Elodie Yung in the "Kabayan" episode of The Cleaning Lady.
When Elodie Yung got the call to star in Fox's The Cleaning Lady, she couldn't have been more thrilled. "It was the role I'd been waiting for," she says of Thony De La Rosa, a quickwitted Cambodian doctor who comes to the U.S. for medical treatment to save her ailing son, only to be drawn into the world of organized crime.
"I've never gotten to play such a real, grounded character," explains Yung. Best known as Elektra in Netflix's Daredevil series, she's played everything from a ninja to an Egyptian goddess to a superpower-endowed Queen Catherine. "And I love her resilience."
That's not to say Yung couldn't hold her own in a fight. Her father, a Cambodian refugee who fled to Paris, enrolled her in karate classes when she was eight, and she earned a black belt in her teens. "We lived in a rough suburb, and he wanted me to be able to take care of myself."
Attending university in Paris, she'd intended to go into law and become a judge like her grandfather, who was killed by the Khmer Rouge in the Cambodian genocide. "I had heard these stories about him from my dad, so there was this kind of emotional transmission. I was pursuing someone I'd never met."
After a college pal suggested she sign with an agency, Yung realized she'd found a new passion and enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She soon started landing action and fantasy roles, but her heart was always in the human backstory. "My favorite role was Elektra because even though she's a cold-blooded murderer, you see her weaknesses and vulnerability. I enjoyed exploring the layers."
Yung is looking forward to diving deeper into her new character. "Thony's an underdog and a survivor," she says. "You won't see her get physical, but she's one tough cookie."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #1, 2022, under the title, "Her Next Step."