The Untold Story Of Jet Li's Younger Daughters

This article references mental health issues.

Actor Jet Li, whose real name is Li Lianjie, is one of the most recognized and celebrated Chinese actors to ever cross into mainstream American entertainment. Li broke onto the scene with the epic, action-packed movie, "Once Upon a Time in China" and is known for such works as "Romeo Must Die," "Fearless," "Hero," and "Mulan." Having experienced extreme poverty in his childhood, this talented martial arts star with a career spanning several decades came to be worth a whopping $250 million, as of 2022. His career extends beyond film as Li is also noted for humanitarian causes dear to his heart. While the world knows him for his incredible stunt work, wushu mastery, major motion pictures, and philanthropy, four individuals know him simply as "dad." 

Li is a twice wed family man and the proud father to four incredible women. While his elder daughters have forever flown under the radar, living their lives away from the public eye, Li's youngest kids are becoming household names and faces, spreading their wings and soaring on their own accord. They are educated, aspirational ladies who would make any papa proud as punch. The untold truths of Jet Li's daughters, Jane and Jada Li, won't stay under wraps for long as these bright beauties were destined to shine.

Four daughters from two marriages

Actor Jet Li has four daughters from two separate unions. Li's oldest girls, Si Li and Taimi Li, were the product of Li's three-year marriage to Chinese actor, Huang Qiuyan. Per Today, the former couple met as wushu students studying at the Beijing Shichahai Sports School. After moving state-side to elevate and expand Li's career, the couple went their separate ways — primarily because Li had fallen hard for his costar Nina Li Chi while filming "Dragon Fight." Speaking about their relationship with Mingpao (via Yahoo), Li recalled, "When I was young, there was a girl who loved me, and I thought I loved her too. But after meeting Nina, I knew for sure it was love, such love that I would have abandoned fame and fortune for her and die for her. Every day is full of passion." 

The couple got married and welcomed two daughters together. Jane Li was born in 2000, and her sister Jada Li rounded the girl gang out in 2002. His littlest ladies have now stepped into womanhood, and while Li's career has been winding down, his youngest children are stepping into adulthood like the bosses they were born to be.

Their education was no joke

Plenty of parents start their children's educational journey early, but cracking the books while your tot is still in diapers? That's a bit much by normative parenting standards. Per Today, Jet Li's second wife and mother to his third and fourth daughters, Nina Li Chi, employed an early learning specialist to get her kids to the top of their class at six and nine months of age, respectively.

Following an early jump in academics, the girls' father gave up his American citizenship to become a citizen of Singapore. That way, his daughters could receive an education there instead of in America. The famous actor explained his move to an interviewer at the Shanghai International Film Festival (via Asia One), saying he had looked at the educational systems of a few other countries — including those of Australia and Switzerland — but ultimately he went with Singapore. Making the decision meant the girls could get the highest quality of education while he could get work easily and without worry.

Following roughly a decade of Singaporean studies, Jane Li returned to the U.S. setting her sights on the very best of the best for her college studies. Per Lianhe Wanbao, Jane was accepted to Yale and Princeton before choosing Harvard University to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree. The youngest child, Jada Li, wasn't far behind and went on to study at Barnard College.

Jane Li was invited to Les Bal des Débutantes

Jet Li's third daughter, Jane, is smart as a whip, the child of a major worldwide entertainer, and a total deb. Per The Straits Times, when she was 19 years old, the Harvard alum received a prestigious invite like no other when she was asked to participate in Les Bal des Débutantes along with 19 other lucky young ladies. The event is arguably the highest profile debutante ball in the entire world, exclusively drawing young ladies whose parents are the most elite in their respective fields of entertainment, business, or politics. 

Renowned as one of the hottest events on the planet, Les Bal des Débutantes offers fundraising and networking opportunities and a chance for prestigious youth to dress in unique couture looks from the most esteemed fashion houses. Per Tatler, Jane graced the 2019 edition of the annual event wearing a square-necked crimson Dior gown with a cape. She was in esteemed company as Les Bal des Débutantes' invite list that year included Shanaya Kapoor, daughter of famed Bollywood actor and producer Sanjay Kapoor, Kayla Rockefeller of the iconic American Rockefeller family, and Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.

As reported by Mothership, Jane had a stacked schedule at the time of the event. On top of earning top marks, she'd also assumed a position as outreach chair of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Association, and served on the board of the First Year Social Committee at Harvard. 

A near-death experience led to philanthropy

It could have been an intense scene from one of her father's many action thrillers, but it wasn't. In 2004, Jane Li was vacationing with her famous family in the Maldives when she experienced a terrifying natural disaster and a near-death experience. When Jane and her sister Jada were still toddlers, their father Jet Li and the family nanny were swimming with them when a tsunami ravaged the landscape. Four-year-old Jane was nearly swept out to sea, but her heroic father saved her life, pulling her onto his shoulders and keeping her head above the water. Jada, meanwhile, was saved by the nanny. Of the near-death experience, Jane told South China Morning Post, "I remember that there was water up to my eyes, and I thought, 'This is it, I'm going to die.' I was submerged for five or ten seconds."

The family survived and the near-death experience shaped all their futures. After experiencing the potential loss of his family, Jet founded One Foundation – an organization that his two daughters have reportedly supported. Per The Straits Times, Jane has devoted some of her time to supporting the charity's inner workings, as well as interning at the United Nations and advocating for awareness and issues specific to her Asian roots. Meanwhile, Jada has likewise lent her time and energy to One Foundation while also attending philanthropy conferences with her father and volunteering at the Rehabilitation Center for Hearing-Impaired Children in Northern China, per 8 Days

Jada Li is a mental health advocate

Millions of people around the globe experience anxiety and depression. Regardless of your wealth and status, mental illness does not discriminate — a fact that Jet Li's youngest child, Jada Li, knows all too well. Having experienced both anxiety and depression herself, she uses her social media platform to let others know they are not alone when it comes to living with mental health conditions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jada Li saw her mental health decline. Instead of keeping it under wraps, she opened up about her experiences with her followers. Sharing a set of lighthearted selfies on Instagram, she shared her own mental health history while revealing she had been undergoing a relapse. "I want to use this space to let you all know that if you're experiencing anything similar, you're not alone," she wrote in the caption. "Mental issues like COVID-19 anxiety are real and valid." She continued on, reminding her followers to seek out resources and help sites for support and to check in on loved ones. Offering hope to others, she added, "I believe in your strength and your ability to get through this." 

As a young person harboring mental health concerns, she certainly isn't alone. Young celebrities like Ariana Grande, Lili Reinhart, Camilla Cabello, and Hailey Bieber have all been open about dealing with the symptoms of anxiety and depression and raised awareness of mental health issues in the process. 

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Jet Li made Mulan for Jada

The things dads do for their little girls. Jet Li had stepped back from Hollywood for over a decade when he was approached to star in the live-action rendition of "Mulan." He wasn't initially keen on the prospect until his then 15-year-old daughter, Jada Li, asked him three questions. In an interview with Extra Butter, Jet explained that his youngest child made him take pause, reflect, and ultimately agree to appear in the movie. 

First, Jada asked if her father was proud to promote Chinese culture and if this project promoted their shared beliefs. Of course, he answered yes. Second, she asked if he needed the money. No, he replied. Lastly, young and wise beyond her years, Jada asked her famous father if he would make the movie for her — he couldn't say no. 

While agreeing to the film was easy thanks to his kid, the filming process proved far more difficult for the seasoned professional. Per Yahoo! Life, Jet struggled with the heavy and ill-fitting costumes and the dialogue required for the role. "Making English-speaking movies is not easy for me. I'm very lazy at learning English. Well, any foreign language. So, that's why I appreciated my dialogue coach, who worked with me to help me with my lines," he explained. In the end, the martial arts legend contributed his genius to a film that he and his daughter could be proud of.