Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Stars Making A Social Impact: How Emmy Winning TV Host Yue-Sai Kan Aims To Harness The Power of Beauty to Accomplish Great Things
By Alexandra Spirer on July 23, 2020 | Medium
I had the pleasure of interviewing: Yue-Sai Kan. Yue-Sai Kan is an Emmy-winning television host and producer, successful 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.”
In 1972, Yue-Sai created the weekly television series “Looking East”, 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. 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. 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. It was the first time a non-Chinese citizen hosted a TV series in China. At that time with her broadcast in both China and the United States, she was the most watched woman in the world. Yue-Sai’s many 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, and more recent shows including “Yue-Sai’s World” and “Yue-Sai’s World Expo”.
In 1992, Yue-Sai created the Yue-Sai Cosmetics brand which grew into China’s leading Cosmetics Company, selling products in more than 800 outlets through 23 regional companies in China’s major markets. More than 90% of the Chinese population today recognizes the brand, which was purchased by L’Oreal in 2004. Additionally, she has written 9 best-selling books, and in 2000, became the first and only living American featured on a Chinese government-issued postage stamp. Throughout her life, Yue-Sai has been deeply involved in charity work. She served on the boards of a number of prominent charitable organizations in China and the United States, including the Shanghai Soong Qing Ling Foundation, Citymeals on Wheels, the Ellis Island Honors Society and Prince Albert of Monaco’s Philanthropy Round Table just to name a few. Since 2011, Yue-Sai has been helming the Miss Universe China Pageant. She uses the final pageant as Shanghai’s most glamorous charity ball. Attended by hundreds of who’s who of China, the charity has raised millions to support orphanages, cleft lip and palate correction surgeries and scholarships for students in China’s best music, TV and film schools. In 2018, Yue-Sai was elected co-chairman of China Institute. She is dedicated to spearheading the 90-odd year old organization’s efforts to move from Upper Eastside to Downtown Manhattan and continue its mission of advancing a deeper understanding of China through programs in education, culture, art, and business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us. Before we begin our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?
I was born in the town of Guilin, China; people call it the most beautiful place between heaven and earth. Indeed, it is extremely beautiful with the most exquisite formation of mountains known as Karst.
When I was almost two, my family moved to Hong Kong. At the age of 16, I went to the United States to study piano and moved to New York after graduating from Brigham Young University. Since then, my life really began. I started my career as a TV host in 1972, my first weekly television series “Looking East”, was the first of its kind, introducing Asian cultures and customs to a growing and receptive American audience. In 1992, I created the Yue-Sai Cosmetics brand which grew into China’s leading Cosmetics Company. It was then purchased by L’Oreal in 2004.
I have been involved in charities all my life. Living in the United States, giving is a way of life. Over the years, I have been involved with many different charities in both China and the United States including Shanghai Soong Qing Ling Foundation, Citymeals on Wheels, the Ellis Island Honors Society and Prince Albert of Monaco’s Philanthropy Round Table just to name a few, mainly focusing on children, education and women empowerment.