Actor and comedian Ken Jeong’s career is on fire right now. Last summer, he starred in the groundbreaking film, Crazy Rich Asians. On Fox’s blockbuster, The Masked Singer, he sits on the celebrity panel, adding doses of humor to the guessing game. His first-ever stand-up special, Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho, debuted on Netflix on February 14. Plus, he’s recently made guest-star appearances on television shows The Kids Are Alright and Magnum P.I. He will also be in the animated motion picture Wonder Park, due out March 15, as he voices Cooper the beaver.
Now, the licensed physician has secured the lead role in a new comedy pilot for CBS, The Emperor of Malibu. The multi-camera show is being co-written and executive produced by Kevin Kwan, the author of the novel Crazy Rich Asians, which the hit movie was based on.
Variety reported that Jeong will be playing Gerry, a Chinese tech billionaire, who flies his whole family to Los Angeles in an outrage after finding out that his son, Auggie, got engaged to an American woman.
This will be the 49-year-old Korean-American star’s second time headlining a sitcom. He was previously on the ABC series, Dr. Ken, for two seasons, from 2015 to 2017. Jeong co-created the program, which was loosely based on his own life.
When announcing his role in The Emperor of Malibu on Instagram, Jeong praised the show’s writer.
“Words can’t describe how I love [Kevin Kwan],” he said, adding two red heart emojis and two of the person with folded hands emojis to further prove his point.
Kwan showed Jeong some love as well in his own Instagram announcement.
“THRILLED doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel right now. Let’s all bow down to [Ken Jeong] The Emperor of Malibu,” he wrote.
No word yet as to who will play the other characters in the pilot for the potential series.
Jeong has been married to Tran Ho, who is also a physician, for 14 years. They have twin daughters, Zooey and Alexa, who are 11 years old.
In 2015, he told the Hollywood Reporter about how he went from being a medical professional to a successful showbiz standout. He explained that he always wanted to be a doctor growing up, and didn’t even take his first acting class until his sophomore year at Duke University.
He eventually started performing stand-up comedy while studying at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine and during his internal medicine residency at the Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans.
“I worked 90-hour weeks, but no matter how stressed out I was at school, I’d go to Charlie Goodnights in Raleigh and do a five-minute opening slot for comedians like Brian Regan or Marc Maron,” Jeong said.
He eventually moved to Los Angeles to work at the Kaiser Permanente medical facility. He figured it would be a great city to continue his stand-up career and also audition for movie and TV parts. After securing the role of the doctor in Knocked Up, his wife told him that he needed to pursue acting full-time.
“So I quit medicine a year before the movie, which grossed $219 million worldwide, came out. If it had all ended there, I would have been happy. But then for three Hangover movies to happen and six Community seasons? That’s a lifetime of a career,” he stated.
The rest, as they say, is history. And, even though he is now a bona fide star, Jeong still renews his medical license every year.