Janet Yang Productions
Film Producer / Cultural Ambassador
Throughout her life, Yang has distinguished herself by serving as a cultural ambassador, whether by bringing the creative and business worlds together, or 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.
Most recently, Yang wrapped production in Shanghai on the film, SHANGHAI CALLING. Starring Daniel Henney (X-MEN: WOLVERINE) and Bill Paxton (BIG LOVE, TITANIC, TWISTER), SHANGHAI CALLING is a caper/romantic comedy about a Wall Street lawyer sent to Shanghai to open its inaugural office. It will be released in China by its largest film distribution company, China Film Group, and is destined for major international film festivals and distribution throughout the world.
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.
Ms. Yang is the president of Janet Yang Productions, as well as the production company, The Manifest Film Company. Her 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; and SAVIOR, 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. Starring 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 our Constitution.
Yang also served as executive producer of the groundbreaking film directed by Wayne Wang, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. This film has become an iconic work of familial bonds, 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 stars James Woods and Mercedes Ruehl 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 help bridge cultural divides or give voice to the underdog. One of the results of this search was the film DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY. This film 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.
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 such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige.
She was inspired to be a link between the new cultural creators in China and the West after living 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, is frequently named among 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.
Yang is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She splits her time between Los Angeles and China.