Meiling Chin has created an empire in media in just a short time. While born and raised in China, Chin eventually arrived in America to make her mark. In high school she began writing for QQ.com, the sixth-largest website in the world, and by the age of 21 she had garnered 100 million hits on various websites with celebrity interviews and news. She contributed to danlan.org, China's largest LGBT website, for its 15 million subscribers. On camera she took an HIV test to spread knowledge about the importance of safe sex to China.
Not only did she model in Chicago but went on to receive a college degree at Columbia College for broadcast journalism.
She created Studio Meiling Productions, LLC, and its first project, the multi-camera sitcom called Chop Chop TV Show. She stars, directs and edits this LGBT-centered project.
Windy City Times: What part of China are you from?
Meiling Jin: I am from the north in Liaoning Province. It is about ten hours train ride plus a taxi ride from Beijing. It is pretty much the same temperature as Chicago.
WCT: How did you end up in Chicago?
MJ: Because of my mother's marriage. We first moved to a small town in Illinois. I began writing and gaining followers. I wrote from my own experience starting from that. I went to conventions and wound up doing celebrity interviews.
When I went back to China three years ago, people remembered my stories such as the World Naked Bike Ride, [which] was super-shocking for them. I followed the Guardian Angels on the CTA to a dangerous neighborhood because I wanted to see it for myself. I constantly put myself into situations like this to give it a personal angle.
WCT: You did a story where you took an HIV test on camera?
MJ: Yes, I did that two years in a row. I wanted to promote safe sex and create awareness. It is a worldwide issue.
WCT: How did Chop Chop begin?
MJ: We started preproduction last year. There were a lot of things happening in the lives of myself and my best friend Ivy. We cast people and wrote stories using them. We made exaggeration of real life to create comedy.
Ivy is a real-life DePaul student, as she is on the show, and I am a news reporter. Everything is based out of reality.
One person in the cast, Shoghi, is gay and my character is a lesbian so we become good friends. We have another cast member named Victoria who wants to explore her sexuality. Our neighbor is named Doug who is a stand up comedian. Norma is my friend with benefits on the show who is transgender. There is a lot going on.
Overall, we try to make the sitcom really diverse. We have African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Asian Americans on the show. It was created colorblind and without stereotypes. We wanted to create a small intimate space for everyone.
WCT: Are you a lesbian in real lifeor do you just play one on TV?
MJ: I want that to remain a mystery. We don't ask the actors if they are gay or not. If they are comfortable with it then we can incorporate it into the story. If they are not then we do something else. We have one actor who is gay in real life but plays straight on the show.
WCT: Why is it called Chop Chop?
MJ: When we first started production we didn't have a name. We heard chop chop meant faster and to speed things along. We wanted to make our show fast paced.
The name can be confusing with some people thinking it is a cooking show!
WCT: Is the show translated into Chinese?
MJ: I started doing that, but some of the humor does not translate. Some of the language doesn't work or they wouldn't know the American history reference. The thing is Friends, Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls are all big hits in China.
I don't see too much trouble going into the Chinese market but it can be closed off when it comes to sexual orientation.
In my real life I write for China's biggest LGBT website and Blued, a gay app that is really popular there. I really want to help people in China become more open-minded.
WCT: I saw Windy City Times made an appearance on Chop Chop, with the current issue sitting on the table.
MJ: We try to make the show very Chicago!
Check out Chop Chop Thurs. at 11 p.m. Central on CBL25.