Who Is Olivia Munn?
Born in Oklahoma, actress Olivia Munn spent much of her formative years in Tokyo, Japan. Her move to American TV gained steam with a co-hosting role on Attack of the Show before she found a wider audience on The Daily Show and The Newsroom. Munn also enjoyed increasingly prominent roles on the big screen, from her memorable contributions to Magic Mike to her turn as a telekinetic mutant in X-Men: Apocalypse. She has also written a memoir, which touched on the themes of harassment that later fueled her outspokenness during the onset of the #MeToo movement.
Lisa Olivia Munn was born on July 3, 1980, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to an American father and a Vietnamese-raised mother of Chinese descent. When she was two years old, her mom, Kim, remarried to an American Air Force officer who eventually moved the family to Tokyo, Japan.
Those formative years were not easy ones for Munn, who had a bad relationship with her stepfather and felt out of place in her new surroundings. But she found comfort in watching videotapes of popular American shows and movies and enjoyed some success in the Tokyo modeling industry with her exotic looks.
Returning to Oklahoma at age 16, Munn again felt out of place at her high school, before bonding with the video game nuts and tech geeks that would comprise her future Attack of the Show audience. She went on to the University of Oklahoma, where she majored in journalism and minored in Japanese and dramatic arts.
Her plans to pursue acting out of college nixed by mom, Munn wound up spending a year at the assignments desk of KJRH-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She then became a sideline reporter at Fox Sports Net for college football and women’s basketball games but struggled to find a comfort zone in the role.
As a Hollywood neophyte, Munn got her start in such forgettable flicks as Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004) and The Road to Canyon Lake (2005). Rob Schneider’s Big Stan (2007) provided the opportunity to work alongside legitimate industry talent, as did The Slammin’ Salmon (2009), from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Munn followed with minor parts in bigger films, like 2010’s Date Night and Iron Man 2, before landing a supporting role in I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011), with Sarah Jessica Parker.
‘Magic Mike’ to ‘Ride Along 2’
Portraying the girlfriend of Channing Tatum’s titular character in Magic Mike (2012), Munn got the chance to stand out in a film acclaimed for being both sexy and smart. That same year she rejoined the Broken Lizard crew for The Babymakers and Freeloaders, before returning to the horror genre in Deliver Us From Evil (2014), with Eric Bana.
Following the disappointing heist comedy Mortdecai (2015), Munn played it safe as Detective Maya Cruz in the Ice Cube-Kevin Hart buddy comedy Ride Along 2, which enjoyed a strong box office showing upon its early 2016 release.
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ and ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’
Also in 2016, Munn made her superhero blockbuster debut in X-Men: Apocalypse as Psylocke, a telekinetic mutant who teams up with Oscar Issac’s civilization-destroying crew. The actress trained six to seven hours daily to prepare her intensive martial arts and sword work leaving her in top shape for her onscreen battles.
After a part in the ensemble comedy Office Christmas Party (2016), Munn joined another franchise with her voice work for The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017). Poking fun at the movie supervillain archetype, she played Koko, the ex-wife of Justin Theroux’s evil warlord and mother of Dave Franco’s adolescent ninja.
‘Ocean’s 8’ and ‘The Predator’
After kicking the 2018 summer season off with a cameo in Ocean’s 8, the all-female spinoff of the popular heist trilogy, Munn co-starred in the fourth installment of The Predator, as a scientist who teams with the military to take out the deadly intergalactic hunters. Next up for the actress was a return to comedy with Dick Move, scheduled for a 2019 release.
‘Attack of the Show’
Munn began appearing in the surfer drama Beyond the Break in 2006, but it was the start of her run on G4’s Attack of the Show that year that first earned the young actress a devoted following. Co-hosting a program that unabashedly celebrated geek culture, Munn showed she could hold her own among its video game enthusiasts and comic book fanboys, while also giving its largely teen and young adult male audience some extra fantasy fuel with her willingness to dress up as Princess Leia, Wonder Woman and other fictional sirens. During this time, she also earned a recurring role on the college comedy-drama Greek, and appeared in other noted programs like Chuck.
Making a sharp professional turn, Munn in 2012 left behind the TV host antics and bikini shoots for the rapid-fire banter and highbrow ruminations of HBO’s The Newsroom. As financial analyst Sloan Sabbith, she displayed a wonky expertise of economics to go with a social awkwardness and withering bluntness, earning more screentime by the drama’s third and final season.
The role wasn’t completely foreign to Munn, who drew from her own early experiences in journalism to present a fully fleshed-out character. “It wasn’t just imitating Diane Sawyer and Anderson Cooper,” she said. “I knew how the sausage got made, so I could bring that knowledge to the table.”
‘The Daily Show’ to ‘Six’
Nearing the end of her Attack of the Show tenure, Munn in 2010 began contributing to the popular news satire The Daily Show as its “Senior Asian Correspondent.” While short-lived, the role provided an opportunity to showcase her wit and charm to a larger, influential audience.
A chance at sitcom stardom came in early 2011 with Perfect Couples, though the show was off the air by the end of the season. Munn subsequently surfaced in other programs amid her work on The Newsroom, including a three-episode arc as Nick’s girlfriend on New Girl.
Her star power established, Munn later appeared on the reality TV competitions Project Runway and America’s Got Talent as a guest judge and was tapped to host the Critics’ Choice Awards in early 2018. The following month, she joined the cast of History’s Navy SEAL drama SIX, as high-ranking CIA operative Gina Cline.
Twitter and Instagram
Initially a devoted Twitter user, Munn has since taken to Instagram, posting footage of her intense training to become X-Men‘s Psylocke in 2016. She also revealed a fondness for using Instagram Story to shoot down rumors of her alleged romantic interest in men like Chris Pratt and Theroux. “Dear tabloids, please stop matching me with my friends’ exes,” she wrote. “No disrespect to people who do date their friends’ exes, that’s just not my style. Kthxbye! — OM.”
‘Suck it, Wonder Woman!’ and #MeToo
In 2010, Munn debuted her first book, Suck it, Wonder Woman!: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek. Laced with her irreverent and sometimes searing humor, the memoir recalled her dealings with culture shock in both Tokyo and Oklahoma, as well as wild tales of her climb up the Hollywood ladder. It also touched on an ugly aspect of the business that was still mostly under wraps at the time — her experience with an unnamed director who masturbated in front of her.
In November 2017, with that issue now at the forefront of Hollywood, Munn joined five other actresses in accusing Brett Ratner of sexual assault, confirming that he was the unnamed director in her book. “I shouldn’t have to be completely broken, battered, and devalued in order to prove that he crossed a line,” she said. Munn also penned an essay for Entertainment Weekly on the subject, arguing that Hollywood needed to change its culture of protecting and enabling abusive men like Ratner and Harvey Weinstein.
Munn became part of the Time’s Up Initiative, a group of prominent actresses, producers and other Hollywood insiders who set up a legal fund for harassment victims and sought to pressure companies and Congress to foster equal rights in the workplace. For her efforts, in 2018, she was named the inaugural Voice for Justice Award winner by the University of Oklahoma’s Women’s and Gender Studies Board.
However, Munn’s devotion to such a weighty issue took its toll, as she later came down with a full-body rash due to stress.
Production and Investing
Like other actors, Munn has moved into the development side of the business by entering into a production agreement with CBS TV Studios. Among her first deals was the sale of a series about a pioneering female sports broadcaster who attempts to forge ahead in her career amid rampant sexism and the stricter social conventions of the 1970s.
The actress also isn’t afraid to use her hard-earned money to back burgeoning businesses. She was among the early investors in the ridesharing service Uber, and also invested in Chef’s Cut Real Jerky after sampling and realizing it “tasted like steak in a bag.”
On the relationship front, Munn is probably best known for her two-plus-year relationship with superstar NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They began dating in late 2014, the engagement rumors never crystallizing into something concrete, before calling it quits in April 2017.
Prior to that, Munn dated actor Joel Kinnaman for two years, and was also linked to other Hollywood hunks like Chris Pine and Matthew Morrison.
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