Rae Dawn Chong

The Canadian-American actress Rae Dawn Chong was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on 28th February 1961, and is probably still best known for her award-winning performance in the 1981 fantasy movie “Quest of Fire”, as well as for her role in the 1978 musical drama “Stony Island”.

Rae is of mixed race, as her father, the actor and comedian Tommy Chong, is Chinese and Scots-Irish, whereas her mother Maxine is Black Canadian. Rae has five siblings in total: the actress and model Robbi Chong, a half-sister from Tommy’s second marriage, and three younger half-brothers (one of whom is adopted). Acting clearly runs in the family, as Rae, two of her sisters, and her adopted brother Marcus all entered the entertainment industry in their early adult years.

According to the actress, her paternal grandfather left rural China behind in the 1930s, and relocated to Vancouver. Although he spoke Cantonese, Rae’s grandfather refused to teach his children or grandchildren the language, as a result of the racial discrimination he had suffered; the actress once wistfully recalled in an interview that she and her siblings were desperate to know anything about their culture during their childhood years.

Career

Rae’s first credited acting role was in a 1974 episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”. Four years later, she played Janetta in Andrew Davis’s “Stony Island”, following the journey of an up-and-coming R&B band in Chicago. In 1980, the actress played Rita in the TV movie “Top of the Hill” and guest-starred in an episode of “Lou Grant”; little did she know that she would become widely recognized thanks to her second feature film, “Quest for Fire”, for her portrayal of Ika which earned her a Genie Award in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category – despite wowing viewers, Rae went on a two-year hiatus for unexplained reasons, finally returning to screens in 1983 when she was cast as Billie Vaughn in the medical drama series “St. Elsewhere”. 1984 was a much busier year for the Canadian, as she had notable roles in the movies “Choose Me” and “Beat Street”, accompanied by secondary roles in the erotic thriller “Fear City” and the comedy feature film “Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers”.

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The mid-1980s were Rae’s time to shine when it came to movie roles; in just two years, the actress was critically acclaimed for her performance as Squeak in “The Color Purple”, played Cindy in the Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster “Commando”, and worked alongside Kim Cattrall and John Stockwell in “City Limits”. Other projects of the time include her roles in “American Flyers”, “Running Out of Luck”, and “Soul Man”; Rae was also Mick Jagger’s love interest in the video for the hit single “Just Another Night”.

Even if the 1990s were a slow decade for Rae when it came to TV, she still guest-starred in episodes of “Lonesome Dove: The Series”, “The Outer Limits”, and “Poltergeist: The Legacy” to name a few. She was also cast as Carrie Fellows in the prime-time soap opera “Melrose Place”, although her character was written out of the show after one season. Meanwhile, the actress dazzled in the 1990 drama “Amazon”, the sci-fi horror movie “The Borrower”, and the Canadian drama “Chaindance”.

Despite not all of her projects being commercially successful, Rae became known for her work ethic and artistic range, with roles in TV movies, action films, and horror movies. Some of the actors she worked with during the decade include Mark Hamill, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Goldblum; in 1997, Rae played herself in the unfinished movie “Highball”, which was written and directed by Noah Baumbach but later disowned after a falling out with the producer.

2000 marked the year of Rae’s directing debut, “Cursed Part 3”, a short horror film starring Chris Pratt. Unbeknownst to many, Rae discovered Chris when he was working as a waiter at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Maui; despite the short being a commercial flop, it was Chris’s first role, and the one that helped launch his career in the entertainment industry.

Rae took on less movie roles in the 2000s, preferring to focus on TV as she starred opposite Adrian Pasdar in the sci-fi drama series “Mysterious Ways”, a role that lasted until 2002. Later, she would star in season one of “Wild Card” co-starring Joely Fisher, and guest-star in an episode of “That’s So Raven”. Unfortunately for the actress, many of the independent movies which she appeared in, such as “Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer”, went nowhere commercially, and so did little to help her career.

In 2016, the Canadian finally returned to television after a lengthy hiatus, appearing in two episodes of “Better Things”, and later guest-starring in episodes of “9-1-1”. Highlights of the later years of Rae’s career include winning the Invisible Women Award by the Women Film Critics Circle, for her performance in the 2021 drama “The Sleeping Negro”.

Rae’s latest roles include playing Florence de Pointe du Lac in “Interview with the Vampire”; so far she has appeared in four episodes of the series. She is currently narrating the upcoming movie, “Street Signs: Homeless But Not Hopeless”, and filming for “The Raven”.

Personal Life & Net Worth

Rae has been married three times. In the 1970s, she walked down the aisle for the first time with stockbroker Owen Bayliss, the father of her son Morgan, but the couple divorced in 1982. Seven years later, she married her “Soul Man” co-star C. Thomas Howell; however, this marriage lasted just one year. More than two decades later, Rae tied the knot for the third time with Xootr founder Nathan Ulrich. The couple divorced in 2014 after three years of union, citing irreconcilable differences as the cause. The actress is believed to be currently single.

Reliable sources estimate Rae’s net worth at $4 million, thanks to her lengthy career as an actress.

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