Did you know the author of Corinne's books, Wendy Wan-Long Shang, went to law school? I didn't know this until today, when the University of Virginia School of Law posted an article about their former student, who happens to be Wendy!
Wendy came to the University of Virginia in 1986 and decided to go into law school after taking classes on the Supreme Court. After, she started as a research assistant and then trained as an advocate for abused and neglected children, working for an attorney and then becoming a juvenile justice attorney herself for the American Bar Association. After she got married to another lawyer, who now works for the US Department of Justice, she retired from law to raise their children, but in 2006, she decided that she wanted to write children's books. She took classes, published her first book in 2011, and set forth on a path that would lead her to be chosen to write Corinne's series.
Her legal career and experiences being an Asian-American inspired the aspect of Corinne's story where she deals with racism and hatred for being Chinese-American. She returned to law part-time in 2016 at the Pretrial Research Institute in Baltimore, focusing on racial equity in pretrial systems, and that work inspired her to write the stories she writes about racism. “Talking about race and racism in a thoughtful way has become an important focus in the children’s literature world.", Wendy said. "I’m grateful I have jobs that enrich each other.” She also said, "When I was a kid and I had to deal with comments … you’re just in shock. Part of the reason I became a writer is that I wanted to have every snappy comeback that I didn’t have as a kid.”
When Wendy was growing up, Asians were only supporting characters in stories, and she didn't see herself represented. In college, she watched Red Sorghum, a Chinese movie. As she watched the debut of Gong Li, a new actress that would go on to be one of China's biggest stars, she felt represented for the first time. "Seeing Gong Li’s face flit across the screen finally affirmed to me the beauty of my own people. I was finally able to enjoy fully realized women taking charge of their own lives.”
It's awesome that Corinne can be to Asian-American girls what Gong Li was to Wendy. I have a friend at school that moved to where I live from China a few years ago, and when I told her about Corinne, she was so happy! I'm glad AG is representing more people in their dolls.