Fresh Faces

Yao Chen

Yao Chen is a popular Chinese actress known for having the largest number of fans on Sina Weibo (China's version of Twitter) with over 71 million as of August 2014. Ms. Yao was named by Time magazing on the list of 100 global celebrities in 2014. Likewise, she is listed as the 83rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes on the same year.

Ms. Yao was born in Shishi City, Quanzhou, Fujian province to a middle-class family and studied Chinese folk dance at the Beijing Dance Academy from 1993 to 1997 and the Beijing Film Academy from 1999 to 2003. She made her acting debut was as the daughter of a powerful martial artist in a 2005 television production of "My Own Swordsman." She followed her role as an iconic guerilla leader in the 2008 series "Undercover." Her first stage appearance was as a white-collar heroine in "A Story of Lala's Promotion" in 2009. She has since appeared as Mango in Feng Xiaogang's "If You Are the One 2" (2010), Chen Yili’s "Colour Me Love" (2010) and in Shang Jing’s "My Own Swordsman" (2011). She won the Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress in 2010.

In 2011, she visited the Mae La refugee camp in northern Thailand as UNHCR's Honorary Patron for China. Her Sina Weibo followers increased dramatically during this visit as she won them over by her sincere, fearless communication and her honest engagement with current world events. As she left Mae La she said, "I hope to spend part of every year with refugees."

After her seven-year marriage (2004-2011) to actor Ling Xiao Su ended, she married cinematographer Cao Yu in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Ms. Yao is also a professing Christian and reported to have discovered Christianity when she was 25. She has spoken in support of journalists from the Southern Weekend protesting government enforced media censorship.

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