Asian-American Star: Christine Yen


By: Caroline Fong, ASPIRING volunteer

Christine Yen is the younger sister of Hong Kong star, Donnie Yen. She was immersed in martial arts from a young age. Her mother ran a kung fu school in Boston.

Chris has starred in films, such as Black Rose, Adventures of Johnny Tao, and her most recent endeavor, Give 'em Hell, Malone.

We got to chat with Chris, whose movie Give 'em Hell, Malone scores a 9.9/10 on IMDb!

As a child, did you have a choice in practicing martial arts?
As a four-year-old child, I don't think you have too many choices. Martial arts was a given in my family. Especially since my mom started in her childhood and dedicated her entire life to the teachings of the art. I remember growing up in my mom's kung fu school and being surrounded by martial arts everyday. Looking back, as I got older, I began to appreciate my background and where I came from.

What is a typical week for you?
Every week is different and unpredictable in this business. I could get an audition any time, or get a call to meet with a director or another producer. Sometimes I might get offered a gig on the spot and just have to take off. I used to travel back and forth from L.A. to Hong Kong when I was working in film production. Now that I'm trying to get my own projects off the ground, I need to stay here as long as possible.

As an actor and producer in such a competitive business, there's no room to slack off. Working out and maintaining a regular routine is a must. I have to stay in shape and be ready to jump back into another action role when it comes. I try to enjoy as much time as I can with my family, and I have two very needy dogs that demand a lot of attention.

How was the transition to being an on-screen martial artist?
My first action and acting role was as a child in a Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix series, Charlie's Angels, Crouching Tiger) film. I think that first-time experience working with one of the greatest action choreographers and directors helped contribute a great deal to my foundation. When I stepped back in front of the camera as an adult, I was able to grasp what was going on. My training and having being exposed to the industry definitely helped so it wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. But it wasn't so much the transition in being an on-screen martial artist, but more about being an actor and the character while delivering the martial arts skills needed on-screen.

What are you currently working on?
I'm trying to move one of my projects overseas. It's an action-fantasy romance story I developed and I'm aiming for a China-Hollywood co-production. I've also started a comic book series online based on that script and my company is talking to some people in Hong Kong who want to develop a game around our characters. Being Chinese-American and being raised in a traditional family, I feel privileged to be able to understand and live in both cultures. I'm currently looking for initial funding and learning a lot about what it takes to be an independent producer.

Do you have any advice from your experiences along the way that you'd like to share with us?

  • You can have all the talent in the world, and you can have all the luck in the world, but you still have to continue developing yourself and your craft.
  • At the end of the day, it's tenacity that counts the most.  Follow your dreams. I know that sounds clich�, but it is so true.
  • I think one of the worst things for any person to live with is regret. Embrace the ups and downs because that's what life is all about. And never, never, never give up.