Highland Park native Lauren Tom discusses road to Disney Channel stardom

CHICAGO (WLS) -- 'Andi Mack' is the No. 1 series on the Disney Channel. Today Lauren Tom, the star who plays Andi Mack's grandmother, returned to her hometown to speak before nearly 400 Chicago Public School students.

"It feels wonderful to come back to Chicago with this kind of reception," she said.

Tom grew up in Highland Park. Her first showbiz gig was dancing in 'A Chorus Line.'

"I was 17, really good dancer but I couldn't act or sing, so they trained me on the road on those things," she said. "My fellow castmates said, 'You should study acting.' Best advice they gave me."

From Broadway to Hollywood, Tom has appeared in TV shows and movies over the last 30 years, including 'Friends,' 'Facts of Life,' 'The Middle' and 'Grey's Anatomy.'

Tom now stars in 'Andi Mack' as a Chinese-American grandmother and said she's proud to be part of such a diverse and inclusive show.

"You've got a show starring three Asian women, and when had that ever happened before?" she said.

Tom spoke to the students as part of the U.S. Asia Institute's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and told them to be themselves.

"It's OK to be who you are, and you're not alone," she said. "At the end of the day, what people want is to connect and belong."

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