When you talk to any of the cast of The Family Law, the one thing all of them will say is how close knit they all are. They're a family both on screen and off. It must be intimidating to join the cast of the show, as Jing-Xuan Chan did in the show's second season.
Series creator Benjamin Law interviewed new cast member Jing-Xuan Chan about taking on the role of Ming Zhu.
If you could describe Ming-Zhu in three words, what would they be? And why?
Self-assured: she’s confident and at ease with who she is. Unfiltered: she’s more than comfortable with saying what she’s thinking. She has an opinion on everyone and is happy to tell you about it… in just a little bit too much detail. Sexy: no explanation necessary!
Tell us about Ming-Zhu: who is she and what’s her story?
Ming-Zhu is a businesswoman from mainland China who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. People would be well advised not to stand in her way – even Jenny Law!
What does she add to The Family Law that wasn’t there before?
The character of Ming-Zhu acts as a wonderful and hilarious new obstacle and challenge for the Laws to deal with. She shakes things up in series two – especially for Danny.
What about Ming-Zhu’s character resonated with you?
What I really like and admire about Ming-Zhu is how unapologetic she is and how comfortable she is in her own skin. I could learn a thing or two from her!
As an actor, how did you prepare for the role?
One of the main things I had to work on in preparation for this role was the accent. Ming-Zhu comes from China and has a distinct accent that’s different to my own. Finding her voice was one of the fun parts of getting into character.
What were the biggest challenges about playing Ming-Zhu?
The role of Ming-Zhu is quite different to me in a lot of ways (her voice, her physicality), so discovering how to play and embody her was quite challenging. This character is also absolutely hysterical and larger than life so another challenge for me was not to get too swept up in the comedy of it all. Amidst all the funny one-liners, I still had to ensure I was portraying a three-dimensional human being as we didn’t want her to end up as a caricature.
What did you love about playing Ming-Zhu?
Ming-Zhu has so many hilarious, juicy lines that were just so fun to play! Also, I had a great time playing dress-ups in her over-the-top costumes. Fabulous!
Tell us about working with the cast, especially Anthony Brandon Wong (Danny) and Fi Choi (Jenny).
Best. Cast. Ever. The casting team has brought together such a wonderful group of actors – they really do feel like a genuine family. Joining this show as a big fan of series one, it was a little daunting, but from day one everyone made me feel super welcome and were so kind to me. I already knew Anthony so I was excited to work with him again, but Fi and the actors playing the kids were all new to me. It was such a blast getting to join the team and to stir up some trouble for the Law family this season!
What were your impressions of The Family Law series one?
Apart from the heart and humour of the show, what struck me most was how relatable it was. It was like watching my own family or stepping into the family home of my childhood friends.
Why is onscreen diversity in Australia important to you?
Growing up, I didn’t see many faces on Australian TV that looked like mine so it is incredibly encouraging and exciting to see shows like The Family Law, Redfern Now, Here Come the Habibs!, Newton’s Law and others that are more reflective of the Australia we live in. Seeing ourselves onscreen is an affirmation that our voices matter and that our stories have a place.
You look familiar – where might we have seen you before?
I've worked in theatre with companies such as the Malthouse and the Melbourne Theatre Company, and also have done some TV work on shows including Dirt Game, City Homicide and Winners & Losers.
What’s next for you?
I've just come home from being overseas and have only just started jumping back into auditioning, so I’m looking forward to finding out what’s coming up next for me, too!
The Family Law airs on SBS every Thursday night at 8:30pm. New episodes and the entire first season are streaming now via SBS On Demand: