On June 21, Janet Yang, who is best known as the executive producer of the groundbreaking film The Joy Luck Club, was honored with a pillar at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Architect Renzo Piano’s concept for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is not only a preservation of Hollywood excellence, but also pays homage to the past, present, and future of the industry with the pillars that support it — figuratively and literally. Yang joins Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Bob Iger and Willow Bay, as well as many other icons who have had an impact on the industry.
During the unveiling hosted by Good Trouble actress Kara Wang, Daniel Dae Kim took the dais to sing the praises of Yang and thought it was a fitting honor, acknowledging her as a “pillar to Asian Hollywood”. Others who honored Yang included Bing Chen (CEO and Co-Founder of Gold House), Julia S. Gouw (Academy Museum Founding Supporter and Retired President and COO – East-West Bank), Lisa Henson (CEO, The Jim Henson Company), Fiona Ma (CA State Treasurer), Bill Kramer (Academy Museum Director and President | Incoming Academy CEO) and many others.
In addition, the current AMPAS president David Rubin described Yang as an “indomitable positive spirit guided by a mission”. Rubin has worked with Yang for numerous years and has seen her impact on the industry as she has taken on projects that were unconventional and “risky” by Hollywood standards at the time. In particular, he talked about her impact on the Asian community in Hollywood which began with the aforementioned The Joy Luck Club.
When Yang took the stage, she returned the praise to the audience celebrating her. “I am excited to celebrate with so many people that have inspired me,” Yang smiled, adding that this is what happens when “community comes together and creates great work.”
Always an advocate for inclusivity, Yang began her career by running the first distribution company to market Chinese films in North America. She also brokered the reintroduction of American cinema to the Chinese marketplace on behalf of several studios after a decades-long hiatus.
Yang is a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as a Board Officer chairing its Membership Committee. She spoke about working iconic directors like Steven Spielberg on Empire of the Sun (Warner Bros), as well as her long-time partnership with Oliver Stone. She also worked on the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt. Most recently, she served as Executive Producer on the Oscar-nominated animated feature, Over the Moon. She is a co-founder of Gold House and an advisory board member of Asia Society Southern California where she also chairs its highly regarded US-Asia Entertainment Summit.
Other attendees at the exclusive event included icon James Hong (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Julia S. Gouw (Academy Museum Founding Supporter and Retired President and COO – East-West Bank), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, TV personality Lisa Ling, Oscar-Nominated Songwriter Diane Warren, Leonardo Nam (Westworld), Alan Yang (Loot showrunner), Christine Ko (Dave), Sherry Cola (Good Trouble), Olympians Alex & Maia Shibutani, among others.