Brandeis International Business School

024: Global Citizens Creating Global Media

Learn the ins and outs of working in another country or breaking into the entertainment industry

Xian Li serves as Senior Vice President for Production for SK Global Entertainment. In this role, she is in charge of enhancing and expanding the company's slate of Asia-focused, global-minded film and TV projects, following the success of SK Global's co-financed and co-produced film Crazy Rich Asians.

She operates as a creative executive, doing everything from evaluating submitted screenplays; to packaging projects based on both creative and market potential; to procuring properties and scripts from top publishers, filmmakers and producers in both Hollywood and Asia and then offering creative feedback; to film pre-production and post-production processes.

From the Dorm Room

Born and raised in China, Xian graduated from Peking University before moving to LA and attending the University of Southern California for graduate school.

Media and communication have been closer to her heart since she was young, and she always knew she wanted to do something related to media and entertainment. Near the end of undergrad, she had the opportunity to come to the U.S. to study as an exchange student and that’s when she realized that all the transnational media companies that she aspired to work for, and the companies that have global impact, were headquartered in LA. “So, I just knew that I had to move to LA to pursue further studies.”

So Xian went to USC to study immediately after undergrad, but she doesn’t actually suggest others do the same. She suggests taking some time to get industry experience and exposure because, especially in the communications industry, that can be a huge benefit to your post-grad studies.

Moving to another country was an intimidating experience in the beginning. Even though she had studied in the U.S. previously, she had never worked in an environment that was so dramatically different from where she grew up and had internships. “And what that taught me is that I should not be afraid of making mistakes – because I would be making them all the time! It's only natural when you first come to a different environment. Everything seems strange, everything is different, but give yourself enough time to get used to it.”

To the Boardroom

After graduating, Xian started moving up the industry ladder – but she says that, especially in the entertainment industry, you really need to focus on mastering each role before you look towards the next one.

A lot of ambitious young professionals always have one eye on what’s coming, and in some ways that is admirable, but you’re always going to need referrals, you’re always going to want to grow your network, and you’re always going to learn some transferable skills that will help you later in your career.

The Entrepreneurial Edge

Every week, we highlight one piece of advice for aspiring, struggling, and successful-but-want-to-be-even-more-successful entrepreneurs:

Like an entrepreneur, Xian has to wear a lot of hats. So it’s really important that she knows what to prioritize every day. What helps her is starting each day by writing down the tasks she needs to accomplish, prioritizing them, and then focusing on the most important thing first.


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