Anastasia Lin ( 林耶凡) born January 1, 1990, is a Chinese-Canadian actress, model, beauty pageant titleholder, and human rights advocate. Lin won the Miss World Canada title in 2015 and was to represent Canada at Miss World 2015 pageant to be held in China but was refused a visa due to her political advocacy.
She is a graduate of University of Toronto (with Bachelor of Arts in theater and minor in history and political science). She has built a career acting in films that deal with human rights issues in her native China.
Early life and education
Lin was born in Hunan, China and moved to Canada at age 13 with her mother. Her father is a businessman based in China, and her mother was a former university professor. Lin went to high school in Vancouver before moving to Toronto.
Since beginning acting at the age of 7, Lin has appeared in over 20 films and television productions, and most prominently played lead actress in several Toronto-based films about human rights themes in China.
Lin’s first film saw her perform as a student killed in a poorly-built school that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011 she played an unrequited lover in “Beyond Destiny”. The latter won the Golden Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival and the Award of Merit at the Indie Fest in California.
In 2014 she played a news reporter from China Central Television in the satirical series “Big Shorts“. The same year she starred in “Red Lotus”, a Swedish production that is based on the persecution of Falun Gong. Her latest film The Bleeding Edge from the creators of the Peabody Award-winning film Human Harvest, is a thriller based on real-life events where she plays a Falun Gong practitioner, the film is set to be released in 2016.
The bleeding edge trailer
Lin has participated in beauty pageants for a number of years, winning the Miss World Canada title in Vancouver, 2015. In 2013 in the same competition she received second runner up. She declined to participate in the swimsuit portion of the event.
Lin was barred from entering China on Thursday November 26, 2015 to take part in this year’s pageant in the southern island province of Hainan. According to her, she was prevented from boarding her connecting flight in Hong Kong, and was given no reason from authorities.
Along with her acting and participation in pageants, Lin is known for her public position against human rights abuses in China, particularly against practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline. In 2012, she was one of eleven stakeholders selected to meet Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird upon the establishment of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Previously, Lin was one of ten Youth Leaders who met Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Dechert to consult on the same issue. Canadian television reports attributed her victory in the 2015 Miss World Pageant in part to her passion for human rights.
Due to her activism, Chinese state security agents visited and threatened her father in China, attempting to have him sever all contact with her. “Shortly after my victory, my father started receiving threats from Chinese security agents complaining about my human rights advocacy”, Lin wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, “No doubt fearing for his livelihood and business, my father asked me to stop advocating for human rights. He told me that if I did not stop, we would have to go our separate ways”.
In July 2015 Lin was invited to testify before U.S. Congress, addressing the topic of Religion With “Chinese Characteristics”: Persecution and Control in Xi Jinping‘s China. Speaking before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Lin said that the intimidation and threats her father received are common. “Good people like my father, a law abiding and contributing citizen, an honest businessman now too afraid to talk to his daughter, who once supported her in everything she did… now must leave her to face the world alone… Mr. Chairman, I hope you understand this is a common experience for so many American and Canadian citizens. Those Chinese who dare to speak their minds do so knowing that those still within the regime’s reach in China could pay the price for it.”
In subsequent interviews with media, Lin has spoken out on behalf of Falun Gong and other persecuted groups in China. And since being crowned Miss World Canada, she stopped receiving invitations to attend Chinese events held by community leaders with ties to the Chinese consulate in Toronto.
On 20 November 2015, BBC reported that after having not received the invitation letter from Chinese government that is required for her visa request in view of her participation in the Miss World competition in December. Lin has concluded that she has been denied the right to compete because of her outspokenness on Chinese human rights abuses.
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