‘American Born Chinese’: Meet the Characters of Disney+’s New Series

Michelle Yeoh, Ben Wang, and Daniel Wu for 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Disney+‘s adaptation of American Born Chinese is ready to kick some butt on the streamer as the coming-of-age series serves up exciting comedy, drama, and kung fu action.

Based on Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel, American Born Chinese tells the story of Jin Wang (Ben Wang), a regular American teenager whose life is forever changed after meeting Wei-Chen (Jim Liu), the son of a mythological god, whose presence on Earth disrupts Jin’s day-to-day life. The show’s interpretation is primarily helmed by showrunner Kelvin Yu and director Destin Daniel Cretton, who also executive produces with Yang, who says, “Kelvin took the essence of my graphic novel and he re-expanded into the shape of eight episodes of television.”

“He expanded the world of Jin by giving more prominent roles to his parents, and he also expanded the world of the Chinese Gods,” Yang further sings Yu’s praises.

Below, the cast offers insight into their roles and what viewers can anticipate from their characters in the adaptation. Scroll down for a peek behind the curtain.

American Born Chinese, Series Premiere, Wednesday, May 24, Disney+

Ben Wang from 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Jin Wang (Ben Wang)

At the center of this story is Jin, who Wang says is “sort of an average American teenager who’s just trying his best.” While speaking to TV Insider, the young actor noted that Jin “wants to join the [soccer] team and he wants to get the girl and he wants all of these things, but it’s difficult for him because Oscar award-winning actors keep crashing through his ceiling and fighting cow demons and telling him he needs to save the world.” That’s just a small tease for the kind of epic shenanigans viewers will encounter when they tune in, with Wang referencing the recent Oscar-winning success of his co-stars who featured in Everything Everywhere All at Once. “So it’s a whole thing that he has to go through, but it’s a classic coming-of-age story on his part.”

Sydney Taylor for 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Amelia (Sydney Taylor)

Amelia is Jin’s classmate who Taylor says is a “friend and crush.” But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to her character. “Because the story’s told through his eyes, that’s largely how we see her for a little bit. But as the story continues, we get to see that she is also a person, not just there for [Jin] to look at.” Taylor adds that viewers will get “to see her own issues with herself and her identity,” which parallels Jin’s journey.

Daniel Wu in 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Sun Wukong, The Monkey King (Daniel Wu)

Unlike Guanyin, Sun Wukong doesn’t like “being human as much as he likes being a monkey,” Wu says of his character. Based on the God in Chinese mythology, the actor says, “everyone knows his story” but in this iteration, he’s able “to play this character with a new twist on it.” For instance, “he’s now a father and he’s dealing with this father-son relationship.”

Michelle Yeoh in 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Guanyin, The Goddess of Mercy (Michelle Yeoh)

The Goddess of Mercy “has the same mission as she did many, many thousands of years ago with the Monkey King when he was young,” Yeoh explains. “She had to keep an eye on him, and now she’s keeping an eye on his son. So it seems that history keeps repeating itself.” Besides watching over The Monkey King’s son, Quanyin also takes up an affinity for living like a human, embracing Ikea furniture and enjoying buffets.

Yeo Yann Yann in 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Christine Wang (Yeo Yann Yann)

“We really ground the family life,” Yeo Yann Yann says of her and Chin Han’s role as Jin’s parents, Christine and Simon. “There are tender moments, there are feisty moments between the parents, and there are strong moments.” In reference to the feisty moments Yeo Yann Yann brings up, things aren’t always calm at the family home as Christine and Simone don’t always see eye to eye.

Chin Han in 'American Born Chinese'
Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja

Simon Wang (Chin Han)

Struggling to provide for the family is one aspect of Chin Han’s character. “We’re trying to break ceilings at the workplace or socially,” the actor shares. But what’s most interesting to him is the question that follows. “Once you have fought for your place at the table, what are you gonna do with that place?” It’s a question that viewers will see answered throughout Simon and Christine’s journey this season.