LOS ANGELES - She was selected by director Oliver Stone after thousands turned up to audition for a lead role in his 1993 film Heaven & Earth, about life in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
On Tuesday, Hiep Thi Le, 46, died in Los Angeles from complications from stomach cancer, reported trade publication Variety.
Her turn in the Stone movie opened the doors to other roles in film and television, such as Cruel Intentions and Green Dragon.
She also ventured into the restaurant business in California and showcased her skills in 2014 in the Food Network show called Chopped.
The actress, who was born in Vietnam and whose family relocated to the United States, leaves behind her husband, two children, six siblings and her parents.