sitcom Breaking In in 2011. She shot to fame with the NBC sitcom Are You There, Chelsea? in 2012. She played Olivia, one of the main roles on the show which was based on a book written by Chelsea Handler.
The same year, she marked her cinematic debut with the action thriller film Savages. The film had a star-studded ensemble cast, including Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Benicio del Toro, Demián Bichir, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and John Travolta.
She has since appeared in or lent her voice to films and shows such as BoJack Horseman (2015), The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), Big Mouth (2019) and Human Resources (2022).
One of her major television appearances was in the ABC psychological medical drama Black Box in 2014, in which Wong played Dr. Lina Lark in 13 episodes. She was a series regular on the sitcom American Housewife throughout the show’s run from 2016 to 2021, playing the role of Doris.
She tasted both major critical and commercial success with Fresh Off the Boat. Wong worked as a writer and an actor on the show, in which the main roles were played by Randall Park and Constance Wu. The story revolves around a Taiwanese-American family and their life in the US. Wong played Margot in the episode “The Flush” in season 3 of the show in 2017.
Perhaps her biggest commercial and critical fame before Beef came with the film Always Be My Maybe in 2019. Wong played the main role of Sasha Tran alongside Randall Park, who essayed Marcus Kim. She co-wrote and co-produced the story with Park and others.
The Netflix movie is about two childhood best friends reconnecting years later, with each having a completely different life. It was praised unanimously by critics upon its premiere, with Netflix saying that the film was viewed by 32 million households within the first four weeks.
Wong then played a main role in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film Birds of Prey in 2020. The film had an ensemble cast featuring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco and Ewan McGregor. It grossed over USD 200 million at the worldwide box office.
Beef and the ensuing critical acclaim
A24’s Beef, however, has been the biggest success in Wong’s career so far. The television miniseries created by Korean-American director Lee Sung-jin for Netflix has been received with worldwide critical acclaim since it premiered in 2023.
It is about two people whose lives are drastically altered following a road rage incident. Ali Wong is Amy Lau, a small business owner and one of the parties in the incident. Steven Yeun plays Danny Cho, who is a struggling contractor and the other party in the incident. Wong and Yeun also executive produced the show with others.
Besides her Primetime Emmy for acting, Wong also won a Critics’ Choice Television Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in the Limited Series categories at the respective award ceremonies. Yeun, too, won the best actor award in the same categories at all three ceremonies.
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Since Beef, too, was adjudged the best limited series at all three awards, Wong technically, therefore, won another Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe award.
Ali Wong is also an author
Ali Wong wrote Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life in 2019 for her two daughters.
Speaking to NPR during its promotion, she said. “There were a lot of knocks on my door to write a book, and I didn’t have an idea really until I thought about writing letters to my daughters. That’s very much inspired by a letter that my father wrote to me before he passed away that began with ‘Dear Alexandra.’ And it’s one of the few things that if my house was on fire, if there was an apocalypse, I would take with me along with, you know, my passport and my kids. I just wish that he had written a lot more because I have so many more questions for him that it’s too late to ask.”
The book won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Humour category.
The Ali Wong merchandise
As one wearing many hats, Ali Wong adds some more to her net worth through her official merchandise. The money comes from the sales of mugs, hats and crewneck sweaters, though the prices indicate that they don’t raise her overall income by much.
The merchandise is hosted at Merch Method, Inc., which describes itself as an “artist-driven entertainment and music merchandising company.”
What is Ali Wong’s net worth?
Celebrity wealth tracker Celebrity Net Worth pegs the fortune of Ali Wong at USD 4 million. There is, however, no way to ascertain her exact income and salary from the TV shows and movies she has done so far. Her earnings from her stand-up acts are also unclear.
The earnings of comedians generally depend on venue size, ticket prices and negotiations with promoters. It is expected that Wong, being a major name on the circuit, will command higher fees for performances than others.
A hint about the actual earnings of Ali Wong comes from a 2019 report by The Hollywood Reporter. It stated that WarnerMedia aggressively tried to strike a deal with Wong for a comedy special and a scripted series for its streaming platform HBO Max. They reportedly offered Wong as much as USD 10 million for the comedy special alone. But Wong remained with Netflix, which signed an eight-figure deal with her for two future comedy specials, one of which was later streamed as Don Wong.
This means that her net worth is likely in the eight figures, which is far more than USD 4 million as stated by Celebrity Net Worth.
There is no hint of her income from movies or TV shows, including Beef. Reports suggest that she would have made at least USD 32,000 per episode for Beef based on SAG-AFTRA’s contracts at the time. But that is a minimum amount and given her stature, Wong would have been paid much more than that.
Whatever may be her actual earnings from the shows and movies, it is set to rise exponentially following the record-setting accolades that have come her way after Beef. It should not come as a surprise if the net worth of Ali Wong rises to the upper rung of eight figures in US dollars, or maybe even nine figures, soon.
(Hero image: IMDb; Featured image: Michael Desmond/ABC – © 2016 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved./IMDb)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– How much money does Ali Wong make?
It is estimated that Ali Wong has a net worth of at least USD 4 million, but some reports indicate that it could be much higher.
– Did Ali Wong win an Emmy?
Yes, Ali Wong has won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Beef, one for acting and the other as executive producer of the miniseries.
– What is Ali Wong known for?
Ali Wong is a renowned stand-up comic and actor, whose credits include several notable TV shows and movies besides comedy specials.