Janet Yang has distinguished herself by serving as a key link to bringing the creative and business worlds together, as well as by bridging East and West. As a film producer, Yang has worked with some of the most formidable directors and actors in the world, as well as discovering unique, often unheard voices and stories, and bringing them into the mainstream. She is a Golden Globe and Emmy-winning producer, and is best known for such seminal works as THE JOY LUCK CLUB and THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, among others.
Ms. Yang recently served as Managing Director of Tang Media Partners. While there, she was in charge of creative content and production. TMP is founded by Donald Tang, who has long been an essential player in the Hollywood-China space. TMP’s shareholders include Tencent, Huayi Bros., Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital and Neil Shen’s Sequoia Capital.
As a producer, Yang most recently served as Executive Producer of the acclaimed, award-winning documentary DOCUMENTED, directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas (CNN Films). In it, Vargas recounts his anguished life as an undocumented immigrant despite his soaring career. In 2009, Yang was sought out by Disney Studios to produce its highly coveted HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL for Chinese audiences. This was the first time that such a successful global franchise was tailor-made for the rapidly expanding Chinese marketplace.
Prior to HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, Yang produced the acclaimed film DARK MATTER, a cross-cultural drama set at an American University, directed by celebrated theater director Chen Shi-Zheng and starring Chinese star Liu Ye and Meryl Streep. DARK MATTER premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2007 and won the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award.
From 1989 to 1996, Yang served as president of Ixtlan, the company she formed with Academy Award-winning writer/director Oliver Stone, spearheading all aspects of the company’s development and production. She produced THE JOY LUCK CLUB, which has become an iconic work of familial bonds, cultural assimilation, and identity, in addition to Golden Globe-winning films THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, a modern classic about the American dream and the rights protected by our Constitution, and INDICTMENT: THE MCMARTIN TRIAL, the true story of one of the most terrifying cases of witch-hunting in modern times, for which she also won an Emmy Award.
Prior to her association with Oliver Stone, Yang got her start in production working closely with Steven Spielberg and his producers. In 1985, she was hired to be Spielberg’s eyes and ears in China for the filming of the historic production of EMPIRE OF THE SUN (Warner Bros). She was responsible for liaising with both national and local levels of the Chinese government for its largest production to date. She then segued into a production position at Universal, supervising Spielberg’s Amblin account. It was as a production executive that Yang began her trademark search for stories that bridge cultural divides or give voice to the underdog. One of the results of this search was the film DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY. DRAGON was one of the first Hollywood-backed productions to star an Asian actor.
Yang began her career in Hollywood when she was hired by several major studios to re-introduce American cinema to the Chinese marketplace after a long hiatus. From 1985 to 1987, she represented three major studios — Universal, Paramount, and MGM/UA — and in an act of diplomatic prowess, was able to broker the first sale of American studio movies to China since 1949.
Janet Yang holds a B.A. from Brown University in Chinese studies and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. She is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Producers Branch of the Academy; a member of the Committee of 100, an organization of prominent Chinese-Americans; an advisory board member of Asia Society Southern California where she is co-chair of its annual signature “US-China Film Summit”; an advisory board member of CAPE, the Coalition of Asian-Pacific Americans in Entertainment; a board member of the 1990 Institute; and a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations. She has taught producing at the Sundance Institute and the Independent Feature Project. She is involved with a number of arts, community and political organizations.
Ms. Yang has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood” by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, and is frequently named as one of the most prominent Asian Americans. She has appeared on numerous TV shows such as GOOD MORNING AMERICA, radio shows such as NPR, and on television throughout China and Asia such as CCTV and Beijing TV. Ms. Yang is frequently invited to speak publicly. In recent years alone, she spoke at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, at the China Global Economic Summit in Hangzhou, the Harvard-China Forum, Stanford University Business School’s China 2.0 Forum, Brown University, and regularly lectures at the University of Southern California. Ms. Yang is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She splits her time between Los Angeles and China.