Born to a Tibetan artist and a Swiss anthropologist, Yangzom Brauen (pronounced YAHNG-zom Bhrown) gained an appreciation for the arts at a young age.
She attended school at Europe's prestigious University of Theater and Music in Bern and was soon thereafter cast in a local television program, Manne Zimmer, on the National Swiss Television Network. Her career snowballed from there as she earned more acting jobs around Europe, and her big break finally came in 2005 when she landed the role of Inari in the Hollywood sci-fi adventure Aeon Flux, starring Charlize Theron.
With a strong devotion to her cultural heritage, Brauen is an activist in the Tibetan Freedom movement, seeking to bring attention to the suffering and the violation of human rights that Tibetans face under the political control of the People's Republic of China. She was formerly the president of the Tibetan Youth Association (and was arrested in Moscow in 2008 for protesting the Beijing Olympics), and makes frequent appearances on the radio show "The Tibet Connection" - a program that was developed to help listeners "understand the unique experience and legacy of Tibet and to provide a conduit between Tibet and the rest of the world."
In 2008 she wrote Across Many Mountains which became an instant bestseller in Germany and Switzerland and is now available worldwide. In an interview with Los Feliz Ledger, she discussed the process of interviewing her now grandmother, saying that, "I asked so many questions. I wanted to know the sense of how she felt to be there [in Tibet]." In a German-Swiss film called Escape from Tibet - she plays a woman, Dolma, who struggles to bring her children safely into Nepal, a story that is not unfamiliar to her family.
For more information about Yangzom or to see photos from her films, please visit her website.
Photo credit: Adam Sheridan-Taylor
This article was originally published in October 2011, and has been updated for the
October 2012 paperback release.
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