You might call JuJu Chang the new Connie Chung. As news anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America since December of 2009 and a regular contributor to 20/20, Chang is undoubtedly America’s most visible Asian female talking head. And like Chung, Chang converted to Judaism after marrying a prominent TV industry Jew.
Chang’s journalism credentials include an Emmy for recent coverage of California wildfires and a Gracie for a 20/20 piece on gender equality in the sciences. She has shown interest in the health field with Nightline reports on in vitro fertilization, the diet industry and the Heparin tainting scandal. Her more offbeat stories include Tanzanian albinos, a family coping with the father’s gender change operation and a Texas mom sentenced to life for poisoning her foster son.
Chang also bolstered her serious journalism bona fides with awards for PBS pieces on judicial activism and women’s health, and as a White House correspondent.
Equally important for a journalist who appears bound to plant herself deeply in American family rooms, Chang has shown flair for the warmer, fuzzier side of journalism with her JuJu Juggles video blog on motherhood which ended last November as she prepared to join the GMA team.
JuJu Chang was born in Seoul, Korea. Her immigrant family struggled during her childhood in California. JuJu would later tell her husband that her family was not religious and that she was often confused by ethical issues of right and wrong.
But there seemed to be absolute clarity of purpose at least in the mind of her father Chang Pal-gi. To toughen up his four daughters, he taught them to swim, then forced them to wake up at 5 every morning to swim for an hour before going to school. His wife recalls Pal-gi’s extreme nationalistic pride in Samsung’s success in rising to the top of the U.S. consumer electronics market.
One possible source of JuJu Chang’s steely determination to climb the network ladder is her father’s own determination to reject the second-class mentality associated with many immigrants.
“I told my children that they are not immigrants to the United States,” he was quoted by Korean news agency Yonhap. “I told them to live a life with the mindset of being a conqueror. It’s because I didn’t want them to suffer from the minority complex in a foreign country.”
His apparent determination to pressure his kids into assimilating seems to have produced the desired result. He noted that all four of his daughters are married to “Americans”, by which he appears to mean Caucasians.
“My four son-in-laws are all well-mannered,” Chang’s mother added, apparently to reassure the Yonhap reporter that they had been properly conquered and tamed. “On major Korean holidays, they visit us here and bow down before me and my husband just like children in Korea do,” she confided to Yonhap.
By high school JuJu had shown herself to be adept at public speaking as well as academics. She won admission into both Harvard and Stanford, and chose the latter to be close to her family. She majored in politics and communication and graduated with honors. She also won the Edwin Cotrell Political Science Prize.
Chang began her TV career as a producer and off-air reporter for World News Tonight. She got started in on-air reporting for KGO-TV in San Francisco where she worked from 1995-96. In 1996 she moved to Washington, D.C. to cover the White House, Capitol Hill, and the 1996 presidential election for NewsOne, ABC’s affiliate news service. In 1999 Chang was promoted to anchoring the early morning newscasts of ABC News’, World News Now and World News This Morning. In 2000 she was again promoted to reporter for World News Tonight,.
JuJu Chang is married to Neal Shapiro, a onetime PBS producer who became CEO of New York’s PBS affiliate in September of 2008. They have three sons. Chang is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding board member of the Korean American Community Foundation.