VANESSA KAI is best known for her work on the CW's hit series "Kung Fu".
In theater, Vanessa was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as "Ruby" in the world premiere of "KPOP," an Off-Broadway, immersive musical event produced by Ars Nova. Other notable credits include the world premieres of "The Pain of My Belligerence" at Playwrights Horizons, "Somebody's Daughter" at Second Stage and "The Architecture of Becoming" at New York's City Center, and NAATCO’s (National Asian American Theatre Company) adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, A Trilogy in Two Parts,” a New York Times Critics' Pick.
Vanessa's breakthrough role came in 2020 when she was cast as Pei-Ling Zhang in the CW's "Kung Fu". Her powerful portrayal of the mysterious and wise mentor to the show's protagonist, Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang), quickly made her a fan favorite. Vanessa's performance has been praised for its depth, nuance, and authenticity, as well as her martial arts skills which she honed for the role.
Before "Kung Fu", Vanessa appeared in a number of other television series and films, including "New Amsterdam", "Orange Is the New Black", "The Mysteries of Laura", "The Blacklist", "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", and "Madam Secretary".
A champion of new works Kai is much sought after for her collaborative spirit and her love of world building, and has helped to develop new plays at New York Stage & Film, Public Theater, SoHo Rep., Roundabout Theater Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theatre, The New Group, The Lark Play Development Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Playwrights Realm, and New Dramatists.
Vanessa is a native New Yorker and a first generation Chinese American.