Liu was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. She was born Lucy Liu, and added the middle name “Alexis” when she was in high school. She is the youngest of three children born to Cecilia, who worked as a biochemist, and Tom Liu, who was a civil engineer. Both of Liu’s parents were immigrants from Taiwan of Chinese descent. Her grandparents were born and raised in China. She has an older brother, John, and an older sister, Jenny. Liu has stated that she grew up in a “diverse” neighborhood. She learned to speak Mandarin Chinese at home and began studying English when she was five years old.