Neil Gaiman on the emotional making of Amazon’s ‘Good Omens’ and keeping ‘the promise that I made to my friend who died’ (AMZN)

Good Omens cast and crew

  • Cult fantasy author Neil Gaiman is debuting his most personal project to date, the series “Good Omens,” on Amazon on May 31. 
  • The TV adaptation of the 1990 novel fulfills a promise that Gaiman made to his “Good Omens” cowriter, the late Terry Pratchett, to turn their beloved book into a TV show. 
  • Gaiman served as a showrunner on the series — a first for him after more than two decades working in TV and film — so he could control the elements of the book that went into the show.
  • “I’m going to make a ‘Good Omens’ for Terry that Terry would love,” Gaiman told Business Insider.
  • The production involved two years of script writing on Gaiman’s part, 120 days of filming with more than 200 speaking parts, and a laborious 11 months of post-production. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Cult fantasy author Neil Gaiman is one of the most-adapted contemporary authors with at least six TV shows and movies based on his literary works, such as the movie, “Coraline,” and the TV shows “American Gods” and “Lucifer.”

His latest mini-series, called “Good Omens,” was his most complex and personal adaption, Gaiman told Business Insider, in an interview alongside series director Douglas Mackinnon.

“Good Omens,” which debuts on Amazon on May 31, is a fantasy series about the Antichrist who brings the end of the world, based on the 1990 novel by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. It’s one of the most ambitious projects to premiere from Amazon Studios, which is working on bigger, genre series including a “The Lord of the Rings” TV show. The production was also emotional for Gaiman, who adapted the book — which centers on an angel and a demon who are best friends — to fulfill the last wish of his friend, Pratchett. The author died in 2015, before “Good Omens” was picked up by coproducers Amazon and BBC Studios.

Good Omens on Amazon

“I got to make something incredibly personal,” Gaiman said. “I got to take the biggest thing the BBC Studios has made, the biggest thing on Amazon today, and come through on the promise that I made to my friend who died that I would make a television show that he would like and be proud of.”

Making a TV adaption that stays faithful to the book

Gaiman, who wrote and executive produced the series, also served as the showrunner — a first for him over more than two decades of writing for and working in TV and film. He oversaw every piece of the production, from budgeting to post-production, so that he could control the elements of the book that went into or were cut from the series.

“He wanted to see it before he died,” Gaiman said of Pratchett. “Then he died. So I’m going to make a ‘Good Omens’ for Terry that Terry would love.”

Amazon — which produced “Good Omens” along with BBC Studios, Gaiman’s The Blank Corporation, and Pratchett’s Narrativia — backed Gaiman’s vision for the version of “Good Omens” that Pratchett would’ve wanted to see, Gaiman said.

Gaiman and Mackinnon usually treat TV and film adaptions as different beasts than the books they are based on. “You’re making something else,” Mackinnon, who has directed episodes of TV adaptations including “Outlander” and “Sherlock,” said. “You have to admit that.”

But, with “Good Omens,” Gaiman did not want to compromise. The TV show stays true to the novel. Gaiman, Mackinnon, and the rest of the cast and crew committed to bringing the version of the book that Pratchett would have wanted to life, with its quirky characters and casual cups of tea in between plot points.

“I’m not sure if the word adaptation actually covers it,” Mackinnon said. “We just made ‘Good Omens.’ It’s like ‘Good Omens’ Plus.”

Behind the scenes on the making of “Good Omens”

The production started with Gaiman, who wrote the entire series himself. “For the first two years, it was basically me and a copy of the novel,” he said.

In 2017, after Gaiman had the six scripts and the series was picked up by BBC Studios and Amazon Studios, the show went into pre-production. Gaiman and Mackinnon had only a couple of months for pre-production, a fraction of what they should have had, Mackinnon said, because the show’s all-star cast was only available for a tight window. Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Nick Offerman, Frances McDormand, and Benedict Cumberbatch were in the series. There were more than 200 speaking parts overall.

“Good Omens” started shooting in London in September 2017, and filmed for a total of 120 days.

Post-production, which Mackinnon called the hardest post-production process he’s ever been a part of, took about 11 months. Gaiman and Mackinnon sat side by side in a London studio, staring at screens day in and day out, while overseeing the editing and visual effects.

Some days started at six in the morning with pickups, or scenes shot after principal photography to flush out the production, and ran until 10 at night or later. Others started at 8 a.m. and went on until 2 a.m. the following day. Those days involved editing and coordinating with actors — who, by that point, were all over the world working on other projects — on looping, or replacing the dialogue in scenes. Gaiman or Mackinnon might nod off during those long nights, and the other would take control.

“It was a fatal flaw and our grand plan for the two of us just to do it together,” Mackinnon said. Series usually have more than one director and several producers, he said. “But, if ‘Good Omens’ is distinctive at all, that’s because we did it. The very thing that is the tough thing is the original thing.”

Read more: ‘This is a big swing’: A New York Times exec explains the company’s push into prestige TV that starts with ‘The Weekly’ on FX and Hulu

On Friday, the series, which has gotten positive reviews from a solid share of critics, premieres on Amazon — six months before it airs weekly on BBC Two. It brings to an end Gaiman’s years-long journey to make “Good Omens.”

Two hundred and fifty members of the cast and crew reunited in London on Sunday to screen all six episodes of the finished product, many months after their involvement in the series wrapped. Gaiman and Mackinnon consider it a testament to how much the production touched those who worked on it.  

“It’s a bit dreamlike actually, a bit unreal,” Gaiman said of Friday’s series premiere. “We did it and that feels amazing.”

SEE ALSO: Inside The New York Times’ unique deal with FX and Hulu for its TV show, ‘The Weekly,’ which could be a blueprint for others in the industry

Join the conversation about this story »

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Cult fantasy author Neil Gaiman is one of the most-adapted contemporary authors with at least six TV shows and movies based on his literary works, such as the movie, “Coraline,” and the TV shows “American Gods” and “Lucifer.”

His latest mini-series, called “Good Omens,” was his most complex and personal adaption, Gaiman told Business Insider, in an interview alongside series director Douglas Mackinnon.

“Good Omens,” which debuts on Amazon on May 31, is a fantasy series about the Antichrist who brings the end of the world, based on the 1990 novel by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett. It’s one of the most ambitious projects to premiere from Amazon Studios, which is working on bigger, genre series including a “The Lord of the Rings” TV show. The production was also emotional for Gaiman, who adapted the book — which centers on an angel and a demon who are best friends — to fulfill the last wish of his friend, Pratchett. The author died in 2015, before “Good Omens” was picked up by coproducers Amazon and BBC Studios.

The angel, Aziraphale, and demon, Crowley, in Amazon’s “Good Omens.”
Chris Raphael/Amazon

“I got to make something incredibly personal,” Gaiman said. “I got to take the biggest thing the BBC Studios has made, the biggest thing on Amazon today, and come through on the promise that I made to my friend who died that I would make a television show that he would like and be proud of.”

Making a TV adaption that stays faithful to the book

Gaiman, who wrote and executive produced the series, also served as the showrunner — a first for him over more than two decades of writing for and working in TV and film. He oversaw every piece of the production, from budgeting to post-production, so that he could control the elements of the book that went into or were cut from the series.

“He wanted to see it before he died,” Gaiman said of Pratchett. “Then he died. So I’m going to make a ‘Good Omens’ for Terry that Terry would love.”

Amazon — which produced “Good Omens” along with BBC Studios, Gaiman’s The Blank Corporation, and Pratchett’s Narrativia — backed Gaiman’s vision for the version of “Good Omens” that Pratchett would’ve wanted to see, Gaiman said.

Gaiman and Mackinnon usually treat TV and film adaptions as different beasts than the books they are based on. “You’re making something else,” Mackinnon, who has directed episodes of TV adaptations including “Outlander” and “Sherlock,” said. “You have to admit that.”

But, with “Good Omens,” Gaiman did not want to compromise. The TV show stays true to the novel. Gaiman, Mackinnon, and the rest of the cast and crew committed to bringing the version of the book that Pratchett would have wanted to life, with its quirky characters and casual cups of tea in between plot points.

“I’m not sure if the word adaptation actually covers it,” Mackinnon said. “We just made ‘Good Omens.’ It’s like ‘Good Omens’ Plus.”

Behind the scenes on the making of “Good Omens”

The production started with Gaiman, who wrote the entire series himself. “For the first two years, it was basically me and a copy of the novel,” he said.

In 2017, after Gaiman had the six scripts and the series was picked up by BBC Studios and Amazon Studios, the show went into pre-production. Gaiman and Mackinnon had only a couple of months for pre-production, a fraction of what they should have had, Mackinnon said, because the show’s all-star cast was only available for a tight window. Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Nick Offerman, Frances McDormand, and Benedict Cumberbatch were in the series. There were more than 200 speaking parts overall.

“Good Omens” started shooting in London in September 2017, and filmed for a total of 120 days.

Post-production, which Mackinnon called the hardest post-production process he’s ever been a part of, took about 11 months. Gaiman and Mackinnon sat side by side in a London studio, staring at screens day in and day out, while overseeing the editing and visual effects.

Some days started at six in the morning with pickups, or scenes shot after principal photography to flush out the production, and ran until 10 at night or later. Others started at 8 a.m. and went on until 2 a.m. the following day. Those days involved editing and coordinating with actors — who, by that point, were all over the world working on other projects — on looping, or replacing the dialogue in scenes. Gaiman or Mackinnon might nod off during those long nights, and the other would take control.

“It was a fatal flaw and our grand plan for the two of us just to do it together,” Mackinnon said. Series usually have more than one director and several producers, he said. “But, if ‘Good Omens’ is distinctive at all, that’s because we did it. The very thing that is the tough thing is the original thing.”

Read more: ‘This is a big swing’: A New York Times exec explains the company’s push into prestige TV that starts with ‘The Weekly’ on FX and Hulu

On Friday, the series, which has gotten positive reviews from a solid share of critics, premieres on Amazon — six months before it airs weekly on BBC Two. It brings to an end Gaiman’s years-long journey to make “Good Omens.”

Two hundred and fifty members of the cast and crew reunited in London on Sunday to screen all six episodes of the finished product, many months after their involvement in the series wrapped. Gaiman and Mackinnon consider it a testament to how much the production touched those who worked on it.

“It’s a bit dreamlike actually, a bit unreal,” Gaiman said of Friday’s series premiere. “We did it and that feels amazing.”

Sammy Singh

Graduate of UCLA and Wharton School of Business and Media Personality. World renowned global entrepreneur, venture capitalist, financial technology professional, tax specialist, marketing mogul, and more! Connect with me at: www.linkedin.com/in/cfo www.instagram.com/champagnegqpapi www.facebook.com/sammysinghcxo www.twitter.com/cxosynergy

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An arrest, a debutante ball, and 2 marriages: Inside the lives of the super rich Huawei dynasty

Wed May 29 , 2019
<div><p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5cee636911e2050d9a3f37c6-2400/2018photo%20finalphoto%20by%20yunling%20fang.jpg" border="0" alt="Annabel Yao at le bal Paris 2018" data-mce-source="Yunling Fang" data-mce-caption="The youngest daughter of the Huawei dynesty, Annabel Yao (far right) at le bal des débutantes, Paris 2018."></p><p></p> <ul class="summary-list"><li><strong>The secretive dynasty behind Chinese tech giant Huawei is under the spotlight, thanks to the US putting the company on a trade blacklist and its claims that the company is a conduit for Chinese spying.</strong></li> <li><strong>The company was founded by the usually press-shy Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer with the Chinese army. It is thought to have grown out of close financial ties to the Chinese state.</strong></li> <li><strong>Ren has tried to defend his company's reputation in recent months by giving multiple media interviews, opening up about his family for the first time.<br></strong></li> <li><strong>Business Insider took a look into the lives of Ren's family, who are Chinese business royalty.</strong></li> <li><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.</a></li> </ul><p>US action against Huawei, such as the arrest of its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and a trade blacklist has thrust the Chinese mobile and telecommunications firm into the Western spotlight.</p> <p>Most people know Huawei in the US and Europe for its well-produced line of smartphones that compete with Apple's iPhone, Samsung's flagships, and Google's Pixel line.</p> <p>The firm also sells mobile network equipment to global telcos, and it's that element of the business that has raised alarm bells in the US. Fearing the firm is a conduit for Chinese spying, the US has placed the company on a trade blacklist, effectively locking it out of the US.</p> <p>All of this has resulted in CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei granting multiple interviews to try and defend his company. Ren rarely gave interviews previously, nor did he speak much about his family. Huawei's CFO, awaiting extradition, happens to be his daughter. He has a reputed wealth of $3.2 billion.</p> <p>Ren has married twice, and he's produced a brood of children. Not all of them are quite so press-shy. Here's his youngest daughter, Annabel Yao, appearing at a debutante's ball in Paris in November 2018:</p> <div> <h1></h1> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-version="3" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; width:100%; max-width:100%; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px); width:540px"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"></div> </div> <p style="color:#c9c8cd; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;"><a href="https://instagram.com/p/Bq3eBAJA-hT/" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;" target="_top" rel="noopener noreferrer">A post shared by Annabel Yao (@annabelballerina)</a> on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2018-12-02T01:35:19+00:00">Dec 1, 2018 at 5:35pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script></div> <p>Here's a window into the lives of these crazy rich Asians: </p><h3>Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei was born in 1944, and came of age just before China's Cultural Revolution began. Zhengfei is his first name, as surnames come first in China.</h3> <img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5c0d3818965aa03f341cc985-400-300/huawei-founder-ren-zhengfei-was-born-in-1944-and-came-of-age-just-before-chinas-cultural-revolution-began-zhengfei-is-his-first-name-as-surnames-come-first-in-china.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Ren was born in China's poorest province, Guizhou. He told the BBC in 2015 that he came from a humble background. "We had salt to cook with so we were considered wealthy," he said.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5b9ad2f32154a31f008b5cd0-400-300/ren-was-born-in-chinas-poorest-province-guizhou-he-told-the-bbc-in-2015-that-he-came-from-a-humble-background-we-had-salt-to-cook-with-so-we-were-considered-wealthy-he-said.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>The BBC show is no longer available, <a href="http://fortune.com/2015/01/22/huawei-ren-zhengfei-davos/">but you can read a summary here</a>.</p> <br><br><h3>In a 2019 interview with the Chinese media, Ren said: "I was nobody. I had nothing but good academic performance. My family was poor and my father was locked up in a 'cow shed.'"</h3> <img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5cdd63ea021b4c02535383e9-400-300/in-a-2019-interview-with-the-chinese-media-ren-said-i-was-nobody-i-had-nothing-but-good-academic-performance-my-family-was-poor-and-my-father-was-locked-up-in-a-cow-shed.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>At the age of 30, Ren joined China's military as an engineer — a connection that still provokes questions about Huawei's ties to the army and the government.</h3> <img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/514716daeab8ea355500002b-400-300/at-the-age-of-30-ren-joined-chinas-military-as-an-engineer--a-connection-that-still-provokes-questions-about-huaweis-ties-to-the-army-and-the-government.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Ren has denied that the Chinese government has ever asked Huawei to spy.</p> <br><br><h3>Ren told Chinese media that he has been married twice. Little is known about his first wife, Meng Jun, but he described her in a 2019 interview as "very tough." He explained that she had been a political commissar of the Red Guards, Mao's volunteer paramilitary movement.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5cee6aa211e2050e88345524-400-300/ren-told-chinese-media-that-he-has-been-married-twice-little-is-known-about-his-first-wife-meng-jun-but-he-described-her-in-a-2019-interview-as-very-tough-he-explained-that-she-had-been-a-political-commissar-of-the-red-guards-maos-volunteer-paramilitary-movement.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>After they married, the couple had a daughter, Meng Wanzhou, in the early 1970s, and a son, Ren Ping.</h3> <img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5c0850241a27840dd723b474-400-300/after-they-married-the-couple-had-a-daughter-meng-wanzhou-in-the-early-1970s-and-a-son-ren-ping.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina or Cathy Meng, took her mother's surname while a teenager and worked her way up to become Huawei's CFO. She was arrested in Canada in December 2018.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5b1e9eff1ae6621e008b5070-400-300/meng-wanzhou-also-known-as-sabrina-or-cathy-meng-took-her-mothers-surname-while-a-teenager-and-worked-her-way-up-to-become-huaweis-cfo-she-was-arrested-in-canada-in-december-2018.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Little is known about her brother Ren Ping, also known by his mother's surname as Meng Ping, except that he works for a Huawei subsidiary and appears to have little interest in taking over the business his father founded, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/technology/succession-at-huawei-offers-glimpse-into-secretive-firm.html">according to The New York Times.</a></p> <br><br><h3>The US authorities feared Meng was involved in covering up links between Huawei and a company that sold Huawei's kit to Iran, violating US sanctions.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/52374d3369bedde8593cf92e-400-300/the-us-authorities-feared-meng-was-involved-in-covering-up-links-between-huawei-and-a-company-that-sold-huaweis-kit-to-iran-violating-us-sanctions.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>China has reacted furiously to Meng's arrest, demanding the US withdraw its arrest warrant.</p> <br><br><h3>Ren has recently opened up about having two young children while serving in the Chinese army. He said he only saw them every 11 months.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5c9897e086d56e430631a4e3-400-300/ren-has-recently-opened-up-about-having-two-young-children-while-serving-in-the-chinese-army-he-said-he-only-saw-them-every-11-months.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Ren Zhengfei retired from the Chinese army in 1983 at the age of 39, according to his official biography, and after a stint working in oil set up Huawei in 1987. That's 12 years after its main rival in mobile, Apple, was founded.</h3> <img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5c0a99dcd5000c19a868cc79-400-300/ren-zhengfei-retired-from-the-chinese-army-in-1983-at-the-age-of-39-according-to-his-official-biography-and-after-a-stint-working-in-oil-set-up-huawei-in-1987-thats-12-years-after-its-main-rival-in-mobile-apple-was-founded.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Ren's children were still young, and he has said that he still saw little of them while putting in 10-hour workdays at the newly established Huawei. He told Chinese media in 2019: "To enter the international market and prove that Huawei's success was not built on corruption, I stayed overseas for a few months in a row and had little contact with my children."</h3> <img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5ce50ec0021b4c2824773628-400-300/rens-children-were-still-young-and-he-has-said-that-he-still-saw-little-of-them-while-putting-in-10-hour-workdays-at-the-newly-established-huawei-he-told-chinese-media-in-2019-to-enter-the-international-market-and-prove-that-huaweis-success-was-not-built-on-corruption-i-stayed-overseas-for-a-few-months-in-a-row-and-had-little-contact-with-my-children.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Ren added that his children had formed their own personalities. "They have become who they are through their own efforts, and they demand a lot of themselves."</p> <br><br><h3>The long hours paid off financially. Huawei went on to become the biggest electronics brand in China, and Ren Zhengfei is thought to be worth $3.3 billion.</h3> <img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5c09e1b60346320e22771438-400-300/the-long-hours-paid-off-financially-huawei-went-on-to-become-the-biggest-electronics-brand-in-china-and-ren-zhengfei-is-thought-to-be-worth-33-billion.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Ren divorced his first wife after 20 years, and remarried. His current wife is called Yao Ling, who he has described as "very gentle and capable." He told Chinese media that Yao and his ex-wife get along "quite well."</h3> <img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5cdd7f76021b4c01ef332e36-400-300/ren-divorced-his-first-wife-after-20-years-and-remarried-his-current-wife-is-called-yao-ling-who-he-has-described-as-very-gentle-and-capable-he-told-chinese-media-that-yao-and-his-ex-wife-get-along-quite-well.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Yao Ling keeps out of the spotlight, but she did appear in photos taken <a href="https://www.parismatch.com/People/Bal-des-debs-Une-fille-du-ciel-dans-la-Ville-lumiere-1586623">by the French magazine Paris Match in 2018</a>.</p> <br><br><h3>Yao Ling and Ren have a daughter, Annabel Yao.</h3> <p><biembeddedobject id="0d992449-7510-4d2b-82e6-25f90ff05e2f" style="width: 540px; height: autopx;" class="instagram mceNonEditable">Instagram Embed: <br>//instagram.com/p/BqSrDqDATDy/embed <br>Width: 540px</biembeddedobject></p><p>Judging by her Instagram, Yao is a fashionable socialite.</p> <p> </p> <br><br><h3>21-year-old Annabel Yao lives the life of a Chinese princess, attending the prestigious Harvard to study computer science. She's also passionate about ballet and fashion. But her father has also described her as extremely hard-working and academic.</h3> <p><biembeddedobject id="ba05c902-aa92-4804-bf01-f18607d54def" style="width: 540px; height: autopx;" class="instagram mceNonEditable">Instagram Embed: <br>//instagram.com/p/Bl6LrFQAHRg/embed <br>Width: 540px</biembeddedobject></p> <br><br><h3>It seems like Ren has a particular soft spot for Annabel, describing her love of dancing in interviews and agreeing to an intimate family photoshoot in Paris Match. "We felt it would be much better to support her in doing whatever she wants to do," he said.</h3> <p><biembeddedobject id="4aef0c2c-f3a3-4913-8e47-236ff9b2bdc9" style="width: 540px; height: autopx;" class="instagram mceNonEditable">Instagram Embed: <br>//instagram.com/p/BxmzfaBnpyb/embed <br>Width: 540px</biembeddedobject></p><p>Ren said Annabel danced 15 hours a week while at school, and would then do her homework late into the night.</p> <br><br><h3>Shortly before her half-sister Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, Yao was attending a high-fashion debutante ball in Paris.</h3> <img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5cee6fc711e2050abf1d8222-400-300/shortly-before-her-half-sister-meng-wanzhou-was-arrested-in-canada-yao-was-attending-a-high-fashion-debutante-ball-in-paris.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p> </p> <p> </p> <br><br><h3>Le Bal des Débutantes is usually attended by children of the super-wealthy and famous. Previous guests include the daughter Ryan Philippe and Reese Witherspoon, and Silvio Berlusconi's daughter.</h3> <img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5c0a9f601486fd1c603df63f-400-300/le-bal-des-dbutantes-is-usually-attended-by-children-of-the-super-wealthy-and-famous-previous-guests-include-the-daughter-ryan-philippe-and-reese-witherspoon-and-silvio-berlusconis-daughter.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Little is known about how Ren spends his wealth, but a 2018 Paris Match article outlined the family posing in a luxurious 'palace' in Shenzen built to receive Huawei visitors. According to Paris Match, Annabel Yao persuaded her father to pose in the photoshoot to celebrate her appearance at the debutante ball.</h3> <img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/517938baeab8eaf515000005-400-300/little-is-known-about-how-ren-spends-his-wealth-but-a-2018-paris-match-article-outlined-the-family-posing-in-a-luxurious-palace-in-shenzen-built-to-receive-huawei-visitors-according-to-paris-match-annabel-yao-persuaded-her-father-to-pose-in-the-photoshoot-to-celebrate-her-appearance-at-the-debutante-ball.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Ren says this of being persuaded into the photoshoot: "When she brought up the idea of taking a family photo, I was the first to support her and allowed her to post it online. Her mother had thought that I would decline this request, but I didn't. I owe my children, and the least I can do is support them, so that my daughter can focus on her studies and take control of her own destiny."</p> <br><br><h3>There are rumours in the Chinese media that Ren married a third time, marrying his former assistant Su Wei. But in 2019 interviews, Ren continues to refer to Yao Ling as his current wife.</h3> <img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/583ee98be02ba72b318b6808-400-300/there-are-rumours-in-the-chinese-media-that-ren-married-a-third-time-marrying-his-former-assistant-su-wei-but-in-2019-interviews-ren-continues-to-refer-to-yao-ling-as-his-current-wife.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>This is Ren with the UK's former chancellor, George Osborne.</p> <br><br><h3>Although Ren has softened his stance on his kids in recent media interviews, he once issued his two elder children a tough rebuke. He reportedly once said neither possessed the right qualities to lead Huawei in future.</h3> <img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5554a28c69bedd6c68c45a06-400-300/although-ren-has-softened-his-stance-on-his-kids-in-recent-media-interviews-he-once-issued-his-two-elder-children-a-tough-rebuke-he-reportedly-once-said-neither-possessed-the-right-qualities-to-lead-huawei-in-future.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>Running Huawei would require vision, determination and a long-term view, he wrote in an email seen by Sina Tech."None of my family members possesses these qualities; therefore, they will never be included in the sequence of successors," he reportedly said.</p> <br><br><h3>Meng Wanzhou seems to have proven her father wrong to some extent, joining Huawei in 1993 and rising through the ranks to become its CFO. She replaced her father as vice chairman in March 2018.</h3> <img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5c0a38540fefb312325fff33-400-300/meng-wanzhou-seems-to-have-proven-her-father-wrong-to-some-extent-joining-huawei-in-1993-and-rising-through-the-ranks-to-become-its-cfo-she-replaced-her-father-as-vice-chairman-in-march-2018.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Taking after her father, Meng appears to be relatively private and little is known about her personal life. Her family is thought to own this palatial property in British Vancouver in Canada.</h3> <img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5c0d3d7645972a3d4d1bb732-400-300/taking-after-her-father-meng-appears-to-be-relatively-private-and-little-is-known-about-her-personal-life-her-family-is-thought-to-own-this-palatial-property-in-british-vancouver-in-canada.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>According to Chinese media reports, Meng has two children.</p> <br><br><h3>Her arrest has triggered international tensions between the US and China, which has demanded her release.</h3> <img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5c0d3c6c9d860a3eca27f247-400-300/her-arrest-has-triggered-international-tensions-between-the-us-and-china-which-has-demanded-her-release.jpg" alt=""><br><br><h3>Meng Wanzhou has appeared in court several times in Canada. Her lawyers are fighting her extradition to the US.</h3> <img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5ce3fcec021b4c3e303950c5-400-300/meng-wanzhou-has-appeared-in-court-several-times-in-canada-her-lawyers-are-fighting-her-extradition-to-the-us.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>In court, Meng's lawyers have revealed that she suffers several health problems, including hypertension, struggling to eat solid food, and trouble sleeping.</p> <p>She also offered to put up several multimillion-dollar homes as bail collateral.</p> <br><br><h3>Meng has written to Huawei's 188,000 employees, assuring them she is well. She wrote in the letter: "My inner self has never felt so colorful and vast."</h3> <img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5cd94539021b4c107c15d6a8-400-300/meng-has-written-to-huaweis-188000-employees-assuring-them-she-is-well-she-wrote-in-the-letter-my-inner-self-has-never-felt-so-colorful-and-vast.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/huawei-cfo-meng-wanzhou-email-employees-thanking-support-2019-5?r=US&IR=T">You can read the letter, a show of defiance to the US, here</a>.</p> <br><br><h3>Ren Zhengfei told Chinese media that he expects jail time for his daughter.</h3> <img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5c7f8a3a2628983f171845b6-400-300/ren-zhengfei-told-chinese-media-that-he-expects-jail-time-for-his-daughter.jpg" alt=""><p></p><p>He <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/huawei-founder-expects-jail-time-for-daughter-meng-wanzhou-report-2019-5?r=US&IR=T">also said she would probably work to get a doctorate in jail</a>.</p> <br><br><div class="feedflare"> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:V_sGLiPBpWU"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?i=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:V_sGLiPBpWU" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:qj6IDK7rITs"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=qj6IDK7rITs" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:bcOpcFrp8Mo"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=bcOpcFrp8Mo" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:gIN9vFwOqvQ"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?i=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:gIN9vFwOqvQ" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:cGdyc7Q-1BI"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=cGdyc7Q-1BI" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:QXVau8BzmBE"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=QXVau8BzmBE" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:yIl2AUoC8zA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></a> <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?a=db4w-urnBGw:ZFa8i5bdUBA:7Q72WNTAKBA"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider?d=7Q72WNTAKBA" border="0"></a> </div><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider/~4/db4w-urnBGw" height="1" width="1" alt=""></div>
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