CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Interview: Meiling Jin Premieres Made-in-Chicago ‘Chop Chop TV Show’ on Dec. 22, 2016
CHICAGO – Tenacity and purpose reaps benefits, and no one knows this more than hard-working Chicago journalist, actress, producer and model Meiling Jin. She is the producer and lead actress in the new made-in-Chicago sitcom, “Chop Chop TV Show” (AKA “Chop Chop”), premiering on December 22nd, 2016 (11pm CST), on Comcast, Xfinity, WOW and RCN broadcast systems Channel 25. The show combines Ms. Jin, her roommate, and her diverse friendships in a series of adventures and misadventures in the great city of Chicago.
Meiling Jin was born in northeastern China, and emigrated to the United States in 2007. After graduating from Columbia College here, she began a career covering the Chicago scene – including premiere Red Carpet events – for Chinese television. She has since expanded into modeling, acting and producing, and “Chop Chop” is part of her Studio Meiling Productions. During the first season, the production used 50 actors and crew, all from Chicago.
Meiling Jin Shows Off Diversity in ‘Chop Chop TV Show’
Photo credit: Studio Meiling Productions
On the evening of the “Chop Chop” premiere, Meiling Jin talked to HollywoodChicago.com regarding the show and her life in America.
HollywoodChicago.com: Why do you think ‘Chop Chop TV Show’ is a series that is ready for its premiere?
Meiling Jin: Racial diversity is a buzz word in the media now, and Chicago has the talent that makes it easy to be very racially diverse. We just do it - it’s simple. ‘Chop Chop’ has the ‘millennial tech’ of cell phones, phone apps and computers. Our comedy is original and unusual – we have experimented with ways of engaging the audience by the breaking of the fourth wall, and we’ve filled our stories with conflict and happiness – plus most all episodes have humorous outtakes. We want our audience to realize that we are real people, that they can relate to our adventures and they could possibly see themselves joining us.
HollywoodChicago.com: You come from China and lived in and observed America from that standpoint. What is in ‘Chop Chop’ that best represents that observation?
Jin: There is opportunity in our show. My character is trying to become a famous journalist, and the Ivy character is trying to create her own reality show. Both of these situations are nearly impossible in China without a business affiliation. Because of the great freedoms America offers, we’ve also have created a show that also would not be socially possible in China. Its lead character is a Chinese lesbian who engages in same sex kissing, open LGBT content and related comedy. In America, these types of situations can be openly discussed, but when I lived in China these topics would be avoided in the media, and completely not spoken about in public.
We try to avoid stereotypes in our show. We avoid the fresh-off-the-boat humor, except for a few jokes. The script is as colorblind as possible and we try to show that all people are just people. We want it to look like the people you see in downtown Chicago.
HollywoodChicago.com: You’ve remarked to me before that doing this series has been a step-by-step learning process. Which part of that process has been most enlightening for you?
Jin: The method of creating comedy through the filming and editing process was a long and slow learning process. Many scripts had to be rewritten, re-shot, actors changed, and re-edited again. Creating laughs through conflict, and then resolving all issues within 22 minutes is a challenge. The editing process is critical to getting the comedy in the right place – ‘timing’ is critical. And unlike movies, sitcoms are nearly non-stop dialogue.
’Chop Chop’ Premieres on Thursday, December 22nd
Photo credit: Studio Meiling Productions
HollywoodChicago.com: You do a lot of interviews for Chinese television. What feedback from your native country has been most satisfying to you?
Jin: The people who watch my interviews see that I’m always active, and I create excitement. The feedback has been they consider me a friend and role model, because I have broken the typical ‘female journalist’ image. I’m hoping that I am encouraging Chinese women to chase their dreams and overcome their obstacles.
HollywoodChicago.com: If you had a roomful of people, and you were about to show ‘Chop Chop’ to them, what would be your introduction, and what key line would make them most curious?
Jin: I would introduce it by simply saying, ‘This is a show about friendships without borders of race, culture or gender identities.’ We believe our unique content and premise is a first in America. We created the show to make people laugh and to make people happy, and there are no typical industry rules for us.