|Born||October 6, 1949 (age 64)
Guilin, Guangxi, China
|Other names||Queen of the Middle Kingdom|
|Alma mater||Brigham Young University in Hawaii|
Yue-Sai Kan (Chinese: 靳羽西; pinyin: Jìn Yǔxī; b. Guilin (桂林), Guangxi (广西), China) is a Chinese American Emmy-winning television host and producer, successful entrepreneur, fashion icon, bestselling author and humanitarian. People magazine named her "the most famous woman in China" and Time magazine proclaimed her "the Queen of the Middle Kingdom."
Kan was born in Guilin (桂林), in China's southern province of Guangxi (广西), before the founding of the People's Republic of China and grew up in Hong Kong. She is the oldest of four sisters, and her father Kan Wing-Lin was a revered traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher. She moved to Hawaii where she studied for a degree in music at Brigham Young University in Hawaii. While studying as a piano major, Yue-Sai entered the Narcissus Flower Beauty Pageant sponsored by the local Chinese Chamber of Commerce, became the second runner-up, and as part of her duties traveled around the World. The life-changing experience marked the beginning of her career in fashion and beauty. She joined her sister in New York in 1972, becoming involved in public relations and television production work.
Work in television
After her move to New York City she formed Yue-Sai Kan Productions and created her first major TV production, a weekly series called "Looking East". The program was the first of its kind to introduce Asian cultures and customs to a growing and receptive American audience. The series garnered critical acclaim and won dozens of awards. As described by the New York Times: "Few people are able to bridge the East and West, but Yue-Sai Kan can, and does it with beauty, intelligence and grace." The series stayed on the air for 12 years, the last 2 years on the Discovery Channel. Based on this and other work Yue-Sai is credited as the first TV journalist to connect the East and West.
In 1984, PBS invited Yue-Sai to host the first live broadcast of a television program from China on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. The program was a co-production of American TV station PBS and China's CCTV network. The program brought Kan to prominence in China and led the Chinese government to offer her a new television series, One World, which was produced and hosted by Yue-Sai and aired on China’s national television network CCTV. The twice-per-week program, which exposed Chinese viewers to cultures around the world, was the first-ever television series hosted by a Chinese American on national Chinese TV. With a weekly viewership of 300 million people, "One World" gave many Chinese their first glimpse of the outside world. Her broadcast captivated the entire nation and made her a household name. At that time with broadcasts in both China and the USA, she was the most watched woman in the world. The bilingual scripts and video were used as teaching materials in schools across China and her easy television style influenced a generation of TV journalists in China.
In the United States, Yue-Sai's other TV credits include the ABC documentary "China Walls and Bridges", which received a coveted Emmy award in 1989, and "Journey through a Changing China", which was syndicated across the country, was so powerful that it was publicly lauded in the United States Congressional Record, which called Yue-Sai a “citizen ambassador”. Her popular series "Mini Dragons" and "Doing Business in Asia", which Kan produced and hosted was broadcast on PBS, and fed the West's growing hunger for information on the East. A corporate version of the series was created and thousands of copies were sold to corporations and university business schools throughout the World for many years. Yue-Sai has continued to produce a variety of television shows aimed at raising the Chinese consciousness about the latest international lifestyle trends, including segments for the popular TV program "Half of the Sky" and more recently "Yue-Sai's World" and “Yue-Sai’s Expo” on which she interviews various North American and European celebrities and politicians. Yue-Sai Kan has filmed in more than 25 counties, created thousands of programs, and been seen all over the globe. Her 2006 TV series Yue-Sai's World introduced interesting stories from Western cultures, various celebrities and other phenomena to Chinese viewers. Usher, Catherine Deneuve, and Suze Orman were some of the guests on her 30-minute weekly show. "I know there are lots of programs around but they don't have depth. This will be a solid lifestyle program. I have a big team in the United States currently producing it," she said. Throughout her TV career, Kan has filmed in more than 25 countries.
Since 2006, Yue-Sai Kan has been serving as Chairman of the Invitation Committee of the Shanghai International Film Festival. She single-handedly secured the attendance of many A-list stars, including Halle Berry, Catherine Deneuve, Liam Neeson, Andie MacDowell just to name a few. Her involvement has uplifted the status of the Festival to a true international level.
In 1992, Yue-Sai successfully transformed herself from a TV personality to an entrepreneur by creating the Yue-Sai cosmetics brand which became China’s leading Cosmetics Company, eventually selling products in more than 800 outlets through 23 regional companies in China's major markets. The company started a revolution by encouraging Chinese women to be proud of their image, and truly began the cosmetics industry in China. By 2003, the company was generating annual revenues of nearly 50 million US Dollars and Forbes magazine reported that Yue-Sai “is changing the face of the Middle Kingdom, one lipstick at a time". . The company was sold to L'Oréal, the world's largest cosmetics company, in May 2004, with Kan staying on as Honorary Vice Chairman of L'Oréal China. More than 90% of the Chinese population today recognizes the brand.
In 2008 Yue-Sai created a new East-meets-West lifestyle retail brand, the House of Yue-Sai, to bring style, elegance and inspiration to Chinese consumers, selling a variety of fine home furnishings, bedding, tableware, lighting, decorative accessories and unique gifts, and jewelry. Yue-Sai has also designed and produced a line of Asian female dolls, known as the Yue-Sai WaWa (“doll” in Chinese). Seeing as all dolls in China had blue eyes and blonde hair, Yue-Sai created dolls, each with distinctive Asian features, accessories and educational facts, to help Asian children develop confidence, knowledge and pride in their heritage as well as educate children of all heritages about Asian cultures.
Yue-Sai Kan has written 7 best-selling books in China, making her the first to dispense valuable tips about television production, beauty and etiquette to the modern Chinese. This includes: "One World", "How to Be a Beautiful, Healthy and Successful Modern Woman", and “Yue-Sai’s Guide to Asian Beauty” which provides instruction on basic makeup techniques, which instantly became a must-have handbook for the Chinese Woman. Encouraged by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, she introduced international social standards to China with her book “Etiquette for the Modern Chinese”, and “The Chinese Gentleman” and “The Complete Chinese Woman” served as virtual training manuals for volunteers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. In 2009 she published "Exquisite Spaces, 25 Top Interior Designers of the World", a coffee table book featuring design philosophies and tips from world-class designers, and their works. It was the first time that an interior design book of such magnitude was made available in China. Currently Yue-Sai is working on two books which are anticipated to be published in 2012.
Yue-Sai Kan is the first and only living American featured on a government issued Chinese postage stamp which was issued in 2002, the first time a living American was thus honored. In 2005, a new version was published to keep up with her new hairdo.
Throughout her life Kan has been deeply involved in charitable work. Her many charitable activities include utilizing her own fund to build schools, libraries and award scholarships to outstanding underprivileged students in high schools and universities in China. In 2002, UNICEF named her, alongside other international leaders and celebrities, as its first and only Global Chinese “Say Yes” ambassador. She is also involved with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, one of China's biggest charitable organizations committed to improving the health of women and children. Under her chairmanship, the 2010 annual Shanghai Soong Qing Ling Foundation charity event raised over RMB 10 million to support 12 hospitals in remote regions of China.
In honor of the Miss Universe China Pageant and the efforts of Yue-Sai Kan, the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation established the China Beauty Charity Fund, which will support women and children in all aspects of their lives, particularly in health and education. The first official function of the Charity Fund, to be held on June 18, 2012, is the China Beauty Charity Coronation Ball which is part of the Shanghai International Film Festival. The event, which promises to be a glamorous and prestigious evening, will be attended by more than 1,000 people, comprising the Who’s Who of China and the World. She has also worked with the charity organization ORBIS International.
Yue-Sai is also a member of the Committee of 100, which is composed of outstanding Chinese Americans. Since 2006, Yue-Sai Kan has been serving as Chairman of the Invitation Committee of the Shanghai International Film Festival, the largest film festival in Asia and has brought in such stars as Halle Berry, Quincy Jones, Susan Sarandon, Matt Dillon, Daniel Boyle, Adrien Brody, Barry Levinson, Claire Danes, and others.
Miss Universe China
Since 2011, Yue-Sai Kan has served as the National Director of Miss Universe China. Yue-Sai has stated that the three aims of the Pageant during her administration are supporting education and charity, and creating a positive image of Chinese women. The Miss Universe Slogan is “Celebrating Chinese Women”. In her first year as National Director Yue-Sai created a spectacular Pageant in Beijing at the MasterCard Center with a live audience in excess of 6,000 people. The winner of the Pageant (Luo Zilin) went on to capture the 4th runner up position (out of 89 Countries) in the Miss Universe Organization Pageant held in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12, 2011.
- Yue-Sai Kan's Official Website
- Yue-Sai Kan biography
- Charlie Rose Interview with Yue-Sai Kan
- Yue-Sai Kan's Official Weibo
- Miss Universe China Official Website