Margaret Cho was raised in San Francisco. Her mother resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret’s father, who writes joke books in Korean. To escape bullying, Cho began writing jokes for stand up at 14 and professionally performing at age 16. Getting picked on and feeling disenfranchised are subjects very near to her heart. She has become a sort of “Patron Saint” for Outsiders, speaking for them when they are not able to speak for themselves.
Soon after starting her Stand Up career, Cho won a comedy contest, with the first prize of opening for Jerry Seinfeld. She performed over 300 concerts within two years. Arsenio Hall introduced her to late night audiences, and Bob Hope put her on a prime time special. Her short-lived, controversial ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994) soon followed. “For fear of being too “ethnic,” the show got so watered down for television that by the end, it was completely lacking in the essence of what I am and what I do.” Margaret developed an eating disorder as a response to criticism about her body and landed in the hospital with kidney failure. In 1999, her off Broadway one-woman show, I’m The One That I Want was made into a best-selling book and feature film of the same name. After her experience with All-American Girl, Margaret wanted to make sure she would only have to answer to herself, so she put herself in charge of the distribution and sales of her film. Two of her films were acquired by Showtime Cable Networks, and produced by Cho’s production company, a testament to the success of her bold business model.
In 2007, Cho hit the road with Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, and others to host the True Colors Tour. Margaret also created and starred in The Sensuous Woman, a live variety show featuring vaudevillian burlesque and comedy. For two seasons, Cho has played a sidekick in the Lifetime comedy series Drop Dead Diva. In 2010, she received a Grammy Award nomination for Comedy Album of the Year for the self released “Cho Dependent.” She was the recipient of the Victory Fund’s 2008 Leadership Award and the first ever Best Comedy Performance Award at the 2007 Asian Excellence Awards. She also received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU of Southern California, and the Intrepid Award from the National Organization for Women (NOW). Throughout her career, she has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and PFLAG for making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all.