Yue-Sai Kan ( 靳羽西; born in Guilin Guangxi 广西桂林) is a Chinese American television host and producer, entrepreneur, bestselling author and humanitarian. People magazine named her “the most famous woman in China” and Time magazine proclaimed her “the Queen of the Middle Kingdom.”.
Yue-Sai grew up in Hong Kong. She is the oldest of four sisters, and her father Kan Wing-Lin was a revered traditional Chinese painter and calligrapher. She moved to Hawaii where she studied for a degree in music at Brigham Young University in Hawaii. While studying as a piano major, 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 training and life-changing experience marked the beginning of her career in fashion and beauty. She went to New York in 1972, becoming involved in public relations and television production work.
In New York City she founded Yue-Sai Kan Productions and created her first major TV production, a weekly series called “Looking East”. The program was 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. 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 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 of a television program from China on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The program was the first ever co-production of American TV station PBS and China’s CCTV network. The program brought Kan to prominence in China and led the Chinese government to offer her a new television series, One World, which was produced and hosted by Yue-Sai and aired on China’s national television network CCTV. The twice-per-week program, which exposed Chinese viewers to cultures around the world, was the first television series hosted by a Chinese American on national Chinese TV. With a weekly viewership of 300 million people, “One World” gave many Chinese their first glimpse of the outside world. Her broadcast captivated the entire nation and made her a household name. At that time with broadcasts in both China and the United States, she was the ‘most watched woman in the world’, proclaimed by People Magazine. The bilingual scripts and video were used as teaching materials in schools across China and her easy television style influenced a generation of TV journalists in China.
In 2008 Yue-Sai created a new East-meets-West lifestyle retail brand, the House of Yue-Sai, to bring style, elegance and inspiration to Chinese homes, selling a variety of fine home furnishings, bedding, tableware, lighting, decorative accessories and unique gifts, and jewelry. Yue-Sai has also designed and produced a line of Asian female dolls, known as the Yue-Sai WaWa (“doll” in Chinese). Seeing that all dolls in China had blue eyes and blonde hair, Yue-Sai created dolls with distinctive Asian features, accessories and educational facts, to help Asian children develop confidence, knowledge and pride in their heritage as well as educate children of all heritages about Chinese cultures.
Throughout her life Kan has been deeply involved in charitable work. Her many charitable activities include utilizing her own fund to build schools, libraries and award scholarships to outstanding underprivileged students in high schools and universities in China. She was a board member of Meals on Wheel and worked with Orbis international. In 2002, UNICEF named her, alongside other international leaders and celebrities, as its only Global Chinese “Say Yes” ambassador. She is a board member of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, one of China’s biggest charitable organizations committed to improving the health of women and children.
Miss Universe China
Since 2011, Yue-Sai Kan has served as the National Director of Miss Universe China. Yue-Sai has stated that the three aims of the Pageant during her administration are supporting education and charity, and creating a positive image of Chinese women. 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 Organization Pageant held in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12, 2011.
Throughout the years, Yue-Sai received awards from both the United States and China. She received her Doctorate Degree of Humanity from the University of Massachusetts. She is a director of IMAX China, which went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange fall of 2015.