Sylvia Yu Friedman

Film/TV Executive Producer and Writer

About Sylvia



 Sylvia Yu is an Asia-based Film/TV executive producer and writer specializing in human trafficking. She’s the author of ‘Silenced No More: Voices of ‘Comfort Women’ (2015) and ‘Heart and Soul: The Life Story of Pastor Augustus Chao’ (2002).  An award-winning journalist, Sylvia is producing and directing several film projects and music videos. She takes on speaking engagements in North America and Asia about justice issues. 

Sylvia has managed and directed millions of dollars to humanitarian projects since 2005 that have impacted at the very least more than one million people. For more than 8 years, Sylvia pioneered and managed the funding of humanitarian programs in China, North Korea, S.E. Asia and parts of Africa and Eastern Europe. This work has given her a keen insight into anti-trafficking work, poverty alleviation among migrants and orphans, HIV/AIDS awareness & care for the affected, and North Korea aid and access to many networks in different countries.

While managing a China fund & program for a philanthropy advisory group, Sylvia also worked as a journalist and filmmaker. Besides producing media to raise awareness of international development issues and affairs, one of her strengths is in bringing together various stakeholders– such as NGOs, government, academics, the private sector, and philanthropists– to work towards strategic, social transformation in cities and countries.

Sylvia is a persuasive communicator and connector and has a vast Asia and global network: Sylvia has 8+ years of working and networking in Beijing and throughout China and the Asia Pacific region. She’s been based in China and Hong Kong since 2004.

You see things and ask “Why?” But I dream things that never were, and I say, “Why not?”
-George Bernard Shaw




Sylvia is a supporter of The Mekong Club, a leading catalyst for change, inspiring and guiding the private sector to lead in the fight against modern slavery.  Led by her husband Matt Friedman, a prominent international human trafficking expert. See Matt’s TED talk here. (You can book Matt as a speaker for your conference).


From my blog back in 2010:  Besides writing and producing media to raise awareness, one of my passions is to bring through my consulting work various stakeholders together — such as NGOs, government, academics, volunteers, business and philanthropists — to work towards a strategic plan or social change level goals for transformation of a region or country.

I’ve fallen madly in love with southwest China which borders Myanmar. Some of my previous consulting projects that impact SW China and other parts of the country include:

*health and care project for elderly sex slave survivors (known as ‘comfort women’) in China

*freeing sex slaves (trafficked women, prostitutes) – jewelry making business is expanding to other regions

*helping drug addicts with HIV – hope to see one great model in Kunming replicated in other parts of the country

*empowering orphans and blind people so they can live with hope and dignity (I’ve helped direct funds to these projects)

Hanging out in a village in Mynamar.
Hanging out in a village in Myanmar.

In my spare time while living in Beijing, I helped support an organization that mobilized young people from the West to impact humanitarian work and the business sector in China. In the near future, this mobilization will begin to expand to other nations in the developing world.

Some of my earthly heroes and role models: Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and my parents, especially my beautiful mother who models love and authentic faith every day. She has for more than 30 years given home-made meals, financial support and a listening ear to the sick, the poor and those in distress. My mom and dad have helped many low-income families in their community.

Site Visit Story (my trip on behalf of a philanthropist):

Meeting and interviewing 19-year-old

In Myanmar by the China border: Interviewing 19-year-old “Ma” (center) who is HIV positive and sleeps on a tattered mattress in the forest every night. Bangyuan (left) works for an NGO that helps Ma and provides social services for hundreds of drug addicts, commercial sex workers and other high-risk groups in the “Golden Triangle” region. Ma left a lasting impression on me and I think of him often and wonder how he is doing. About a year ago, Bangyuan told me that Ma had died in the sugarcane fields. I was shocked. I checked again with the NGO staff and they clarified that another young man had died, and not Ma. I was very relieved.

(Ma passed away shortly after)


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