Meet the Characters
The Beijing Family book series is based in greater Los Angeles. I developed the diverse mix of characters from this urban metropolis where people come from all walks of life and backgrounds in the City of Angels.
The main character of 'The Beijing Family' book series is Kara Chan. She is a licensed Calif. real estate broker who is the owner of a real estate brokerage and investment company. Graduated with an MBA, Kara is intelligent, ambitious, strong and independent. She donates her time to charities and helping homeless women and children. Caring and insightful, she is the core of the book and moves the story lines. I developed Kara as a reflection of myself in many ways since the book series is inspired from real people and events from my own personal life. If I had to choose a public figure to represent Kara, I would choose Lisa Ling, an American journalist for 'Our America'.
In the book, Kara Chan's boyfriend is Eden Malone, a Harvard graduated African-American attorney working in Hong Kong and fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. Intelligent and articulate, he is always the voice of reason and logic in the midst of chaos and drama. He is the founder and CEO of the Mosaic Center in Los Angeles that helps inner city children in Los Angeles. He cares for Kara Chan deeply. When I was developing his character, I was thinking of him resembling the American actor, Shemar Moore. Currently portraying Derek Morgan, FBI special agent on 'Criminal Minds'.
When I was developing the character, Simon Wang, the Chinese billionaire in the book series, I chose certain characteristics from actual Chinese tycoons that were my clients/business associates. In the book, Simon Wang is a worldly and successful manufacturing tycoon with plants throughout the world. The one area in his life that he lacks control over is his own family matters that bewilder and sometimes stun him. Raised in poverty during the Mao regime of the 1960's-70's, he only has a sixth grade education and worked hard to overcome obstacles to achieve his success. With deep roots to China when it was once agrarian, he is humble, simple and non-asssuming. Liang Wengen is the closest I can think of to Simon Wang. Liang Wengen is the chairman of Sany Group — one of China’s largest construction equipment manufacturers. He is 57 yrs. old and worth $11 billion.
Wang Si Moh or "Grandma Moh"
Meet Grandma Moh, the loud, feisty and highly opinionated mother of the Chinese billionaire living in their Beverly Hills mansion. Mired in "old China", she is a relic straight out of the Cultural Revolution with constant fears of the next invasion of the Red Army soldiers and approaching famine. She practices traditional Chinese medicine in their gourmet kitchen and has issues with touch screen panels. Always on the giving end of unsolicited advice and opinions, she surprises her newfound friends in Beverly Hills with her ancient wisdom throughout the book series. I don't have a shortage of material in developing the Grandma Moh character. I simply resort to my mother, my aunts, their friends, my friends' mothers/aunts and countless older generation Chinese women. Photo of an old Chinese woman is from Google.
Greg Wang is Simon's only child. Raised in a one child policy generation, he is a privileged son that grew up in modern China, far different from his father's past. When Greg's father was of similar age, he toiled on a commune farm during the Mao regime and eagerly ate cooked rice infested with feces leftover by thieving rats during widespread famine. Unlike his father, Greg attended prestigious international schools in Beijing. His favorite meal is steak with spaghetti, plays with every techie gadget and is raised in a life of comfort that his father never had. Bilingual in both English and Mandarin, he is tall, healthy and talented and trained in martial arts. He is attending a private high school in Beverly Hills. He will soon be enrolling into an American college, which is his father's dream and whole purpose of moving to Beverly Hills. When I was developing Greg, young Asian actors like Ji Soo is what I had in mind. Ji trained in judo and competed in national competitions.
Ling is Simon's niece that arrives from Beijing in 'The Beijing Youths'. She inherited all the beauty and charm in the family and was recently crowned Miss Beijing. A year older than Greg, she enrolls at UCLA and is a freshman. Her Uncle Simon encourages her to meet new American friends now that she's in Los Angeles. Slowly, she immerses herself in her new Western world which is daunting and intriguing at the same time. Eventually, she meets new friends and develops a special friendship with Cole that can possibly lead to romance. When I was developing Ling, I was thinking of the Chinese actress from Hong Kong, Kibby Lau.
Lulu is Ling's best friend that came along with her from Beijing. A beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog, she is more well fed and groomed than all the migrant workers in China. Lulu has her own WeChat and Twitter account and now roams happily in her spacious new home in Beverly Hills.
Ling meets Cole during her freshman year at UCLA. Their friendship and developing romance spans across the entire book series - except Book 3. His family lives in nearby Bel Air. Cole is tall, blonde and a polite gentleman. Captain of the swim team, he is a fast swimmer and a young and confident student majoring in pre-med in hopes to practice sports medicine. When I was writing about Diesel, I was thinking of Liam Hemsworth, the Aussie actor who was in 'Hunger Games' and 'Expendables 2'.
Tayshawn Deion Jackson is a young African American youth in his early 20's and a member of the Mosaic Center. Raised in a low income inner city family, Eden Malone introduced him to the Mosaic Center years ago and has guided him as his mentor. Highly talented as a hip hop dancer, he is a member of Revolution6, a dance crew that battles in hip hop dance competitions in Los Angeles. In 'The Beijing Youths', he becomes good friends with Greg Wang who adds Far East movements into their dance routines and they win the toughest dance competitions. When I was developing Tayshawn's character, I was thinking of Columbus Short in particular for his dancing abilities. He is a choreographer, actor and singer. He performed a solo dance in the empty pool scene in 'Stomp The Yard' and has choreographed Britney Spear's concert.
Latrecia Kadeja Jackson is a young African American female in her late 20's that is Tayshawn's older sister. She is also a frequenter at the Mosaic Center and is mentored by Eden Malone. She is strong minded, opinionated, sassy and not about to let anyone cross her in any way. Latecia is a pivotal character in 'The Beijing Ghosts'. She learns that she is gifted with psychic intuition and gives spiritual advice which becomes essential throughout the book. I had Whoopi Goldberg in the movie, 'Ghosts' in mind when I was writing about Latecias's character.
Revolution6 Dance Crew is the hip hop dance team that includes Greg, Tayshawn and other members - Rudy, Brooklyn, JT and Tevin. Rev6 makes their debut in 'The Beijing Youths', to win many dance competitions. When I was developing this dance crew, I was thinking of Jabbawockeez, a hip hop dance crew that won the first season of Americas Best Dance Crew. They now perform for the mega-resorts in Las Vegas.
Misty is a bubbly red-headed assistant to Kara Chan in her company, KC Real Estate Inc. She understands the Chinese culture and has a working knowledge of the Mandarin language from helping Kara's clients. I imagined Misty looking a bit like Emma Stone when I was developing her character.
Chloe Yang is a young beautiful single female in her mid 20's. She is a mistress to a Chinese billionaire. She hopes that she will soon harpoon a Chinese tycoon husband of her own before she turns 30. Chloe appears in 'The Beijing Beauties'.
Jin ChengSingle, very successful and 38 years old. Jin Cheng is deemed a 'leftover' woman or Sheng Nu in China. Men find her intimidating and their mothers consider her too ambitious, independent and non-traditional for marriage. In 'The Beijing Beauties', Jin is matchmade to an American financier where she heard that American men can appreciate a strong and independent woman like her. When I was developing her character, I was thinking of Zhang Xin, the CEO and founder of SOHO China, the largest commercial real estate developer in Beijing and Shanghai.
Dana or "Peaches"
Dana or "Peaches" is a bright, outgoing and highly dramatic realtor and a personal stylist for celebrities and the well heeled in Beverly Hills. He meets Kara while she visits one of his mansion listings in 'The Beijing Family'. When I was developing the Peaches character, I was thinking of Jeremy Piven who played the gay outspoken and brash sales clerk that was flirting with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2.
In 'The Beijing Family', Kara brings Simon Wang to view a mansion for sale in Beverly Hills and they meet Nasreen, a bubbly, high energy and aggressive Persian realtor with a pear shaped figure and a huge flower pinned to her jacket. With Persians representing approximately 20% of the population in Beverly Hills, I developed Nasreen mainly from personal experience in working with many Persian realtors in Beverly Hills. Kathy Najimy, the funny, talented and witty Lebanese American actress in the movie, 'Sister Act' comes to mind when I think of Nasreen.