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Monday April 11, 2011

Latest ‘gossip’ – ‘Yuki’ has roots in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: In the popular teen TV drama Gossip Girl, she is Nelly Yuki, an academic rival of a Queen Bee of the Manhattan and Constance Billard High School's social scene.

Prom girl: Yin Chang’s movie opens in Malaysian cinemas on June 9.

Not many know this, but American actress Yin Chang has her roots in Penang although she was born and raised in New York.

Her mother is Chew Bee Neo, a former Convent Green Lane pupil who captured the top prize in a children's art exhibition in Michigan in 1970 and decided to settle down there for good.

Bee Neo, now 47, is the eldest daughter of Malaysian abstract artist Dr Chew Teng Beng, who is also a Universiti Sains Malaysia associate professor.

Dr Chew, who holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the New York University, inherits his artistic skills from his father and grandfather, a calligrapher.

Clearly, creativity runs in the Chews.

Speaking fondly of the talented 23-year-old Yin Chang, the oldest of Bee Neo's three daughters, Dr Chew said she called him last month to say she was the female lead in Walt Disney Pictures' latest teenage flick, Prom.

“She didn't inform me earlier,” said the 73-year-old grandfather of four. “She wanted to surprise me.”

Dr Chew said his grandaughter invited him to attend the movie's premiere in Los Angeles on April 26.

Dr Chew had apparently played an instrumental role in persuading Yin Chang's parents to allow her to pursue an acting career.

“Her parents felt it was an unstable career. But I believe that it is wrong to give up on one's talent and asked them to let her go after her dreams,” said Dr Chew, whose own parents had wanted him to become a medical doctor.

“She likes to sing even when she was only six years old.”

Prom opens in Malaysian cinemas on June 9.

Beside her role in the movie and Gossip Girl, Yin Chang had also worked on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Six Degrees.

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