Tran Jeong is a Vietnamese‑American family physician, whose claim to fame is being married to stand‑up comedian and actor, Ken Jeong, best known for his roles in the NBC comedy series, “Community,” and the “The Hangover” film trilogy.
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Early life and Family
Tran Jeong was born Tran Ho on 24 February 1972, in the USA, to immigrant Vietnamese parents, who raised her in the US. No other information about her family and early life is available.
Nor is there any information about her matriculation from high school, but she graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and then took her family medicine residency at Kaiser Permanente in California. She is board‑certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
KEN JEONG & TRAN JEONG
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She has been practicing medicine as a family physician in California for over two decades now. Currently, she has a practice in Woodland Hills as well as in Thousand Oaks.
Tran and Ken both worked at Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills. They met at a happy hour for doctors at the Dave & Buster’s restaurant sometime in 2002, and talked about what life was like as a doctor, and being single in Los Angeles, and they were like, ‘Oh wow. We have our misery in common. So, wanna go out?’ This was how Ken described their first meeting in an interview on “Morning Edition”. The two dated for two years before tying the knot in September 2004. Their twin daughters, Zooey and Alexa were born in 2007.
Her battle with cancer
While breastfeeding one of their twins in 2008, Tran found a lump on her breast, which turned out to be the very aggressive variant triple‑negative breast cancer. Tran worried about their twin daughters if she didn’t survive this, but said Ken was strong for her, although according to Ken, it was Tran who was the strong and calm one. This came at a time when Ken had quit his medical practice, and decided to pursue his acting career full time. When the offer came to do “The Hangover,” Ken had second thoughts on accepting it during this difficult time in their lives. Tran underwent a mastectomy, 16 chemotherapy sessions, and radiation therapy. Ken drove his wife to her chemo sessions and took care of her afterward, as well as caring for their one-year-old twins.
It was Tran along with her mother who encouraged Ken to accept the movie offer. They also wanted him to have an outlet for his worry and hardships, as he had been experiencing what they referred to as ‘caregiver burnout’. In October 2010, her oncologist declared her cancer-free although she was warned that the cancer could return in two years, but it has been over ten years since, and she is still cancer-free.
Who is Ken Jeong?
Ken Jeong is an actor and stand‑up comic. He was born Kendrick Kang Jo Jeong on 13 July 1969, in Detroit, Michigan, USA, to D.K. Jeong and Young Jeong, who are South Korean immigrants. He matriculated from Walter Hines Page High School in 1986, and graduated from Duke University in 1990, for his pre-med studies, and he received his medical degree specializing in internal medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.
He then went to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans for his residency, and became a licensed physician and practiced medicine in California.
Ken’s journey in acting and comedy
His love for comedy and making people laugh started when he was still in high school, and joined a male beauty pageant for the “Mr. Buccaneer” title. He had no qualms about making a fool out of himself in public by posing like Lou Ferrigno (the Incredible Hulk of the ‘70s and ‘80s) in his swim trunks and performed a cover of The Commodores’ “Three Times a Lady.” He received two standing ovations that night in 1986, at age 16.
Ken wanted to pursue acting as a profession, and took up theatre classes at UCLA in summer before med school.
He had intense discussions with his father who wanted him to have a more stable job. His father, who was an economics professor at that time, had to promise Ken that if he got into medical school, he would give him the chance to develop his hobby. Ken was finally convinced of taking up medicine saying, ‘You know? It’s a guaranteed, stable profession. And you’re doing good, and you’re helping people.’ He then continued with his pre-med studies at Duke.
His passion for acting and doing comedy was not forgotten while he was in medical school, as he was a regular at open mic nights at various clubs, such as Tootie’s Durham Comedy Club and Charlie Goodnights in Raleigh. Also, while he was still doing his residency, he entered and won the Big Easy Laff-Off contest, which gave him the chance to perform two nights at Improv in L.A.
The judges at that contest were the founder of New York’s original Improv comedy club, Budd Friedman, and former NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff. So, Ken became a doctor by day and a stand-up comic at night.
Ken Jeong finally moved to LA in 1998, and practiced medicine there as well as continuing to do comedy gigs. In 2007, he was cast as a doctor in the comedy, “Knocked Up”, and it was after filming the movie that he decided to quit his practice and focus on acting. He was married by this time, but his decision was supported by his wife.
“The Hangover” film series
Ken was cast for the supporting role of the flamboyant Chinese gangster Mr. Leslie Chow in the comedy film, “The Hangover,” which was released on 5 June 2009.
It was a commercial success with a worldwide gross of over $450 million, and received positive reviews from critics, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It was followed by two more – “The Hangover Part II” (2011) and “The Hangover Part III” (2013), and they were also box-office hits. The trilogy had a worldwide gross of nearly $1.5 billion, and Ken was in all of them.
It was also in 2009 when Ken Jeong was cast for the role of Ben Chang, Greendale’s unstable teacher, in NBC’s comedy series, “Community,” which went on for six seasons from through June 2015 for a total of 110 episodes. Ken is currently the main panelist in the third season of the American version of “The Masked King”, and in the first season of the British version. He made a special appearance as a contestant in the Korean TV show, “King of Mask Singer,” in January 2019 – he was named the “Golden Pig”, and sang a cover of Radiohead’s hit single, “Creep.”
- Ken’s first special, which was released on Netflix on Valentine’s Day in 2019, was dedicated to his wife. Called “You Complete Me, Ho”, apparently the name was Tran’s idea.
- Tran said Ken asked her if she’s okay with him doing the “sprang naked from the car trunk” scene, and she said, ‘Of course’ and had a good laugh about it. According to Ken, Tran said that it would be a feel-good movie for the summer, because every guy would go home feeling good about themselves after watching that scene.
- When Ken was asked in an interview if his wife thinks that he crossed the line or went over the top with the profanity and crudeness of his stand‑up comedy routines, he said that, ‘No, she’s really good about that.’ He said they both have the exact same sensibility of what they love in comedy.
- At the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, Ken bagged the Best WTF Moment Award for his famous scene in “The Hangover.” In his acceptance speech, he paid tribute to Tran and celebrated her recovery from cancer. He said the reason why he did the movie was because his wife, who had cancer at the time of filming, told him not to be afraid of taking chances, because life is short.
- While filming “The Hangover,” he would ad-lib Vietnamese words and phrases along with his dialogues that only he and his wife would understand, kind of an “inside joke” between the two. He called it ‘a weird love letter to his wife in a filthy movie,’ when interviewed by ABC News, something the director wasn’t aware of.
With Tran being a cancer survivor, her husband fully understood how cancer takes its toll, not just on the person suffering from it but also the family. He contributes to various charities for cancer, and has also shown his support of the Stand Up to Cancer initiative through his posts on social media.
Tran is 5ft 4ins. (m) tall and has a slim build. She has black hair and brown eyes.
Net worth and salary
Her salary as a family physician is not revealed, but is estimated at over $1 million, with the reputed net worth of her husband, Ken Jeong, being over $15 million as of April 2020 according to sources, it would mean that they are able to provide well for their twins and live comfortably.