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Yue-Sai Kan

Emmy-Winning Television Producer, Entrepreneur, Fashion Icon, Bestselling Author and Humanitarian

Yue-Sai Kan, a household name in China, is an Emmy-winning television producer, entrepreneur, fashion icon, bestselling author and humanitarian.  People magazine called her “the most famous woman in China” and Time magazine proclaimed her “the Queen of the Middle Kingdom.” Yue-Sai was born in Guilin, China to a family with a rich artistic background.  Her…

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Yue-Sai Kan, a household name in China, is an Emmy-winning television producer, entrepreneur, fashion icon, bestselling author and humanitarian.  People magazine called her “the most famous woman in China” and Time magazine proclaimed her “the Queen of the Middle Kingdom.”

Yue-Sai was born in Guilin, China to a family with a rich artistic background.  Her father Kan Wing-Lin was a revered traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher.  In 1966, while studying as a piano major at Brigham Young University in Hawaii, 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.

In 1972, she moved to New York City and later formed Yue-Sai Kan Productions and created her first major TV production, a weekly series called “Looking East”, introducing 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 “Looking East” 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 from China on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.  Two years later the television series “One World” produced and hosted by Yue-Sai aired on China’s national television network CCTV, with a weekly viewership of 300 million, giving many Chinese their first glimpse of the outside world.  Her broadcast captivated the entire nation and made her a household name.  Both the script and video were later used as teaching materials in schools across China and her easy television style has 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 earned her a coveted Emmy Award. “Journey through a Changing China”, which was syndicated across the country, was so powerful that it was publicly lauded in The Congressional Record.  And the popular series “Mini Dragons” and “Doing Business in Asia”, broadcast on PBS, 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 around the globe.  Yue-Sai has continued to produce a variety of television series 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 “Yue-Sai’s World” and “Yue-Sai’s Expo”.  Yue-Sai has filmed in more than 25 counties, created thousands of programs, and had her programs broadcast all over the globe.

In 1992, Yue-Sai Kan successfully transformed herself from a TV personality to an entrepreneur by creating the Yue-Sai cosmetics brand which is recognized by over 90% of the Chinese population today, and started a revolution by encouraging Chinese women to be proud of their image.  The brand grew into China’s leading cosmetics company, selling products in over 800 outlets through 18 regional offices in China’s major markets.  According to a survey by the official Statistical Bureau, the Yue-Sai brand has brand recognition of 95 percent!  Forbes reported that Yue-Sai has become “China’s new role model and is changing the face of the Middle Kingdom, one lipstick at a time”.  In 2004, L’Oreal purchased Yue-Sai Cosmetics Ltd. and the Yue-Sai brand name for its cosmetics line.  Yue-Sai is now the Honorary Vice Chairman of L’Oreal China.  In 2007 Yue-Sai Kan opened the House of Yue-Sai, an East-meets-West lifestyle retail concept aiming to bring style, elegance and inspiration to Chinese consumers, selling a variety of fine furniture, bedding, tableware, lighting, decorative accessories and unique gifts.

Yue-Sai Kan has written 8 best-selling books in China, making her the first to dispense valuable tips in television production, beauty and etiquette to the modern Chinese.  This includes “Yue-Sai’s Guide to Asian Beauty” which provides instructions on basic makeup techniques, which instantly became a must-have handbook for the Chinese woman.  She introduced international social standards to China with her book “Etiquette for the Modern Chinese”, and her books “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.  “Exquisite Spaces, 25 Top Interior Designers of the World” is 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.  Her latest publication is “Life Is a Competition” aimed at promoting young women’s all-round development.

From the beginning of 2011, Yue-Sai Kan has served as the National Director of the Miss Universe China Franchise (  Yue-Sai has stated that the three aims of the Pageant during her administration of the Pageant are supporting education and charity, and creating a positive image of Chinese women.  She is committed to providing all contestants the best training and assistance to help them shine and prove that “Chinese women have the brains, beauty and style to be successful.”  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 Final in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

In the educational and humanitarian areas, Yue-Sai Kan has established a fund that builds schools and awards scholarships to outstanding but poor 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 Soong Ching Ling Foundation, one of China’s biggest charitable organizations committed to improving the health of mothers and children and the Committee of 100, which is composed of outstanding Chinese Americans.  Under her chairmanship, the 2010 annual Soong Qing Ling Foundation charity event raised over 1.5 million US dollars.  To acknowledge her charity work, the Soong Qing Ling Foundation sanctioned the establishment of the China Beauty Charity Fund. Yue-Sai was appointed Ambassador and Chairman of the Governing Committee.  The foundation is dedicated to the betterment and advancement of women and children through education, health and cultural programs worldwide.

Yue-Sai Kan is the first and only living American featured on a Chinese postage stamp which was issued in 2002, the first time a living American was thus honored.  Again she was honored in 2005, when she received an updated stamp to keep up with her new style, a true tribute to her ongoing impact in fashion and journalism.

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    A Conversation With Yue-Sai Kan


    Yue-Sai Kan: Chinese visionary


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