Cambodia International Film Festival

Elodie Yung Speaks About Her Khmer Roots

Elodie Yung Speaks About Her Khmer Roots

Elodie Yung is an honorary patron of the 11th edition of the Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) this year. As a Hollywood actress Elodie Yung is often known for her roles as Elektra in the MCU’s Daredevil and in the mini-series, Defenders, most recently as a Cambodian doctor in Fox’s latest drama, The Cleaning Lady. Although she has played many ethnicities from Greek to Egyptian, what many people do not know is that she is actually Khmer!

We caught up with the talented starlet during a recent trip to the kingdom of wonder before she returned to her home in Los Angeles. Although this isn’t her first trip to Cambodia, she is still amazed by a new discovery every time she returns.

“Every time I come here I feel an emotional charge, ” Yung said. “Something crazy always happens that connects me to my roots, connects me to my dad, connects me to my family that I haven’t met.”

A Family Bond

Yung was born to a Cambodian father and a French Italian mother in Paris. She spent her childhood adapting to the rough suburbs of Paris. “I always had access to different cultures, but I was always very immersed in my very own recomposed family,” Yung said. Her father had lost his parents, siblings, and grandparent to the Khmer Rouge when he left Cambodia for France; he found a family with his aunts and uncles who had later immigrated there. “They were very tight and I was immersed in the culture, every weekend we were together celebrating things together,” Yung explained. “That’s the family bond that has been passed on.”

Although Yung regretfully cannot speak Khmer fluently, she can understand Khmer. The only words she can confidently say in Khmer are a few curse words, she pointed out mischievously.

Claiming Her Heritage On Screen

In Fox’s TV series, The Cleaning Lady, she plays Thony De La Rosa, originally conceived as a Filipina woman. Because the creators liked Yung and wanted her to portray her origin, they chose Thony from a list of names she created. The name Thony was derived from the name of one of her aunts, who is very proud of it.

It follows the story of Thony De La Rosa, a Cambodian doctor who leaves her husband to look for help for her son, Luca, who was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening immune deficiency disorder. The series has already been renewed for a second season.

Playing a character with a back story so similar to her own is a first for her. Yung, who has children, felt an instant connection to her character as a mother. Her character also has experienced the hardship of being an immigrant, much like her father.

All actors of diversity should have more opportunities to shine, according to Yung. By increasing exposure such as the CIFF, Cambodian actors will be able to appear in more films. Join the festival from 28 June to 3 July 2022 to hear more Khmer voices in the film industry.


Cambodia International Film Festival is Cambodia’s largest international film and cultural event. It was established in 2010 as a catalyst for the film sector initiative, attracting more than 20,000 attendees each year.


Written by Sotheavy Nou