Joan Chen, actress, director, producer and screenwriter, was born Chén Chông on April 26, 1961 in Shanghai, China. She was discovered at the age 14 by Jiang Qing, wife of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, because of her marksmanship on the school's rifle range. In 1975, she entered the Actor's Training Program at the Shanghai Film Studio. In 1977, Joan was discovered by film director Xie Jin who chose her for a starring role in his film Youth. At age 17, she was approved for early acceptance into the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages where she studied English. Chen moved to the USA at age 20. She attended college at the State University of New York at New Paltz and later enrolled at California State University, Northridge near Los Angeles, California to study filmmaking.