She has starred in numerous films and several television series, most memorably in Wong Kar-wai's internationally acclaimed 1994 feature, Chungking Express, which earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 14th Hong Kong Film Awards. A former Miss Hong Kong runner-up (1991), she is also the first Chinese model to be signed by US cosmetics company Revlon in 1998.
Since 2003, she has worked primarily as a fashion publicist and in 2010, opened Mama Kid, a children's designer concept store in Hong Kong.
Chow was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the only child to an upper middle-class family. Her father was a property developer whom she describes as "tough, direct, and self-disciplined." Chow had spent some of her teens during the mid-80s in Hong Kong where she attended Maryknoll Convent School and completed Form-5. She described these years as having been "difficult" and "stressful," and had initially returned to Vancouver before moving to Hong Kong a second time in the summer of 1991. It was then that she joined the 1991 Miss Hong Kong Pageant, in which she placed first runner-up, and which would become her introduction into the entertainment industry. Following a brief study break where she studied Law at the University of Hong Kong, Chow began her career in 1993 as a television presenter for the lifestyle programme, Eye on Hong Kong on TVB Pearl. Her first film credit was a cameo in Peter Chan's He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father, released in December 1993.
As a newcomer, she drew some controversy for her role in the Category-III box office hit Twenty Something, which dealt with sexually explicit themes considered shocking for a former beauty queen. Her following role in Wong Kar-Wai's widely acclaimed Chungking Express also made an impression, which garnered her a Hong Kong Film Award nomination. Her career however, took a sharp turn when she played the much maligned role of a "homewrecker" in a hugely popular television series. The image of seductress came to be closely associated with Chow, perhaps further fuelled by earlier rumours of her alleged affair with Tony Leung Chiu Wai (then already dating long-time partner Carina Lau), whose music videos and album cover she also featured in. In the subsequent period between 1995–97, she was cast in a string of B-movies, usually in the role of a villain. The more notable of these were that of the female terrorist in Jing Wong's High Risk, a moderately successful box-office hit, and a guest appearance in Tsui Hark's acclaimed wu-xia feature The Blade.
In late 1996, she left the Hong Kong film industry to pursue a career in Hollywood, adopting a more racially ambiguous screen name, Rachel Shane. She was signed to the William Morris Agency and had a small part in the film Phantoms which starred Peter O'Toole and Ben Affleck. More substantially, she became the first Chinese spokesmodel for Revlon US in 1998, appearing in national print and tv ad campaigns alongside Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, and Melanie Griffith. She is to be followed by Lucy Liu.
Chow eventually returned to Hong Kong in 2000, where she joined the media communications department at Lane Crawford, although continued to act part-time. The following year saw her return to the small screen in the ATV series, Healing Hearts, in which she played the role of a lawyer. The role briefly revived her career, leading to several magazine covers and an ad campaign with Neutrogena Hong Kong. She also starred alongside Leslie Cheung in Inner Senses (2002), which was to be Cheung's last film.
Since 2003, Chow has, for the most part, left the entertainment industry. For the next seven years, she would continue to work as publicist for the Pedder Group, the shoes and accessories division of Lane Crawford. Looking back on her career in 2010, Chow remarks:
"I worked for the group for 10 years. I rounded off this experience as vice-president, marketing. I met larger-than-life individuals who left an impression. Highlights included working with [American filmmaker] David Lynch and [footwear designer] Christian Louboutin at Cafe de Flore, in Paris, and producing the first Guy Bourdin exhibition in Hong Kong. I am also proud of the fact that I'm well known in the fashion industry for producing some of the best store window displays in Central. I think more people have seen or admired my window displays than have watched my films."
Chow's most recent acting credit was a TV series filmed in mid-2004, but never aired until December 2010, more than six years after filming completed. In September 2010, Chow opened Mama Kid, a children's clothing boutique in Hong Kong's Central District to great success, which has since relocated to Stanley.
Chow married Darryl Goveas, a Hong Kong-based Belgian-Indian interior designer in 2005, with whom she has a daughter.He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father (新難兄難弟) (1993)
Twentysomething (晚九朝五) (1994)
Chungking Express (重慶森林) (1994)
Lover of the Last Empress (慈禧秘密生活) (1995)
Dream Killer (野性的邂逅) (1995)
The Case of the Cold Fish (月黑風高) (1995)
Ghostly Bus (鬼巴士) (1995)
Spider Woman (蜘蛛女) (1995)
Wind Beneath My Wings (空中小姐) (1995)
High Risk (鼠膽龍威) (1995)
The Armed Policewoman (95陀槍女警) (1995)
Red Zone (爆炸令) (1995)
The Blade (刀) (1995)
Street Angels (紅燈區) (1996)
Hero (馬永貞) (1997)
Bridge of Dragons (1999)
Sausalito (一見鍾情) (2000)
Healing Hearts (俠骨仁心) (2000)
The Vampire Combat (極速殭屍) (2001)
Inner Senses (異度空間) (2002)
Freaky Story (不寒而慄) (2002)
Fate of the Clairvoyant (再見亦是老婆 alt. 都市有情人) (1994)
John Woo's Once A Thief (appears in one episode) (1997)
Healing Hearts (俠骨仁心) (2001)
Shanghai Legend (上海灘之俠醫傳奇) (2004, aired 2010)