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Yi Zhou: “Integrate more inclusion and diversity.”

I think Hollywood is already doing a lot to integrate more inclusion and diversity in the industry, and I am proud to be part of such a transition in the industry. I think we live in such a challenging time unprecedented in history yet thanks to the pandemic we are learning so much about how […]

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I think Hollywood is already doing a lot to integrate more inclusion and diversity in the industry, and I am proud to be part of such a transition in the industry. I think we live in such a challenging time unprecedented in history yet thanks to the pandemic we are learning so much about how the industry would evolve and how to co-habit and work within the pandemic era, and the omni-digitalization of our future seems to be bought to the present tense by the virus. I feel lots of pressure for my movie and see how we will fit the schedule within the pandemic.


As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Yi Zhou.

YiZhou was born in China, raised in Rome, Italy, and studied in Paris and London, earning degrees in political science and economics. She is a polyglot artist whose video works have been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennale, Sundance Film Festival, and Cannes Film Festival. In 2011, she relocated to China and founded her personal brand company YiZhouStudio in Shanghai and Hong Kong and in 2018 in LA. She is currently developing her first feature film ‘Stars and Scars’ as director.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Istarted my career as an artist. The movie industry is not an ultimate goal, but rather an extension of my artist research to a broader audience and a variety in the storytelling.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have so many that I have started a memoir, but I would wait a few more years, as I still have so many more adventures to live and add-in.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think I have changed country and city so many times, at least 7 (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Rome, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles now), in each town, there would be so many tales… mistakes are not funny; they are wounds you would remember forever. The latest is that the difference between the totalitarian regime and infant labor law vs. ultra sophisticated liberal innovative California democratic legislature, it’s a big stretch, there are many steps to learn before we change a country to get beforehand, sometimes the idea of adventuring into the new and unknown is more exciting than foreseeing potential issues. But we learn from mistakes. For this, I have started studying a bit more US legislature as a hobby.

Okay, thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

That’s a big challenge. I hope thanks to my movie, Stars and Scars, I will be able to contribute to that discourse. I will be directing the film.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

Ennio Morricone, the il maestro, has written six short pieces to support my early works in 2009–2013. His music has so many layers you can hear in between. Not only are we emotionally transported by its storytelling aspect, but there are always new nuances, we can discover each time we play his compositions. His music has a lot of visualization power. They enrich my imagination.

As an insider, this might be obvious to you, but I think it’s instructive to articulate this for the public who might not have the same inside knowledge. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

The world has so many traces of its origins, developments on different continents, the advantage of diverse storytelling in the industry would only enrich our culture and philosophical horizons.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

I think Hollywood is already doing a lot to integrate more inclusion and diversity in the industry, and I am proud to be part of such a transition in the industry. I think we live in such a challenging time unprecedented in history yet thanks to the pandemic we are learning so much about how the industry would evolve and how to co-habit and work within the pandemic era, and the omni-digitalization of our future seems to be bought to the present tense by the virus. I feel lots of pressure for my movie and see how we will fit the schedule within the pandemic.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is not only being able to express empathy, utopic ideals, gather the votes at rallies, but also have loyal public and private persona matching to avoid demagoguery. A true leader is also street smart, knows how to adapt to sudden adversities, and inspires people for respect and therefore follows his/her indications.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) Wash Your Hands. I wish the world would have been more prepared for pandemics. The development of technologies made us neglect health system enhancement.

2) Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer. We need to gather our allies for all situations.

3) Love is not Blind. True love is companionship, a slow flame that lasts in time rather than consumed by the desire created by dopamine.

4) Polyvagal Theory. Relax in all situations is vital to face our daily existence.

5) The Telomere Effects. Keep our cells healthy to obtain longevity.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I wish to advocate more coherence in leaders and less blaming games.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” from George Bernard Shaw. I believe we are raw marbles and we need to carve our true self out throughout our lives through continuous self-improvement.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Anderson Cooper, I admire his journalistic ethics and how funny he seems to be off duty and I love the documentary about his mother, she was such a visionary inspirational woman.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@yizhouofficial (instagram, Snap, FB, tiktok)

@yizhoutweets (twitter)

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