Janet Yang Productions
Film Producer/Entertainment and Media Consultant
Throughout her life, 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.
Yang most recently served as Executive Producer of the acclaimed, award-winning documentary DOCUMENTED, directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. In it, Vargas recounts his anguished life as an undocumented immigrant despite his soaring career. The film has arguably contributed to President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration.
Prior to that, Yang produced SHANGHAI CALLING, a romantic comedy set in contemporary Shanghai about a Wall Street lawyer sent to China to open up a satellite office. Starring Daniel Henney (XMEN:WOLVERINE) and Bill Paxton (BIG LOVE, TITANIC, TWISTER), SHANGHAI CALLING was released in China by China Film Group in 2012, and in North America in early 2013. The film received rave notices, won numerous awards at film festivals, (including the Shanghai Film Festival and Newport Beach Film Festival), and has continued to play to great acclaim in its post-theatrical online run.
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 ShiZheng 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.
Ms. Yang is the president of Janet Yang Productions, as well as the film production company, The Manifest Film Company. Manifest productions include Carl Franklin’s HIGH CRIMES, a military courtroom thriller starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman (20th Century Fox)? THE WEIGHT OF WATER, a drama directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow and starring Academy Award winner Sean Penn (Lion’s Gate Films)? ZERO EFFECT, a dark comedy cult classic starring Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller (Warner Bros)? and SAVIOR (Sony), starring Dennis Quaid, about a man’s search for redemption amidst war-torn Bosnia. What all these productions have in common is the examination and triumph of the human spirit in the most challenging circumstances.
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. At Ixtlan, she produced THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, which won the 1996 Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, and garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Actor. It starred Woody Harrelson as the renegade publisher and Edward Norton as the lawyer who won Flynt’s landmark Supreme Court case, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT was directed by two-time Academy Award winner
Milos Forman (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and AMADEUS) for Columbia Pictures. This film has become a modern classic about the American dream and the rights protected by its Constitution.
Yang also served as executive producer of the groundbreaking film directed by Wayne Wang for Disney, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, based on the bestselling novel by Amy Tan. This film has become an iconic work of familial bonds, and cultural assimilation and identity.
Yang executive produced another seminal work and is a recipient of both the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Made for Television Movie for it. INDICTMENT: THE MCMARTIN TRIAL is an HBO movie that stars James Woods and documents the true story of one of the most terrifying cases of witch hunting in modern times.
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 (Universal Pictures). DRAGON was one of the first Hollywood-backed productions to star an Asian actor.
Yang got her start in Hollywood when she was hired by several major studios to reintroduce 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.
Before joining MCA/Universal, Yang was president of World Entertainment in San Francisco. She revived this small, local distributor of Hong Kong films, expanded it into exhibition, and was able to garner it the exclusive representation rights in North America for all films produced in the People’s Republic of China. These films include those of such now internationally prominent filmmakers as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige.
Her first producing effort was the 1982 documentary film, EAST TO WEST: AMERICA THROUGH THE EYES OF CHINESE. The film documents the journey by car across America of two Mainland Chinese students who meet ordinary, and some extraordinary (Muhammed Ali, Studs Terkel) Americans. Featured on Charles Kuralt’s GOOD MORNING, AMERICA, and sold to the Disney Channel to acclaimed reviews, EAST TO WEST also brought together a cast and crew from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, including the now celebrated director Ang
Lee as its sound man.
Yang was inspired to be a link between the new cultural creators in China and the West after working in Beijing for a year as a “foreign expert” at the publishing arm of the government, Foreign Languages Press.
Janet Yang holds a B.A. from Brown University in Chinese studies and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? a member of the Committee of 100, an organization of prominent Chinese-Americans? an advisory board member of Asia Society Southern California? and an advisory board member of CAPE, the Coalition of Asian-Pacific Americans in Entertainment. 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 been featured in articles in THE NEW YORK TIMES, LA TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, VARIETY, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, and HARPER’S BAZAAR. She has appeared on numerous TV shows such as GOOD MORNING AMERICA and PBS, 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 2013 alone, she spoke at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, at the China Global Economic Summit in Hangzhou, and lectured at the University of Southern California and New York University.
Yang is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She splits her time between Los Angeles and China.