We are so thrilled to feature filmmaker, director, actor, writer, activist, and incredible human being Lynn Chen on our Beauty Spotlight series today! Lynn exemplifies so much of what we love here at Maya Chia-- honesty, vulnerability, creativity, flexibility, and intelligence.
You might recognize Lynn from her role playing "Dr. Michelle Lin" on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," or from her roles in television shows ("Shameless," "Silicon Valley") films ("Saving Face," "Go Back to China"), audiobooks ("Crazy Rich Asians," "Land of Big Numbers"), and video games ("Call of Duty: Black Ops III & IV," "Ghost of Tsushima").
Or you might know her from "I Will Make You Mine," a feature film which she wrote, produced, directed and starred in. The movie was an Official Selection of the 2121 SXSW Film Festival and in 2022, Rotten Tomatoes featured it on their list of "81 Best Asian American Movies of All Time" (with a 100% rating). The film is now streaming on VOD and Paramount Plus-- check it out here!
Lynn also has an impressive resume as an activist, having been a spokesperson for The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), worked with A+ (Time's Up API arm), the National Organization of Women (NOW), and is currently on the board of Miry's List and Film Fatales' advisory committee.
And, most importantly, she's just an all-around wonderful person! I've known Lynn for almost twenty years now, and she has only gotten more thoughtful, lovely, and kind as the years go by. I have delighted in watching her career(s) flourish, and seeing all the ways she uses her platform, her voice, and her brilliance to create real change in the world.
Read on to learn more about Lynn, her favorite Maya Chia products, our mutual love of Taylor Swift, and her perfect answer to the last question (dependability is super-underrated! I love it!)
Maya Chia Beauty: What is one thing you do every day?
Lynn Chen: I’m such a creature of habit. I have daily routines revolving around self care, work, and what I eat. But something I am psychotically regimented about is vacuuming my bathroom floor. I seem to shed like crazy, as does my dog, and the white tile shows every little hair and dust particle. I am actually shocked at how much accumulates there in 24 hours. A broom doesn’t cut it, neither does a Swiffer. I now have a special handheld cordless Black and Decker (yes I am old skool) so that I don’t have to lug out the big vacuum.
MCB: Where would you go if you could travel somewhere right now, all expenses paid?
LC: It is my dream to one day visit all the Disney parks around the world. I’d start with Tokyo, during cherry blossom season! To eat sushi and then ride Pirates of the Caribbean? I want that for me.
MCB: Who is the person you wish you could talk to more?
LC: 10 years ago my dad passed away unexpectedly. I talk to him in my head and I still write about him all the time. I even made him into a character in my directorial debut, “I Will Make You Mine,” which I also dedicated to him. But there are still so many things I’ll never know, things I wish I could ask. I also wonder what he’d think of me today. I’ve changed so much in the last decade.
MCB: What are your favorite Maya Chia products — and why? : )
LC: I mean, where to start? Every single thing I’ve tried I’ve fallen madly in love with. Probably the product I reach for most often is The Optimist Hydrating Essence. I spritz it on all day whenever my face feels tight or I just need to feel refreshed. The mist is super fine and soothing, as is the scent. I also love the The Great Cleanse Cleansing Oil - it does an excellent job of thoroughly removing caked-on makeup and mascara. When I’m so tired I don’t want to even think about washing my face, it helps to have this as the first step in my nighttime skincare routine. And even though I just started using the Straight A Advanced Gentle Retinol Treatment and cannot speak to its long term results, I do appreciate how lovely the texture is.
MCB: What's your "sliding doors" moment? Some time when your life almost took a totally different direction.
LC: From 2009-2019, I was a food blogger. I remember taking pictures of my food with a point and shoot camera (this was back before there were smartphones). Everyone thought I was absolutely bonkers. But because I was an early adopter, many opportunities came easily to me. For a while, it seemed like becoming a food personality was going to be my career, until I developed celiac and could no longer eat gluten, let alone touch flour or cook with it in the kitchen. That’s when I pivoted back to narrative storytelling. It did teach me so much about the process of creating something and letting it all go.
MCB: What is the biggest challenge you face now or have faced in the past? How did you overcome it?
LC: I always thought I was going to be a mom. My husband and I tried for several years but ultimately, our infertility struggle was not worth the financial or emotional distress. Even a decade after our decision, I still find the situation challenging at times. But the main way I get through it was by embracing all the freedom we have. We take more risks on ourselves, because we don’t have the responsibility of children. I try to remember to be grateful for that, whenever I feel sad about our circumstances. Also, dogs help.
MCB: What do you wish you knew/learned sooner?
LC: I was really late to discovering Taylor Swift. Of course, I had heard of her and enjoyed several songs, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that I became a real fan. Folklore really spoke to me on a deep level, and I have been fascinated learning more about her journey as an artist, storyteller, and human being. I wish I had been listening to her when she was younger, when I was younger. I feel like her music could’ve been helpful for me back then.
MCB: What is one easy thing you do to be more "green" or eco-conscious?
LC: I use re-usable, washable cotton pads for my toners and micellar water. They’re much better than the disposable ones. I have a re-usable Q-tip too, but don’t love the way that feels.
MCB: What's the best advice you've ever received - and think other women might benefit from?
LC: Whenever I hear a “no” (and I hear that quite often) I try not to automatically think thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me?” or “I suck!” Now the first thing I choose to think, which a friend of mine suggested, is “Well, that didn’t go as I would have liked.” Then, after I digest those words, I can cry and lick my wounds — all the while reminding myself that rejection rarely has anything to do with my value as a person.
MCB: What is something you're really proud of?
LC: When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I’m really dependable.