Suzanne Yu - Executive Producer, Doctor and Influencer
Written by: Nikoleta Morales
Cultured Focus is pleased to introduce the talented Hollywood producer and doctor - Suzanne Yu. Yu was born in ShenYang, China but immigrated to the US for better opportunities and freedom. She is an Executive Producer for "The Comeback Trail," starring three Oscar-winning actors, Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, and Morgan Freeman. She is also a medical doctor, with a PhD, and is currently an anesthesiologist in New York City. Readers will be fascinated to learn her unique path and ascension to becoming a true industry insider working alongside the biggest names in show business.
It all began with a painful childhood. Yu recalls dark memories from her childhood in China that became the trigger for her desire for change. “During a horrific turbulent time in China’s history, my father’s political views did not agree with the communist party. He was forced to step down from his position as a result of his opposition, then was punished for his anti-cultural revolution view. A traumatic, yet hardening scene in my life was when my father was tortured and beaten, in front of us. After these events, my whole family was exiled to a remote farm far away from the big city, to get re-educated by peasants,” Yu recalled.
Yu started to feel singled out as a child and treated differently by others, even being labeled as a “bad child.” “Even though I studied well and was always at the head of my class, I was never granted an award when the other students were receiving theirs,” she recalled.
What kept Yu happy and inspired was her passion for the arts. “My passion for the arts was immense, and even at a young age I was very competitive by nature and my dream was to be an artist,” she said.
Yu recalled telling her mother about her dream. “She held my hand and said that it would be too risky to be an artist in China, that I was a brilliant child and should not waste my education or potential. She wanted me to be a doctor, like herself, so that I could always take care of myself. I looked into my mother‘s eyes and I realized this would be my mother’s decision for me for the rest of my life.” At the age of 16, Yu was accepted into the China Medical University and later graduated with a medical degree. Nonetheless, Yu never forgot her dream. She was drawn to America and the desire for freedom. “Freedom has always been a strong desire that drove me, especially during and after a turbulent 10 years of my life, surviving the Cultural Revolution in China,” she said. After she graduated from China Medical University, she was accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1988, she moved to America. Even though she initially struggled with her English, within three and a half years, she received her PhD degree. “I challenged myself once again by studying hard and within a year I was able to pass all the licensing exams, and move to New York City to start my residency. I began my studies at the NYU Medical Center, and this experience consisted of the first time I felt discriminated against because of my race,” she recalls. “I was expected to be well behaved and quiet, totally submissive, and to never speak or ask questions about anything. Once again, I felt a feeling similar to my childhood and had a flashback back to the farm and being punished like I was in China.” Despite those negative feelings, Yu didn’t get discouraged. She kept going. “I always knew I was a survivor. To this day, that year of training has taught me so much in my life and it truly helped me to grow into the professional person I am today,” she said. “I am thankful for the hardships that I went through, as they made me strong, and enabled me to persevere. Ultimately, I grew into an influential individual and a great anesthesiologist.”
After graduating from her residency training as an anesthesiologist, she became an assistant professor and an attending physician at the New York Medical College at the Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan. “I became well-liked among the other students and residents, and what I learned from my training is that I know how to inspire others.”
Yu was inspired to create a large company and to be her own boss. ”I quit working in the hospital even though I missed my teaching experience. I started my first business in independent practice and created an anesthesiologist practice group. I provided anesthesia services throughout New York State, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester, Brooklyn, Yorkers, Long Island, and my business grew very quickly because of my reputation. The rising success of my company has been very emotional and financially rewarding.”
Yu never forgot her passion for the arts. She recalls how seven years ago, faith intervened. She met actor and producer, Kenneth Simmons, at a coffee shop in New York, which led to romance between the two. She became involved with his projects and her career as an Executive Producer began.
“Producing has drawn me into the arts even more. I love being part of the creation of a project from the beginning and going through all the steps of making a movie. Watching the film grow and come to life, interests me to a great extent and so does the involvement in our own movie projects,” she said. “One day, I was offered a project through Kenny via his close friend Jeff Warner who is an executive producer and part of Cloudburst Entertainment. Jeff asked me if I would be interested in the P & A on a fantastic action film, titled “Above Suspicion,” which was a film with Emilia Clarke.”
This is how she was introduced to big Hollywood producers. She went on to invest with Cloudburst Entertainment on their new release "The Comeback Trail,” starring Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones. “I was instantly attracted to this opportunity. I have aligned myself with this new amazing distribution company Cloudburst and I will be an executive producer on many new films yet to come.” Despite her success, Yu still faces obstacles as an Asian woman in her career. “In addition to the obstacles to overcome as a woman in the medical industry, I am also Asian speaking with an accent that sets me apart from others in the room. Despite the differences between myself and my co-workers, diversity and inclusion in the workplace creates a hub of innovation, and I am very happy to contribute to the future of the industry. I have to show them that I am capable and that I am the best at what I do.”
“Every success has come from long time preparations, determination, persistence and very hard work. It was an adventure for me to come to this country to fulfill my dream, and I come from humble beginnings. The difference in culture and language that I experienced as an immigrant was a difficult barrier. I was determined to succeed and there was no way back,” adds Yu.
Yu is also an executive producer on a film that starts shooting in the spring, "The Mick and The Trick.” “I have a role in the film as a talent. I'm also producing a documentary with Kenneth Simmons, called "The Rise - America's Unsung Heroes" with Cool Hand Luke Productions.”
While Yu combines being a doctor and an executive producer successfully, her success comes with a price. “In order to be what you want to be in life, there is always a price to pay. I have sacrificed having a child and motherhood for my career, since I would have to be very focused on what I wanted in my life - which was to be the best doctor!” "The Comeback Trail": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9aJATnSseo Suzanne Yu’s website: www.suzanneyu.com Suzanne Yu’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.yu.79 Suzanne Yu’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sgyu2004/?igshid=1pv64l4nabph