Mei Chang is an older inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary. She also works at the commissary and is first seen in the prison cafeteria, eating with the "Others". Chang is portrayed by Lori Tan Chinn. Chang escapes from the prison during the riot, but is then revealed to have been found shortly after.
Chang is a quiet person who rarely speaks. She is liked by many of her fellow inmates for this reason. Chang often isolates herself from the other inmates and remains asocial, this may be why Chang works in a job which does not require many other inmates.
In flashbacks, Chang is seen to be gutsy and fearless. It is hinted that she was attracted to her business partner, Fu, but the attraction did not seem to be mutual. Despite this, he is seen to respect her and fulfills the promise he owes her for saving his life. She is described by Carmen Aziza as "annoying as fuck."
Chang typically wears a grey long-sleeved shirt underneath her tan prison jumpsuit. She has short, black hair, and is older than most of the inmates. In the first season, it appears Chang has facial hair on the corners of her mouth. This disappears in the second season onwards. Chang is very little and moves with short, fast steps.
In flashbacks, she is shown to suffer from a skin condition on her face when she arrives from China. Months later, it seems to be less noticeable. Chang weighs 108 pounds.
For a list of episodes featuring Chang's flashbacks, see here.
Chang grew up in the Chinese province of Hebei. In America in the 1980's, Chang's brother, Lin Chang, attempted to sell her as a wife to a rich man through the help of a matchmaker. When the man, Sun Zhang, rejected her because of her appearance (a skin condition, possibly dermatitis), she offered to work in the family shop with her brother, Lin Chang, selling traditional Chinese medicine, that dealt illegal animal parts on the side. When her brother was not given his bear bile because of a setback on delivery, she offered herself up to assist in the transactions. On one delivery occasion, she noticed that the dealer was trying to rip them off by giving them ping pong balls instead of turtle eggs from Venezuela, thus starting a fight between the dealer and her business partner, Fu. She knocks the dealer unconscious just as he is about to shoot Fu and Fu declares that he owes her.
She later exacts revenge on the man who rejected her for marriage by telling Fu and his men to cut out his gallbladder ("Ching Chong Chang").
It is implied that she was romantically attracted to Fu, and was saddened by the fact that she could not be with him.
Chang works as a cashier at the prison commissary.
She is seen giving the girls a bag of oranges for Tricia Miller's memorial party. She otherwise does not seem to involve herself in any of the high school-like antics and gossip that plagues the other inmates' time in prison.
Because of this, she is generally liked by her fellow inmates, and is chosen by a vote to represent both the "Golden Girls" and the "Others" when counselor Sam Healy forms the Women's Advisory Council ("WAC Pack").
Brook Soso becomes Chang's new roommate.
In "A Whole Other Hole", Chang is seen to judge a competition between Nicky Nichols and Big Boo to see who can get the most points in a sex competition (higher points are awarded for more "difficult" conquests).
Chang tends to keep to herself during meals and free time. She is shown to have a cell phone stashed away in a shed that she watches a sitcom on, and receives a delivery of oranges from an unspecified person through a hole in the perimeter fence. Chang also likes to make her own food in the microwave using ingredients she gets from the dining room and the commissary ("Ching Chong Chang"). She dips her feet into an unknown solution (Most likely animal blood, following the dead tradition of foot binding) for extended amounts of time. When Soso asks what the solution is for, Chang does not respond ("Where My Dreidel At").
Chang's isolation is focused on in "Ching Chong Chang". Piper and Alex openly make fun of Chang when they see her brushing her teeth with salt. Later, Chang is accidentally hit in the back of the head by a basketball and no-one apologizes. Chang faces the players and says, "not cool". Maureen Kukudio tells Chang to throw it back, but Chang walks away and Kukudio calls her a dick.
Chang writes a script for Berdie Rogers' drama class about her encounter with Sun Zhang, which is performed by Angie Rice and Sister Ingalls. The subject matter is "past resentments", but when Ingalls objects, Berdie stops the performance, saying that she thinks Chang took the instruction a little too literally. Suzanne says she enjoyed it, but it is met with stony silence from the other inmates, ostracizing Chang.
Later, Piper apologizes for making fun of Chang. Chang thanks her. ("Thank you, lesbian.")
Chang plays a very minimal role in this season. During "Work That Body For Me", she briefly addresses Piper, who isn't interested in joining the rest of the inmates at the lake. She tells Piper she's going to enjoy the hot showers while they're completely free. Chang is only briefly seen again in "Doctor Psycho" and "Piece of Shit"..
Because Big Boo and Pennsatucky have taken over the commissary, Chang is not able to get in. She asks the girls to give her Dr. Scholl's gel inserts, calcium tabs, a radio, four pencils, and some honey, which they agree to. ("Riot FOMO") Caputo, Janae, Josh, Taystee, Black Cindy and Alison pass Chang who is sitting outside the chapel where the "show" is happening, she states "You in flavour country" while both using a vapor pen and smoking a cigarette simultaneously. ("Fuck, Marry, Frieda")
In The Tightening Chang is found duct-taped in the Poo when Linda Ferguson tries to talk to Joe Caputo through the Poo. This is discovered when Linda believes Caputo is giving her the silent treatment but instead, Chang responds from inside.
Near the end of the season she finds the hole Ruiz made in the fence and leaves the prison campus saying "See you later motherfuckers!"
Chang was transferred to the ICE Detention Center that was built on former Litchfield Minimum Security building. She complains about how much the building has changed and the open floor design. ("Here's Where We Get Off")
- "Hey, lesbians. My eyes squinty, but ears work fine."
- — Chang to Piper and Alex ("Ching Chong Chang")
- "That's not a phone either..." "What is it?" "A DICK!"
- — Chang and Morello, doing improv in Berdie Rogers' drama class. ("Empathy Is a Boner Killer")
- "Nobody knows you, gangsta with an A."
- — Chang to Piper ("Work That Body For Me")
- "Fuck you, cracker."
- — Chang to Doggett ("Ching Chong Chang")
- "I think Miss Rosa get cancer from that lake."
- — Chang to Piper ("Work That Body For Me")
- "See you later, thug life."
- — Chang to Piper ("Work That Body For Me")
- "My fingers smell like an old tennis ball."
- — Chang
- " Not cool."
- — Chang ("Ching Chong Chang")
- "All Fake. Showbiz."
- — Chang to the inmates at drama class, after Sister Ingalls and Berdie Rogers stopped the re-enactment of Chang's memory of resentment. ("Ching Chong Chang")
- "Shitty remodel. Look at this. Open plan architecture is the worst."
- — Chang following her arrival at the ICE detention centre. ("Here's Where We Get Off")
Whilst the real-life inspiration for Chang does not feature in the memoir, Kerman mentions "one tiny Chinese woman in her sixties." It is possible that Kerman was referring to Cheng Chui Ping, known as 'Sister Ping' who was arrested in 2000 and also incarcerated at FCI Danbury. Cheng did not speak much English which isolated her from other inmates and this is reflected in Chang's character.
- Chang's nickname in Chinese is 小張 (trad.) / 小张 (simp.) Xiǎo Zhāng, meaning "Little Zhang".
|Orange Is the New Black: Season One|
|"I Wasn't Ready":||"Tit Punch":||"Lesbian Request Denied":||"Imaginary Enemies":||"The Chickening":||"WAC Pack":||"Blood Donut":|
|"Moscow Mule":||"Fucksgiving":||"Bora Bora Bora":||"Tall Men with Feelings":||"Fool Me Once":||"Can't Fix Crazy":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Two|
|"Thirsty Bird":||"Looks Blue, Tastes Red":||"Hugs Can Be Deceiving":||"A Whole Other Hole":||"Low Self Esteem City":||"You Also Have a Pizza":||"Comic Sans":|
|"Appropriately Sized Pots":||"40 Oz. of Furlough":||"Little Mustachioed Shit":||"Take a Break From Your Values":||"It Was the Change":||"We Have Manners. We're Polite.":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Three|
|"Mother's Day":||"Bed Bugs and Beyond":||"Empathy Is a Boner Killer":||"Finger in the Dyke":||"Fake It Till You Fake It Some More":||"Ching Chong Chang":||"Tongue-Tied":|
|"Fear, and Other Smells":||"Where My Dreidel At":||"A Tittin' and a Hairin'":||"We Can Be Heroes":||"Don't Make Me Come Back There":||"Trust No Bitch":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Four|
|"Work That Body for Me":||"Power Suit":||"(Don't) Say Anything":||"Doctor Psycho":||"We'll Always Have Baltimore":||"Piece of Shit":||"It Sounded Nicer in My Head":|
|"Friends in Low Places":||"Turn Table Turn":||"Bunny, Skull, Bunny, Skull":||"People Persons":||"The Animals":||"Toast Can't Never Be Bread Again":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Five|
|"Riot FOMO":||"Fuck, Marry, Frieda":||"Pissters!":||"Litchfield's Got Talent":||"Sing It, White Effie":||"Flaming Hot Cheetos, Literally":||"Full Bush, Half Snickers":|
|"Tied to the Tracks":||"The Tightening":||"The Reverse Midas Touch":||"Breaking the Fiberboard Ceiling":||"Tattoo You":||"Storm-y Weather":|
|Orange Is the New Black: Season Seven|
|"Beginning of the End":||"Just Desserts":||"And Brown Is the New Orange":||"How to Do Life":||"Minority Deport":||"Trapped in an Elevator":||"Me as Well":|
|"Baker's Dozen":||"The Hidey Hole":||"The Thirteenth":||"God Bless America":||"The Big House":||"Here's Where We Get Off":|