Mulan, Law & Order actor BD Wong asks to record Muni bus stop announcements

SFMTA director Tumlin embraces celebrity voice concept with invitations to SF stars

BD Wong as Doctor Hugo Strange in “Gotham.” Courtesy FOX

From Mulan to Jurassic Park, actor BD Wong’s roles have taken him on far-off adventures.

His next role, however, may be closer to home: Voicing bus stop announcements aboard Muni.

Wong asked publicly on Twitter Friday night if he could be the next voice of a Muni line in San Francisco, to which the newly appointed director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency responded with an enthusiastic “OMG.”

It may not stretch anyone’s acting chops, reading aloud street names and saying “Please hold on,” or making Muni puns like “Please pay your fare share.” But what nudged the veteran actor, a San Francisco native and Lincoln High School alum, to make the leap in the first place?

Well, film and television star Awkwafina’s new turn as the voice of a New York City Subway line to promote her new Comedy Central show, Nora From Queens, started quite a bit of social media chatter about just who should voice transit in other cities.

When the San Francisco Examiner asked Muni riders in San Francisco, “What actors/musicians/comedians should voice Muni stop announcements?” readers responded with an impressively long list of local talent.

Singer Tony Bennett, actor and city native Danny Glover, musician Carlos Santana, comedian Margaret Cho and rapper San Quinn were among many ideas pitched by people on social media.

Some folks even agreed. An actor, Kirk Thatcher, who played a “punk” who is rendered unconscious by Mr. Spock in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home after playing loud music on his boom box aboard a Muni bus, tweeted “I would be up for that!!!And if they don’t like that idea, then I say, ‘Screw you!’” He was referring jokingly to his character’s music choice.

Local rapper Equipto also said he’d enjoy voicing stop announcements for some Muni lines. So did San Francisco comedian Marga Gomez.

But after all the social media hubbub from Muni riders, SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin decided to weigh in. His choice? Ali Wong, an actress, comedian and San Francisco native from Pacific Heights, whose recent Netflix film “Always Be My Maybe” was set in San Francisco.

“Dear @aliwong,” he wrote directly to the actress, publicly, “we at @sfmta_muni are your biggest fans. Would you consider stopping by our office to record a Muni bus announcement or two? Love, Jeff.” He tagged an Examiner reporter in the tweet.

But it wasn’t Ali Wong who replied, but BD Wong, another San Franciscan Hollywood actor.

“OK, It’s true: @sfmta_muni bus announcements featuring the voice of @aliwong will undoubtedly improve the quality of life in #sanfrancisco. But @jeffreytumlin I couldn’t be more JEALOUS. Do I hafta put on a dress to get my invitation?!”

Tumlin, the SFMTA director replied, “OMG. We have an embarrassment of local Muni riding talent. Come join us! Wearing a dress is entirely up to you.”

He then added, “my people will call your people. Can we make this happen?”

Wong replied, “I am dead serious about this, Sir!”

Not only did BD Wong play Mulan’s love interest, Shang Li, in the animated feature, as well as roles in Jurassic Park, Gotham (this reporter’s personal favorite BD Wong role), American Horror Story, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Flash; Wong has appeared on stage locally as well.

Wong played a major role in Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, a sports drama about a college basketball team from San Francisco invited to China for an exhibition game. Wong plays the coach of the Chinese team.

As for Ali Wong, will she join in on the Muni fun?

The Examiner wasn’t able to ask her directly Friday night, as she was busy signing her new book, “Dear Girls,” at Green Apple Books on Clement Street.

But her publicist Doug Edley said, “If there is an offer we will discuss with Ali.”

joe@sfexaminer.com

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