Sylvia Chang was born in Chiayi, Taiwan and went off to school, until she was 16, where upon she dropped out and started her career as a radio DJ. When she was 18 years old she acted in her first film.
Chang acted in her first film, The Tattooed Dragon (Wei Lo, 1973), when she was 18 years old. In her most recent film, 20 30 40, she played the 40-year-old woman protagonist, wrote and directed it. Chang often attempted to do her own stunts in the four-part TV series Aces Go Places.
She stated in an interview with film editor Clarence Tsui, "I still think Hong Kong's film industry is male-dominated". She also believes that "There aren't many male filmmakers who would write scripts for women". She helped write the script of Run Papa Run, based on the novel by Benny Li Shuan Yan, that follows a man who belongs to the Triad and the relationship he has with his mother, wife, and daughter. Chang said in an interview that, "I thought why don't I explore the gentler side of men".
Chang first began performing in theatre productions more than 30 years ago. She returned to the stage in the production of Design For Living that premiered in November 2008 and went on into 2009. Chang stated in an interview that, "The reason for me to take on stage play again after 20 years is because I was lured by the director, he has invited handsome guys like Zheng Yuan Chang and David Huang into the play". Critics have remarked upon the versatility in her roles along with her willingness to always try for something new.
Chang is also a singer and her music has become popular in karaoke, where her song "The Cost of Love" is commonly sung.
In the 1980s, Chang's second film to direct, Passion, which she wrote and also starred in, won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress. She has stated, "I had never went to any school as a director or a filmmaker, so all my film education actually was from the set".
For a time, Chang was the head producer of New Cinema City in Taiwan, but left a few years after joining.
Chang once said of her films that, "I've always felt that animation or special effects shouldn't just be limited to science-fiction films and their ilk. Dramas can also play around with them". One critic wrote of her, that "In an industry that kisses young actresses with celebrity, then swallows them and spits them out, Chang has a sequoia's longevity. She is the only Hong Kong actress of her generation—the early '70s—to keep starring in movies".
Chang's films have even been accepted into the London and Toronto International film Festivals. She has served on the jury for the Berlin Film Festival. She also holds the record for the most nominations for Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress, with nine nominations and 2 wins.
Chang is an advocate and a "life-long volunteer" for World Vision International, the humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. She created an advertisement, sponsored by World Vision, to promote the company, World Vision Advertisement on YouTube. She is a member and advocate for the World Vision-sponsored "30 Hour Famine.".
Sylvia Chang is married to businessman Billy Wang Ching-hung and they have one son.
In July 2000, Sylvia Chang's nine-year-old son Oscar was kidnapped and held for a ransom of HK $15 million. The police found him after a few days, safe, and arrested the kidnappers. Chang stated, "With your life, you have to move on, there's no other choice; so, out of no choice, then, it's a matter of your attitude".Kolin Records (歌林)
1973 Never Say Goodbye 別說再見
1974 Tearfully Say to You 含淚向你說
1977 Farewell (惜別)
1980 Maybe / We Were Young (也许 / 我們曾經年輕)
1981 Childhood (童年)
1985 Busy and Blind (忙與盲)
1986 Do You Love Me? (你愛我嗎)
1987 Xi shuo (細說), lit. "clarify" or "elaborate"
1992 The Price of Love (愛的代價)