Chris Yen: Badass Kung Fu movie star and martial-arts-inspired fashion designer
I interviewed Chris Yen, an actress and entrepreneur from a proud lineage of Wushu and Tai Chi masters. Her mom, Bow Sim Mark, is one of the premier Chinese martial arts practitioners. Her brother, Donnie Yen, is currently the #1 Kung Fu action star in Hong Kong whose latest film Ip Man 3 will be released in 2016. Chris recently launched a fashion brand (June 2015) called ChrisYenFusion featuring athletic inspired casual wear. Chris had never worked as a fashion designer, yet she was determined to be an entrepreneur with the support of family and friends. She recalls the experience as an 8-month boot camp (check out the making-of videos and images on her Facebook page).
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I have always been fascinated by women who are unmistakably curious and resilient. Chris is certainly one of them.
"We should always stay fluid and let our minds be reshaped. You can equip and empower yourself with knowledge, which is really the thing that nobody can take away from you." - Chris Yen
Together in this episode, we explored Chris' origins and traveled to the time when she was growing up in Boston and trained Wushu with her mom (Bow Sim Mark) every day. We talked why she made the decision to create a fashion line, in an industry that has always been crowded and competitive. In addition to having two very fashion-forward members of the family (mom and brother), Chris added:
"Both the film and fashion world can have a huge impact on people's views. Sometimes distorted, sometimes very positive and profound. I'm fortunate to have access through both mediums which can set strong encouraging statements and actions. I see these two industries together as a powerful tool to influence young minds. This article spoke to me on a level insipired me to take on a new responsibility. I want and show other young women that we can be just as capable and influencial without the need to constantly appeal sexy and provactive." - Chris Yen
We also talked about resilience. What were some of the challenges, rejections Chris had to face as an actress and an entrepreneur? How does she bounce back?
Chris wants to thank her family for their unconditional love and support: mom (Bow Sim Mark), dad (Klyster Yen) brother (Donnie Yen).
Show Notes (Time is approximate):
36:00 Tell us about some of the particular challenges and thrills and excitements
39:00 What are some of the lessons learned?
49:30 What is the advice you would give to women at any age, given what you have learned about how the world has changed?
10:15 CY: I always wanted to create something edgy and fashionable, yet wearable in the martial arts world
18:15 CY: My life basically consisted of training and wushu and music 25:00 CY: I don’t really look at fashion the way that most people do - there needs to be purpose.
31:45 CY: if I could give advice to young aspiring actors, I would say “Don’t go for it!”
36:30 CY: Without having that experience of rejection, there’s no chance I could still be doing what I’m doing now.
40:15 CY: This is an industry where you have to be extremely organized and efficient or else it’s going to burn away your time, your funding, and your energy very quickly
49:45 CY: I’m still trying to figure out my stamp in all of this - what are those one or two core elements I can really hone in on?
50:15 CY: We should always stay fluid and let our minds be reshaped. You can equip and empower yourself with knowledge, which is really the thing that nobody can take away from you.
People, Companies, and Media:
10:00 CY Fusion - the Chris Yen Fusion Collection
13:00 Bow Sim Mark
22:30 The Business of Fashion - “Weaving better narratives about women” (Article)
23:45 Donnie Yen
40:40 FIDM - Fashion Industry of Design and Merchandising
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