Her parents were amateurs in Beijing opera singing, and Rosalind Chao was in some small roles of some operas as a girl. She started shooting commercials at 7. After she graduated from Pomona College, her TV career began.
Chao played as Keiko O'Brien (née Ishikawa), a Japanese botanist, in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the founder and teacher of a school, the wife of engineer Miles O'Brien, and a mother of two.
Chao plays one of the eight main characters in The Joy Luck Club. However, her favourite role is a minor one in What Dreams May Come, where she played a flight attendant, the physical manifestation of the protagonist's dead daughter.
Rosalind Chao is a mother.