TIME celebrities

The Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Superstar Yao Chen

"Firestorm" Macau Premiere
ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images Yao Chen attends "Firestorm" press conference during the 56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival on Dec. 13, 2013 in Macau

The Chinese actress is one of TIME's 100 most influential people — but American audiences may be unfamiliar with her on-screen work

Some of Yao Chen’s work goes beyond language barriers. The Chinese actress, who has been named one of the most influential people in the world on this year’s TIME 100 list, does more than grace the big and small screen. As Hannah Beech, TIME’s China bureau chief, notes in her explanation of why the actress deserves the honor, Yao has 66 millon followers on Weibo, a Chinese service along the lines of Twitter, and uses her access to fans to speak out on topics from pollution to censorship.

But when it comes to her acting roles, language has so far meant that she may be unfamiliar to potential followers. So, if you’re new to Yao Chen and don’t speak or read Chinese, here are a few ways you can get to know her work:

Color Me Love

This rom-com won date-night raves and comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada when it was released in 2010. Yao stars as the Anne Hathaway analog, with a demanding fashion-editor boss and an artist boyfriend who may be bad news. The movie is available with English subtitles on DVD and Blu-ray.

My Lucky Star

This 2013 caper is a prequel to Yao’s 2009 movie Sophie’s Revenge; Yao has a small-ish role as a friend of star Ziyi Zhang (The Grandmaster), whose character gets accidentally caught up in a jewel heist. The movie is available with English subtitles on DVD and Blu-ray. (Fun fact: Director Dennie Gordon is best known for her work on American TV series, from Dawson’s Creek to Burn Notice.)


Her most recent role was in this action thriller, in which Yao plays the girlfriend of a former criminal who volunteers to infiltrate a violent gang. The movie is available with English subtitles on DVD and Blu-ray.


Can a Thermostat Save the Planet?

Tony Fadell and Nest are planning to build a more eco-friendly tomorrow

Forget your old home appliances, the new home is all about smart tech. From Bluetooth key locks to app-controlled light bulbs, the new home is undergoing a smart-tech revolution. Tony Fadell, designer of the first iPod, threw his hat into the ring of the smart-tech competition in 2010 with his company Nest. In 2011, Nest announced a high-tech remote controlled thermostat that is constantly learning about your energy use. Fadell’s company was recently bought by Google for 3.2 billion dollars.

When I looked at the environment in 2010 people were working on [renewable energy sources and grid changes]. When you looked at the thermostat and it hadn’t changed in 30 years, you were like, ‘wait a second.’ This is ripe for innovation, this is ripe for disruption … lets go fix that problem,” Fadell said.

Nest is slowly sliding to the forefront of green tech. Its smart thermostat is marketed to the average consumer worried about their wallet, but their underlying mission is to reduce the planet’s total energy consumption. Tony Fadell has been chosen as one of TIME’s top 100 most influential people for 2014.

MORE: Nest Protect Smoke Detector


Robert Redford Explains the ‘Sundance Effect’

Back in 1978, Actor and Director Robert Redford attended a humble event in Salt Lake City called “The United States Film Festival.” There, he found himself in a theatre with maybe four other people, watching a small movie that looked like it was made in someone’s garage on weekends.

The experience led to an epiphany: “This guy has something special to say,” Redford recalls, “I wish there was a way to help him.”

Six years later, in 1984, The Sundance Institute — a sort of boot camp for filmmakers on Redford’s Utah property — assumed control of the U.S. Film Festival. The first Sundance Film Festival followed in January, 1985. The rest, as they say, is history.

On the occasion of 30th anniversary of The Sundance Film Festival, Redford talks with TIME about the rise (and maybe fall) of one of cinema’s most influential institutions.

TIME the backstory

Patti Smith: Photographer’s Muse

Poet, musician, artist and memoirist Patti Smith, one of this year's TIME 100 honorees, tells TIME about her life in front of the lens.

TIME asked artist, writer and musician Patti Smith, one of this year’s TIME 100 honorees, to tell us about her life in front of the lens. Smith shares some of her personal photographs and offers photographers some advice, from a subject’s point of view.

To be the subject of a photographer, whether artist or blessed amateur, is a privilege and a joy. I was delighted as a child to sit for my first portrait. It made me feel special. As a teenager I posed for my siblings in dramatic lighting borrowed from James Whale and film-noir.

In the late sixties, before the conspiratorial lens of Judy Linn, I referenced French New Wave. My schoolmate Frank Stefanko shot me as I first tread upon the road of Rock and Roll. Kate Simon documented the early steps in black and white. Lynn Goldsmith often joined my band on the road and within her studio we shot the atmosphere of Easter, joyfully in color.

There have been so many moments of collaboration, both intense and ebullient, allowing me to experience a sense of being a muse, a hot shot, or merely myself. In 1978, Annie Leibovitz shot me in New Orleans behind a small wall of flame for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. In the early eighties, my only photographer was my late husband, Fred Sonic Smith. After Fred’s untimely death, Steven Sebring documented my way back to public life. Michael Stipe photographed my first tour with Bob Dylan. Bruce Weber shot me in a ballet gown and jewels worthy of the throat of Liz Taylor. Oliver Ray, who took the cover picture for Peace and Notice, snapped a moment as I posed for Richard Avedon for the New Yorker.

Finally, I must speak of Robert Mapplethorpe. I was his first model, a fact that fills me with pride. The photographs he took of me contain a depth of mutual love and trust inseparable from the image. His work magnifies his love for his subject and his obsession with light.

So, as one who has stood before the camera of many artists and friends, I can only advise a photographer to love his subject, and if this is not possible, love the light that surrounds her.

—By Patti Smith

Marco Grob’s portrait of Smith for this year’s TIME 100 can be viewed here.

Smith’s memoir Just Kids is published by Ecco.

Judy Linn’s book of portraits, Patti Smith 1969-1976, published by Abrams Books can be purchase here.

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