What’s Bruin in Hollywood?

Whether they graduated with honors, left UCLA early or found out their all-star athletic talents were never a lifelong dream, these Bruins continue to make their mark in Hollywood and beyond. Check out what these Bruin celebs are up to these days.

Randall Park and Ali Wong Comedians Ali Wong ʼ00 and Randall Park ’97 recently starred in Netflix’s romantic-comedy “Always Be My Maybe,” a film about two childhood sweethearts who had a fallout and avoided speaking to each other for 15 years, until reconnecting as adults running into each other in San Francisco. Their dream project was reportedly viewed by 32 million households in its first four weeks of release. This October, Wong will release her new book “Dear Girls” and continue touring the States for the “Milk & Money Tour.” As for Park, he recently made a short guest appearance on stage during a classic Van Halen song “Hot for Teacher” at the Ford Amphitheater with pop duo The Bird and the Bee. Park is also co-starring in an upcoming romantic-comedy drama “Straight Up,” that is scheduled to be released next spring.
Ben Stiller Known for his famous comedy roles, Ben Stiller was recently nominated for 12 Emmy Awards for his upcoming seven-part Showtime limited series “Escape at Dannemora.” The series is based on a true story about two inmates Richard Matt (Benicio Del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) breaking out of the Clinton Correctional Facility with the help of Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell (Patricia Arquette) in 2015. Although Stiller has carried his Hollywood stardom for years and is known as the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, he is also seen playing a much more serious day-to-day role as an advocate for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He recently testified in front of the U.S. Senate in Capitol Hill on behalf of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Gabrielle Union This summer, Gabrielle Union ʼ96 joined NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” as a judge for its 14th season, joining fellow new judge Julianne Hough and returning judges Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel. Her viral moment during this season was awarding Kodi Lee, a blind and autistic singing sensation, with the Golden Buzzer, insuring him a trip to the live shows in Los Angeles. Union also currently co-stars with Jessica Alba as Syd Burnett on the original drama series, "L.A.'s Finest,” a spin-off of the “Bad Boys” film franchise. She recently won a 2019 Teen Choice Award for her role on the series.
Kal Penn Kal Penn ’00, who went from White Castle in the “Harold & Kumar” franchise, to working in the Obama White House, is starring in a new comedy this fall for NBC. “Sunnyside” features Penn as a former New York City councilman, who finds his calling when faced with immigrants in need of his help and in search of the American Dream. Penn is a regular at Netflix’s “Designated Survivor” and he recently had guest appearances in The “Big Bang Theory’s” final season as Dr. Kevin Campbell. He also will be among the guest stars in season six of NBC’s “Hollywood Game Night” hosted by Jane Lynch.
Sara Barielles Now that the Grammy and Tony-nominated singer, Sara Barielles ’02, recently ended her four-year run the Broadway musical “Waitress,” she’s teaming up with writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams for an upcoming Apple TV+ series “Little Voices.” The romantic-comedy drama TV series is described as a romance tale in search to find your authentic voice in your early 20s. “Little Voices” will feature original music by Barielles and consist of 10 episodes in the first season, which is currently in production. This fall, Barielles will be touring the States to kick off her 2019 tour “Amidst the Chaos” which is her sixth studio album that was released in early April. In 2001, Barielles performed solo onstage in front of a large audience for the first time at UCLA’s Spring Sing. During her time as a student, she was a member of the co-ed group Awaken a Cappella and won twice.
Mark Harmon TV actor from the hit CBS television series “NCIS,” Mark Harmon ’74 has been named the 2019 recipient of the National Football Foundation Gold Medal in recognition of his accomplishments and true values on college football. He will be honored during the 62nd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 10 in New York City, which will also celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football. The prestigious award was first presented in 1958 to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before becoming famous, Harmon served for two seasons as a starting quarterback at UCLA.
Mayim Bialik CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” actress and neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik ’07, recently partnered with Chef Ali Cruddas on a new vegan eatery in Los Angeles, Bodhi Bowl, which inspires people to choose a healthier, greener and more compassionate lifestyle through plant-based eating. Having been friends for about 20 years, both have always dreamed of running a fast food vegan place. Throughout the years, Cruddas helped out with Bialik’s cookbook released in 2014, “Mayim’s Vegan Table.” Now that “The Big Bang Theory” ended its run last May, Bialik is currently working on projects which she can’t speak about yet, including directing a screenplay that she wrote. You can keep up-to-date with Bialik through her weekly newsletter Groknation.com, an online community of diverse people who dive deep into conversations on contemporary issues.
Dax Shepard NBC comedy-drama “Parenthood” star Dax Shepard ’00 has found another creative spin in his professional career - a conversational podcast titled “Armchair Expert,” in which he co-hosts alongside Monica Padman. The podcast is a mix of both in-depth interviews and freewheeling banter from celebrities, politicians, journalists and other guests about the “messiness of being human.” In 2018, the first episode which aired on Valentine’s Day with his wife Kristen Bell has since been downloaded more than 4 million times on iTunes, quickly becoming the year’s most downloaded podcast. Earlier this year, Shepard and his wife launched a new baby line at Walmart called “Hello Bello,” a baby brand offering parents plant-based ingredients and organic botanicals that are premium-quality, effective and affordable.
Danica McKellar Known for playing Winnie Cooper in “The Wonder Years,” actress and mathematician Danica McKellar ’98 will star in the upcoming dark comedy-drama “The Fiddling Horse.” McKellar portrays a woman who inherits a racehorse in an attempt to elevate her failing status within her high society circle. While filming is currently taking place in Louisiana, McKellar is undertaking yet another project with the TV channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, starring in an all new signature mystery movie franchise “Matchmaker Mysteries,” which has officially kicked off production in Ottawa. The math wiz continues to serve as a role model inspiring and building confidence in students to purse STEM fields and use math as a tool to empower the next generation.
James Franco After five years reviving his long-awaited film into the Hollywood spotlight, Academy Award nominee James Franco ’08 is finally walking the red carpet directing and starring in his own long-awaited film “Zeroville.” Set to arrive in theaters on Sept. 6, the film is based on a 2007 novel written by Steve Erickson, where a young man obsessed with cinema arrives in Hollywood during the late 1960s and works his way up to success, finding love to be dangerous in the Hollywood culture. Along Franco’s side will star other well-known actors - Will Ferrell, Megan Fox, Seth Rogan and Franco’s younger brother Dave Franco. The film was selected to the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September, which is held every year in Spain.

If you know of a Bruin celebrity who is involved in an upcoming project, drop us a note at ConnectFeedback@alumni.ucla.edu.