Birthplace: Hong Kong
Wang was raised on American movies. In fact, he was named after John Wayne. He studied film at California's College of Arts and Crafts, and then went back to Hong Kong to ply his trade. He didn't find much success as an auteur in a country obsessed with kung fu movies, so he returned to California. He directed, produced, cowrote, and edited Chan Is Missing (1982) for a meager $22,000. His Joy Luck Club (1993), based on the novel by Amy Tan, found commercial and critical success. His other films include Smoke (1995), Chinese Box (1997), Anywhere but Here (1999), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), and Last Holiday (2006).