Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Harlan Margaret Van Cao grew up in Virginia in the Williamsburg and DC area. She wants to be a film writer/actress. She attends UCLA and studies philosophy, film, and psychology. She became published by Penguin during the ages of fifteen to seventeen and is currently promoting her memoir, working on a second book, and working as an executive assistant for The Peace Studio. 

Lan says that the agonizing labor of delivering Harlan was a foreshadowing of their intense but loving mother-daughter relationship. She was born a C-section baby with a full head of hair and was chubby and overweight by anybody’s standards but was also very happy to be alive and attached to her father.It was all of the matching stylish outfits her parents put her in that would later lead to a love of fashion in her teenage years.

Harlan loves art, piano, movies, literature, all of which guided her through a turbulent high school experience, along with her travels to over fifty countries and lots of adventures with her puppies and best friends. 

At fifteen years old, with the aid of her mother, she signed a contract with Penguin Random House to write her memoir, which would focus on what was important to her family: topics such as coming-of-age as a teenage girl, immigration, trauma, parenting, etc. This felt odd to her, as she had always associated memoirs with retrospect and with full-life experience: two things she was lacking. With the coaching of her mother and her agent and editors, she wrote her chapters through junior and senior year of high school, finishing officially just before the wave of COVID-19. 

She now attends UCLA in Westwood, LA and has plans to pursue a career in film and business, one day perhaps becoming a studio head and making movies about things that matter to her.