To the world, XiXi Yang is one of the most watched millennial television personalities.
Internationally, millions of viewers around the world have watched her anchor “Live From the
Red Carpet” for the Associated Press from some of the most glamorous nights in Hollywood like
the Oscars, Grammys, and more. Domestically, she lends her pop culture expertise on-air for
shows like “On the Story” and “Across America” on CNN and HLN. Digitally, she’s one of the
most prominent Asian-American bloggers in media and fashion. Yet underneath all her glowing
achievements and industry accolades, XiXi is just my older sister.
For as long as I can remember, XiXi has always been my “famous older sister.” It was almost
like stating a fact, nothing special about it, just something I grew up knowing. I would always
chuckle whenever my friends would ask me if I had any siblings because I knew as soon as I told
them about her, they would ogle at her social media following and all her fabulous selfies with
celebrities. But maybe that’s because beneath all those layers of fame and admiration she
receives, she’s a real person, with so many amazing, down-to-earth qualities that make me proud
to call her my sister.
Now, 19 years later, I’m sitting across from her, interviewing her for the very first time for her
first magazine cover. So you can imagine how nervous I was about this interview and this article
because I wanted do justice the XiXi I knew. So I decided to first do what we do best: crack a
joke. I bet none of you reading this right now know that my sister has a weird obsession with
Erika (Q): So XiXi, what do you love more – me or Tabasco?
XiXi (A): Well, Tabasco lasts longer and goes with more things!
Erika (Q): Ha! I see how it is. Since somebody wants to get all saucy, let’s dive right into it. So
when and how did you know you wanted to go into the entertainment media industry?
XiXi (A): For as far as I can remember, I’ve always rampaged our mom’s closet, playing
dress-up and just having fun with it. I think the day that I discovered our family’s karaoke mic
was a changing moment, especially when I realized that with the press of a button, my voice
could echo through all the thin walls! And from there on out, there was not one family gathering
where you wouldn’t find me performing mock interviews with our family members. When I
reached middle school, I discovered my newest obsession in life – a little show called TRL on
MTV! This was back in the era of original VJ’s and everyday I would run home from school to
catch the latest music videos and celebrity interviews. I wanted to be a VJ so bad back then. I
really thought they were living the dream! Not only did they get to be on TV and befriend all the
coolest celebrities, they also brought so much joy to people’s lives. TRL has really be there for
me throughout the years. All I ever wanted to do in live was to be a VJ but I didn’t feel like it was
an attainable goal because I couldn’t find a lot of ethnic face like mine on TV.
Erika (Q): So having never seen any faces similar to your own, did this discourage you and how
did you go about facing this challenge?
XiXi (A): I was discouraged in the beginning but I’ve had to learn to own it and accept who I
truly am. I remember the first year I moved to LA, I landed a big meeting with one of the top
broadcasting agencies in town. I walked in with stars in my eyes and within seconds, the head
agent took one look at me, one look at my resume and said, “We can’t represent you unless you
change your name. Middle America won’t trust a name they can’t pronounce.” But even if I
changed my name, I still won’t be able to change my face! They’re still going to see this Asian
fierceness walk in! After going to countless auditions and meetings, I ended up getting very
frustrated. I couldn’t book jobs because I didn’t have the experience they wanted, but how was I
supposed to get more experienced if I wasn’t working? I couldn’t wait for the “dinosaurs” to
feel like the time was right to give a fresh face like me a shot. I decided that I was going to be the
change I wanted to see. Before opportunities came knocking, I had to build the door first.
Erika (Q): Explain to me more in detail about your journey to becoming the journalist and media
influencer you are now.
XiXi (A): Well, I’m sure you know that in the beginning, even our own mom and dad weren’t
really sure what I was doing! Shoot, I didn’t know. I didn’t know where I was going or how I was
going to get there. All I knew was that I was going to give it all I’ve got. At the age of 19, I
moved across the country to start my career in media. I transferred from NYU to UCLA because
I knew I had to be in the city where everything was happening. It was my dream to work for a
network back then, but after hundreds of auditions, I was told I wasn’t good enough. I decided to
start my own independent media company. I saved up a few hundred dollars and invested in a
handheld camcorder and a cheap karaoke mic. Yes, you read right – a karaoke mic was all I
could afford. I went around LA and interviewed everyone and anyone I could get my hands on! I
put all my exclusive interviews on a blog site and within months, I was getting so much traffic I
had to get a better server! As more publicists and managers took notice of my interviews, the
requests for interviews came pouring in. I got a few workers on board and just like that, with no
prior experience in business, I turned my side hustle into a profitable LLC. Don’t get it twisted!
Being a young CEO was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done my whole life. For every
second of glamour, there were eight hours of hard work behind the scenes. I had to learned all
levels of operation – shooting, editing, producing, selling ads, pitching, payroll… shoot, I even
ended up wiping and cleaning up after my team! A few months later, I got an investor on-board.
I ended up turning my first pop culture blog site into a 30-minute weekly TV show in LA. I was
doing everything I had to do, working overtime with no weekends or holidays off. I thought it
was all happening but one of our syndication partners filed for bankruptcy. At 23, I went from
making 150K a year to 0 just like that. I felt defeated and went through periods of depression. A
few of friends encouraged me to fall back on my college degree and get a corporate job, but
somehow, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let this setback define me. I couldn’t let this be how my
I hatched up a plan and forced myself to bounce back up. I figured if what goes up must come
down, then what goes down must come up, right? Simple law of gravity! I got the right team of
people behind me and little did I know at the time that my name was being mentioned in rooms I
haven’t walked into yet. I started booking national spots on-air. From E! to CBS News to the
Associated Press to CNN/HLN, my media footprint started to expand. I was shocked to see a few
of the celebrities and their teams recognized that I was getting up there in the media circuit and
they had been there for me since the beginning! I remember back in 2015 when I anchored “Live
From the Red Carpet” for the very first time for the Associated Press, my 80-something-year-old
grandma in China somehow managed to find the livestream! She didn’t understand a word of
English but let’s just say she watched the entire show with a smile on her face. It’s moments like
this that is so rewarding to me! I feel like I have been blessed with so many incredible
opportunities and that my journey is greater than myself. Nothing makes me happier than
receiving messages from women all over the world, asking me for advice or telling me that my
story gives them inspiration! Through my new company, I want to pay it forward and provide
opportunities to women of all ethnic backgrounds that I didn’t get when I first started my career.
Erika (Q): Speaking of your new media company XYZ Media, tell us about it!
XiXi (A): I co-Founded XYZ Media with my boyfriend William Puetz because we wanted to
create a media company that could truly celebrate diversity! We aim to inspire, create and
educate. In addition to covering a diverse range of topics relevant to the social generation, we
will also be giving opportunities to people from all ethnic backgrounds. We will be holding
seminars on media training, entrepreneurship, and social media management. Later this fall,
XYZ will be launching a series of digital channels with original content focusing on
entertainment, fashion/beauty, lifestyle, and more. Stay tuned!
Erika (Q): What does it mean to be a “Global Mogul?”
XiXi (A): This is just a term that I coined for all the millennial go-getters out there to create
their own opportunities and to live the lives they’ve always dreamed. I constantly get direct
messages from people all over the world, who want to do what I do, and they always ask me
“XiXi, how can I be like you on the red carpets, interviewing celebrities?” And so I say to them,
don’t wait to get hired to start working; nowadays with the power of social media, you don’t
need to wait for anyone to give you permission to start working. If you want to be a host, start
creating your own show on Youtube. If you want be a writer, start writing your own shows. If
you wanna be an actor, start making your own projects. Learn all levels of operation. It really is
Erika (Q): What’s the #GlobalMoguls mantra? Break it down for us!
XiXi (A): Pieces of advice I’d like to give to the readers would be:
1. Take ownership of your life. Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. You are the
driver of your own life. Don’t let anyone steal your seat!
2. Be selective of who you let in to your inner circle. Your tribe dictates your vibe. Sometimes,
it’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.
3. Celebrate your failures and embrace rejections. Each time you fail, you are actually one step
closer to your goal! If you’re not getting rejected every day, you’re not aiming high enough.
4. Don’t hide your vulnerability. Part of empowerment is giving yourself permission to be seen
as exactly as you are. Sometimes your weaknesses are your biggest strength.
5. OWN IT! Be you. Do you. For you. No one else is you in this world and this is your greatest
Erika (Q): Lastly, I know you’re a product junkie. What are some of the must-have fashion or
beauty products for all the ladies this season?
XiXi (A): I am absolutely obsessed with my girl Tiffany @HairLuvByTiffany’s new Bleu Luna
hair products! I’m obsessed with protecting the natural integrity of my hair and after trying Bleu
Luna, I’m blown away by all the products. They are all organic, vegan, sulfate-free, and
paraben-free. Makeup-wise, I love anything from BH Cosmetics. I’ve been feeling a lot of
vibrant colors lately and the pigment of their vibrant eyeshadows look fantastic on my skin! As
far as fashion goes, I am so excited for my best friend celebrity fashion designer’s new collection
with Revolve! Michael Costello x Revolve is absolutely sickening. I don’t know how he keeps
coming up with more and more creative styles! Michael knows my body… what do you think
about this sexy bodycon LBD of his that I’m currently wearing?
To the world, XiXi Yang is one of the most watched millennial television personalities.