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The Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Superstar Yao Chen

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

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.)

Firestorm

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.

TIME T100

Can a Thermostat Save the Planet?

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

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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

TIME TIME 100

Robert Redford Explains the ‘Sundance Effect’

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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.

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