Cultural Change-makers

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Text: Jocelyn Lau & Lucien Low

Source: Shutterstock

Ang Lee (b.1954), film director
Taiwan

Lee is a director and screenwriter with a string of acclaimed films to his name, including Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His work on Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi won him Academy Awards for Best Director. His films are significant in their ability to transcend cultural barriers and achieving international recognition.

Source: Shutterstock

Aishwarya Bachchan Rai (b.1973), actress
India

Considered one of the most influential Indian celebrities, the actress, model and Miss World 1994 is remembered for many star roles, including in Devdas (2002) – the first Bollywood film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival; Bride and Prejudice (2004), her first major English-language film; and the more recent high-grossing Enthiran. She also backs charitable causes, such as UNAIDS, for which is currently the Goodwill Ambassador.

Source: Shutterstock

Jimmy Choo (b.1948), fashion designer
Malaysia

The son of a shoe cobbler, Choo designed high-end women’s footwear that were much sought-after by celebrities, including Princess Diana and Julia Roberts. His collaboration with Vogue’s editor T.Y. Mellon turned Choo into a global brand, and expanded into handbags and other accessories. Today Choo is an Ambassador for Footwear Education at the London College of Fashion, focused on crafting a small number of high-quality shoes and training his protégés in making high-end footwear.

Source: Shutterstock

PSY (Park Jae-sang) (b.1977), singer
South Korea

“King of YouTube”: Psy’s “Gangnam Style” became the first music video to cross 1 billion views on YouTube in 2012 (3.2 billion views in Aug 2018), propelling the singer from relative obscurity to global fame. On New Year’s Eve in 2012, Psy performed with American rapper MC Hammer in front of a live audience in Times Square, New York City, an event that was globally televised. He is credited for bridging K-Pop to the international stage.

Source: Shutterstock

Shah Rukh Khan (b.1965), actor
India

He has acted in more than 80 Bollywood films, including the highest-grossing Indian films in 2017, Raees (“Wealthy”). One of the most PR-savvy film stars in the world, he is also known for his lucrative endorsement and entrepreneurship ventures, as well as philanthropic endeavours. In 2017, Khan began hosting TED Talks India: Nayi Soch (“new thinking”), the first global Hindi TV talk show and a first-time collaboration between TED and Star India, a unit of 21st Century Fox.

Source: China Broadway Entertainment

Jonathan Lee (b.1958), musician & producer
Taiwan

A very influential record producer in Mandopop music, Lee wrote and produced hugely popular classic hits during the 1990s and 2000s, including Jackie Chan’s “The Sincere Hero” and Wakin Chau’s “You Make Me Happy and Sad”. Lee also collaborates with famous movie directors, designs and produces his own brand of hand-made guitars, and is currently working on writing music for an original Chinese musical, Road to Heaven: The Jonathan Lee Musical.

Source: Shutterstock

Mo Yan (b.1955), novelist & short-story writer
China

The very prolific novelist & short story writer was the first mainland Chinese resident to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012. Swedish historian Peter Englund refers to Mo Yan’s style as “damn unique”.

Source: Shutterstock

Arundhati Roy (b.1961), fiction & non-fiction writer
India

Roy catapulted to international fame with her debut novel The God of Small Things, which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction (1997). The rights to her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, were sold in more than 20 countries. Roy is also a political activist for human rights and environmental issues.

Source: Shutterstock

Jackie Chan (b.1954), actor
Hong Kong

Known for his acrobatic fighting stunts, comic timing and use of improvised weapons, the world-famous Chan has acted in over 150 films since the 1960s. According to reports, he may star in the Bollywood super-hit film Aankhen when a second instalment is released in 2020. In addition to the movies, Chan is also a well-known philanthropist, lending his support to various humanitarian and environmental causes through charities such as UNICEF and his own Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation.

Source: Shutterstock

Namie Amuro (b.1977), singer
Japan

Constantly compared with leading Western artists like Janet Jackson and Madonna,  her album sales in Japan alone exceeded that of American pop idols. Throughout her two-decade long music career, Amuro popularised mixing foreign sounds with traditional Japanese pop. Amuro officially retired in September 2018 with a final concert Namie Amuro Final Tour 2018: Finally.

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