Meet the Hollywood producer who got her start in China

CGTN | Updated: 2018-01-12 10:21
Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi attends the 14th annual AFI Awards Luncheon on January 10, 2014, at the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills. [Photo/VCG]

Their appropriately named, Significant Productions, has been the driving force behind some critical and commercially successful hits such as Fruitvale Station and Dope.

During their eight-year collaboration, she and Whitaker have helped to push the careers of director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan to A-list status.

“I’ve now been in the film/entertainment industry for almost 18 years; paid my dues, learned my trade, built my credibility …” she said.

“However, there still are folks that I come across who think because I’m an Asian woman, I could be easily bullied or I’m timid – well, they’re wrong. My Buddhist teacher said I have a tongue like a knife but a heart of tofu.” She was clearly amused by that recollection, breaking out in laughter.

Even though Bongiovi is now primarily working on productions in the US, she is currently making visits to Beijing where her team is part of a China-US co-production documentary on American Stephon Marbury, a basketball superstar in China.

According to Deadline Hollywood, three years ago while Significant Productions was working on “Dope,” Bongiovi ended up writing Marbury a letter to see if he would be willing to do a film on his life. “He actually wrote back and said, ‘I’ll talk to you, and see if you are full of crap'. ” They then got on a video chat.

Bongiovi is thankful she is experienced in production practices of both China and Hollywood making it far more manageable for her to navigate between the two.

“There are big differences between the two, especially culturally,” she said. “Fortunately, I speak Mandarin fluently and understand both ends of the world well, and can adapt and be the bridge between Eastern and Western culture.”

Bongiovi even understands the complexity of the current relationship between China and Hollywood.

“The relationship is based on transactions and investments… not really an artistic and creative endeavor,” she added.

“Until there are true collaborations that can encompass art and culture – that serve both markets authentically, then we can break some grounds.”

Bongiovi offered up some words of advice to anyone interested in a career in the film industry. “Just make sure your purpose and intention are pure, and your passion is intact. Then you can flourish,” she said.



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