Zhao Wei at the 2007 Huabiao Awards
|Chinese name||趙薇 (Traditional)|
|Chinese name||赵薇 (Simplified)|
|Pinyin||Zhào Wēi (Mandarin)|
|Jyutping||Ziu6 Mei4 (Cantonese)|
12 March 1976 |
Wuhu, Anhui, China
|Other name(s)||Vicki Zhao|
|Parents||Zhao Jiahai (father)
Wei Qiying (mother)
Zhao Wei (born 12 March 1976), also known as Vicki Zhao (or Vicky Zhao), is a Chinese actress, director and pop singer. She has been awarded the Hundred Flowers Award, Shanghai Film Critics Award, Huabiao Award, Golden Eagle TV Award, as well as the Best Actress award at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Zhao developed an interest in acting after she was first chosen to be a supporting actress in a filming session. While studying at Beijing Film Academy, she participated in various film projects. She rose to fame after portraying Xiaoyanzi ("Little Swallow") in the first two seasons of the television series Princess Pearl. In 1999, after Princess Pearl was broadcast, Zhao also began her singing career with her first album, Swallow. She is considered one of the "Four Dan actresses" in China (四大花旦), along with Xu Jinglei, Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun.
Following the success of Princess Pearl, Zhao started acting in many major film productions, including Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer (2001), So Close (2002), Warriors of Heaven and Earth (2004), and John Woo's historical epic Red Cliff (2008-2009). For her achievements in film, television, and music, the Japanese media dubbed her "China's No.1 actress" in 2007. The United Kingdom's The Independent also described her as "China's box office darling" in 2009.
Early life 
Born and raised in Wuhu, Anhui, Zhao is the youngest of two children. Her parents are Zhao Jiahai (Chinese: 赵家海; pinyin: Zhào Jiāhǎi), an appliance designer, and Wei Qiying (Chinese: 魏启颖; pinyin: Wèi Qǐyǐng), a schoolteacher, and her brother is Zhao Jian (Chinese: 赵坚; pinyin: Zhào Jiān; born 1971). She graduated from Teachers' College Elementary School and Teachers' College High School. Zhao learnt dancing for three years and practised the piano for six years. In 1994, her performance in Tibetan dancing was shown as part of a local television spring festival celebration.
Zhao has claimed that she never planned to become famous, later explaining, "I thought actresses had to be beautiful, and I thought I was ordinary." When she was 17 years old, a filming crew arrived in Wuhu, looking for extras for the film Hua Hun, starring Gong Li. After participating in the filming as an extra, Zhao decided she wanted to act, and left her hometown. She eventually enrolled in a new film arts school in Shanghai, founded by film director Xie Jin. At the age of 20, Zhao received first class results in her entrance exam to Beijing Film Academy's Performance Institute, graduating in 2000.
Zhao had her first experience in front of the camera in 1990, and she was chosen to act as a support actor in Hua Hun, a film starring Gong Li. In 1995, after her high school exams, Zhao quit her job as a kindergarten teacher. The same year, she was chosen by Xie Jin, the founder of Xie Jin's Star Academy, to star in one of his movies, Penitentiary Angel. This was her first substantial acting role. Zhao did not find her own performance fulfilling, but considered it to be a valuable experience. "I was too young to understand the role," she said, "but if you've been cast in a film by a famous director, no matter how well you did, other less-famous directors will also want to cast you." She obtained the highest score in the entrance examination when she was matriculated into the acting institute of the Beijing Film Academy (BFA) in 1996. As one of the most outstanding students in the BFA, Zhao scored five yous (A) and nine youliangs (A-) out of the 14 courses. Her graduation thesis scored 90.
After playing minor roles in various films and television series, Zhao received her first leading role in a series called Sisters in Beijing. She was spotted by Taiwanese novelist Chiung Yao, who was looking for actors. Chiung Yao noted that Zhao was a little chubby but talented. By 1997, however, Zhao had lost some weight and was offered one of the leading roles in the television series Princess Pearl, which was adapted from Chiung Yao's novels. Filming the series was an arduous task for Zhao and her co-stars; Zhao herself acknowledged the intensity of filming:
We shot 18 to 20 hours a day. There were two groups of actors. One shot during the day, one at night. Frequently I'd have to do both. A few times I worked so hard that I actually threw up from the exertion. But I was young then. I didn't get tired easily. And I never complained about the working conditions. I thought that's just how it was supposed to be. Now I know that's wrong. But at the time I had no clue. Whatever they'd give me, I'd do. And as soon as I was done working I could just fall asleep. They'd say, 'Go to sleep,' and I'd go right to sleep.—
The hard work of the cast yielded unexpected results. After Princess Pearl was broadcast, it enjoyed the highest ratings in China and Zhao quickly rose to prominence. In 1999, she became the youngest actress to win the Golden Eagle Awards for "Best Actress." Zhao was named one of Taiwan's "Top Ten Most Outstanding Individuals in Television Industry." After this, she continued to star in a number of successful television series and movies and released a number of commercially successful albums.
In 2000, Zhao starred in a romantic comedy television series Treasure Venture, alongside Taiwanese actor-singer Nicky Wu. However, Zhao soon felt that she had achieved all she could in television,[inconsistent] so she went on to star in a few movies in Hong Kong. In 2001, she guest-starred in the 2001 comedy film Shaolin Soccer alongside Hong Kong actor and director Stephen Chow. Zhao played an unattractive steamed bun maker, which greatly differed from the glamourous image she had established for herself in previous roles.
In 2001, Zhao filmed another series written by Chiung Yao, titled Romance in the Rain. Zhao also participated in a romantic comedy called Chinese Odyssey 2002 as "Princess Phoenix." Zhao was nominated for "Best Supporting Actress" at the 39th Golden Horse Awards. In 2002, Zhao worked with Shu Qi and Karen Mok in So Close. Although Zhao quit Chiung Yao's agency, the Taiwanese writer still said her favourite actresses are Brigitte Lin, Leanne Lau and Zhao, who successfully portrayed the classic characters of her novel adaption.
After filming Romance in the Rain, Zhao began to focus on acting in movies. In 2003, Zhao starred in four films: My Dream Girl, Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Green Tea, and Jade Goddess of Mercy. Each film was critically acclaimed and presented Zhao in a different light.
After much speculation over who would receive the female lead in Ann Hui's film, Jade Goddess of Mercy, the lead role of An Xin was finally offered to Zhao, and her performance was well received by critics. In 2004, the 10th Movie Academic Society presented her the "Golden Phoenix Award" for her role.
In 2004, Zhao was cast to dub the character Princess Fiona when Shrek 2 was released in China. She won the "Favourite Actress" award (the equivalent of a Best Actress award) at the 11th Beijing Student Film Festival for her performance in Warriors of Heaven and Earth, and was nominated for the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress, even though she only had 25 lines of dialogue in the entire movie.
2005 proved to be a successful year for Zhao after she won the Best Actress award at the Shanghai International Film Festival and tied with Zhang Ziyi for the Huabiao Award. Both were for her performance in A Time to Love. Zhao once again won "Best Actress" for her performance in A Time To Love at The 8th Changchun China Film Festival in 2006.
Finally, after a four-year break from television series, Zhao starred as Yao Mulan in a remake of Lin Yutang's Moment in Peking. 80% of audiences preferred Zhao's portrayal of Yao Mulan over the previous actress's performance. She was ranked No. 4 on Forbes' 2006 China Celebrity 100 list. In June 2006, Zhao was selected by voters as the "Most Popular Mainland Actress" at the 2nd Top Chinese TV Drama Awards. Zhao selected as the "Most Beautiful Woman" in China (national voting by Sina.com & Sohu.com's users).
In 2006, Zhao was listed in People Magazine's '100 Most Beautiful People' in 2006. following her performance in Moment in Peking, Zhao starred in two more films. The first of these films, The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, premiered at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Her guest starring role in the film resulted in Zhao's second Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Golden Horse Awards and her first nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Zhao then portrayed a taxicab driver in the 2007 film The Longest Night in Shanghai, starring alongside Japanese actor Masahiro Motoki and Taiwanese actor Dylan Kuo (郭品超).
In 2006, Zhao took an exam for a Masters' class in directing at her alma mater, the Beijing Film Academy (BFA). After passing with flying colours, Zhao returned to the BFA in September 2006 as a graduate student in the Directing Department. Currently, she is studying under the instruction of director Tian Zhuangzhuang.
Zhao received a salary of 100,000 yuan per episode for acting in the 2007 television series Thank You for Having Loved Me. In 2007, it was also announced that Zhao had been cast as Sun Shangxiang in John Woo's historical epic, Red Cliff.
In 2008, Zhao played the role of Pei Rong in Gordon Chan's film Painted Skin, for which she received nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Golden Rooster Awards and Asian Film Awards. On 6 August 2009, Zhao was elected as the vice-president of China Film Performance Art Academy and an executive member of the council of the China Environmental Society.
In early 2009, she was cast to play the main role of Hua Mulan in Jingle Ma's Mulan. Zhao gained her fourth Hong Kong Film Awards nomination for her performance in Mulan. She also starred in 14 Blades along with Donnie Yen, which was released in 2010. Zhao won her third Favourite Actress award at the Beijing Student Film Festival.
2010 – present 
On 27 May 2010, the Shanghai International Film Festival announced that Zhao will make her comeback as a judge on the panel, alongside John Woo, Leos Carax and other acclaimed actors. On 12 June 2010, Zhao attracted immense media attention and cheers from her fans throughout the day at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and she stated that she was pleased to see such a good turnout from the press. She was crowned Best Actress at the Shanghai Film Critics Awards, Hundred Flowers Awards and Changchun Film Festival for Mulan.
On 19 July 2011, the 20th Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival announced the Retrospective honoured actress, Zhao. The Retorspective will present Zhao's films for screen. On 6 August, Zhao recruited as vice-president of China Television Actors Guild. In 2011, Zhao played a single mom in film LOVE, directed by Doze Niu. The film's box office broke the Valentine's Day records in mainland China and Taiwan.
On 15 June 2012, Zhao graduated from the directing institute of Beijing Film Academy, whose MFA dissertation defense score 99/100, ranking 1 of all the graduates. On April 26, 2013 Zhao released her first feature film So Young.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection was selected as the opening film of the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival. Painted Skin: The Resurrection scored the highest grossing opening for a local film and the third highest opening, beating the earlier records held by Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Titanic 3D.
So Young, Zhao Wei's directorial debut, opened to 141 million yuan in its first weekend. She is the first female director, whose debut broke 100 million yuan in China. In just one week, "So Young" have garnered 350 million yuan and still counting.
Rumours and controversy 
As a result of her fame, Zhao has been a regular subject of tabloids. On 3 December 2001, a woman named Zou Xue published a picture of Zhao wearing a dress with a Japanese military flag, which labeled Heatherette NYC designed by Richie Rich, on the cover of Fashion Magazine. The public saw it as a sign of disrespect toward government policy and offensive to the Chinese public, who are still sensitive over the Second Sino-Japanese War. Public outcry following the incident caused Zhao's relations with mainland Chinese audiences to become strained. On 9 December, the newspaper Beijing Evening News and network Sina.com published Zhao's apology letter to the nation, and on 17 December, Zhao again apologised on the television show Entertainment Live, which was broadcast on 200 television networks and 100 radio stations in China.
However, on 28 December 2001, at a concert, she was tackled by Fu Shenghua, a construction worker who said his grandparents were killed during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Reflecting upon his actions, Fu told a Chinese magazine: "I know what I did wasn't right. But I believe my cause was just... As a famous Chinese person, she should have been aware of such an important event in Chinese history." Later, a Chinese newspaper, Beijing Youth Daily, published a special report after a two-month investigation and alleged that Fu had lied to the media, claiming that no one in his family had died during the war and that he was not a construction worker but instead had been unemployed for several years. The reporting journalist noted that it was difficult to have conversations with Fu due to his alleged extremist views. After this report was published, the hype surrounding the incident died down and the Chinese media seldom mentioned it again.
In 2004, Zhao was embroiled in further controversy when the same Zou Xue accused Zhao of beating her while Zou was pregnant. Zhao and Zou had been business partners, together establishing the bar Z1 in Beijing. Zou claimed that Zhao had instructed her chauffeur to hit Zou after a business dispute between the two in July. At the time, Zou was eight months pregnant. In response, Zou filed a lawsuit demanding compensation in the amount of 2,246.6 yuan (US$272), as well as a public apology. Zhao denied hitting Zou.
After filing the lawsuit against Zhao, Zou welcomed attention from journalists, while Zhao ignored them. Zou further claimed that Zhao often used drugs with her friends at their bar, Z1. She told the press that Zhao was often vulgar and abusive toward her staff. In response, Zhao's brother, Zhao Jian, argued that Zou published the picture of his sister in the "Military Flag" dress as a direct attack against her.
During 2003–2004, a few of Zhao's movies, such as Green Tea, Jade Goddess of Mercy, and A Time to Love, failed to receive high box office earnings. Because of this, the media dubbed Zhao as the "bane of the box office", or "box office poison." When reporters confronted Zhao about this, she expressed discomfort and frustration. She commented:
I don't mind people saying I'm not good. I know my own weaknesses and limits, but I've always tried my best in what I do. To label me as the 'bane of the box office' just because the earnings of a couple of movies are not ideal is not fair. Besides, a movie's success does not depend on a single person. Hence, such talk is very biased and subjective. Anyway, this is not the first time, so I feel there's no need to respond to such baseless remarks.—
Other work 
Alongside her acting career, Zhao has become actively involved in commercial work. In 2001, she was selected as one of China's Top Ten Most Popular Commercial Models, the culmination of her work for Red Earth and Amoisonic Mobile Phone. The same year, Zhao was ranked second on "China's Top 10 Artists for Advertisements" list. South Korean television network KBS ranked Zhao number one in China and Japan and number two in South Korea, crowning her "Commercial Queen in 3 countries."
On several occasions, Zhao has also been praised by the media for her sense of style. At the Lycra Channel Young Awards (now known as the China Fashion Awards), Zhao was chosen as the "Most Stylish Actress" in mainland China. The same year, MTV China also selected Zhao as the "Most Stylish Asian Actress." Zhao also garnered another fashion award at the 2004 Pierre Cardin Awards. Zhao was awarded the "Most Stylish Female Artist" and "Most Stylish Actor" at the China Fashion Award (CFA) in 2005. In 2007, Zhao won her the third "Most Stylish Actor" in China Fashion Awards. The same year, she won Most Stylish Female Artist at the MTV China Style Gala.
Until 18 April 2011, Zhao is climbing up the ranks of the most followed microbloggers worldwide. Her fan count has exceeded six million, bringing her ever closer to American celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, Ashton Kutcher and Katy Perry, all of whom also recently surpassed the six million fan mark.
Personal life 
Zhao is a practising Buddhist and vegetarian. China Daily reported that Zhao is one of few celebrities who has great handwriting in Chinese. The Chinese website Sohu.com, in its Women Section, reported that Zhao is one who loves and believes in sustaining beauty from within the body system. This article in Sohu.com also captures Zhao's experiences in living a healthy lifestyle despite her busy schedules.
In 2004, Zhao ended her relationship with Wang Yu. When Wang began dating actress Huang Yi in 2005, it became a popular subject in the media, because Huang was selected to replace Zhao in her famed role as "Xiaoyanzi" in Princess Pearl 3 after Zhao rejected the offer. The media often depicted a feud between the two actresses. Zhao herself has not expressed any regret regarding her relationship with Wang Yu. "After becoming an actor, I've gained a lot, but I also lost many things. I got a job that I like; I had many opportunities, and I also received many kinds of love."
On occasion, Zhao has discussed her love life with reporters. "I'm not anxious. I have several friends who are over thirty years old, and they are also unmarried. So there's really no hurry. Right now, my career comes first..." Zhao stressed that she will not give up her acting career even after she gets married, as acting is her passion. "If I stop acting, I will not have anything to focus on. Life will be so empty, and I definitely can't endure such emptiness. So, my would-be husband must understand me on this issue."
Pop divas Faye Wong and Na Ying are some of Zhao's best friends and the Chinese media dubbed them together as the "Queen Club (天后团)." After a party at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Song Hye-kyo and Zhao also became friends.
Charity work 
Zhao has been actively involved in various causes. In 2002, she donated 100,000 yuan to China Youth Foundation's "Hope Project." In 2004, she set up a scholarship fund in Wuhu, her hometown. In 2005 she was appointed as a spokesperson and ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund and China Youth Concern Committee's "Awareness for Children Affected by AIDS" campaign; she also wrote the song "来得及的明天" (pinyin: lái dé jí dè míng tiān; literally "Still Time for Tomorrow") as the theme song for the campaign. In 2006, Zhao, along with her former classmate Chen Kun, was chosen to represent YALU, a fashion company. YALU had set up a fund of five million yuan to help the construction of new villages in China. Zhao attended a charity banquet in December 2006. The banquet, held in Beijing, raised money for the Smile Angel Foundation, an organisation established by Zhao's friend Faye Wong.
The morning following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Zhao donated 100,000 yuan to the China Red Cross. Soon afterward, she donated 500,000 yuan to the China Children and Teenagers' Fund to construct a Spring Bude Building School.
On 29 March 2010, Zhao donated 200,000 RMB to the Yunnan government, as Yunnan was suffering from the worst drought during the past few decades. On 17 April, the third day after Qinghai Yushu Earthquake, Zhao donated 200,000 yuan to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation.
Zhao received the China Charity Billboard Award for her contributions to charity.
- 1999: Little Swallow (小燕子)
- 1999: Magic of Love (爱情大魔咒)
- 2001: The Last Separation (最后一次分手)
- 2004: Afloat (飄)
- 2005: Double (双)
- 2007: Angel's Suitcase (天使旅行箱)
- 2009: We're All Great Directors (我们都是大导演)
- 2001 World University Games
- 2002 China Youth Development Foundation "Hope Project"
- 2002 All-China Eviroment Federation
- 2004 China Farmers Games
- 2005 UN's "Orphan and Vulnerable Children, Children Affected by AIDS Awareness."
- 2007 World Special Olympic Games
- 2007 China Foundation of Disabled Person "Lighting Acitivies"
- 2008 China Red Cross "Heart Project"
- 2009 China Flowers Expo
- 2010 Changchun Film Festival
- 2011 Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival
- 2012 爱
- 2012 画皮
Awards & nominations 
In 1999, Zhao won a Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress for her breakthrough role "Xiaoyanzi" ("Little Swallow") in Princess Pearl (1999). She was the youngest actress to win an award in this category. Zhao won a Shanghai International Film Festival Golden Globet Award for Best Actress, a Huabiao Film Award for Outstanding Actress, a Changchun Film Festival Golden Deer Award for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed performance in A Time to Love (2005). Chinese critics considered her portrayal of the titular character in Mulan one of her best performances. Zhao also won a Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress, a Changchun Film Festival Golden Deer Award for Best Actress, a Shanghai Film Critics Award for Best Actress (for 14 Blades).
Zhao also has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress for Mulan (2009), and three Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Supporting Actress for The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006), Red Cliff (2008 / 2009), two Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actress for Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002) and The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006). In addition, Zhao was nominated for an Asian Film Award for Best Actress and Golden Rooster Award for Best Actress for Painted Skin (2008).
As a pop singer, she won MTV Asia Award for Favourite Artist – Mainland China, and dozens of Chinese music awards for Favourite Female Artist. Angel's Suitcase (2007) highlighted Zhao's music career, won Top Chinese Music Chart Award for Best Female Vocal Performance and Music Radio Top Chart Award for Best Album.
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- 世界大學生運動會聘請文化使者. 人民日报. 11 July 2001.
- 赵薇出任希望书库形象大使 感到自己在进步. 北京青年报. 19 November 2002.
- 赵薇巴特尔等七人担任中华环保基金会"绿色使者". 新华网. 28 November 2002.
- 第五届农运会邀请赵薇出任形象大使. 大洋网. 30 November 2003.
- “受艾滋病影响儿童”宣传活动启动 赵薇代言. 新京报. 23 June 2005.
- 姚明赵薇莫文蔚携手助特奥 全球形象大使添新员. 东方网. 15 October 2006.
- 爱心永恒启明行动启动. 京华时报. 20 May 2007.
- 赵薇秘密赴北川送棉衣 因具亲和力成爱心大使. 金羊网. 1 November 2008.
- 赵薇获聘“中国花博会”形象大使 化身花仙子芬芳绽放. 北京市顺义区人民政府官网网站. 15 March 2009.
- 与长春电影节再续前缘赵薇出任形象大使. 长春日报. 16 August 2010.
- 赵薇空降第20届金鸡百花电影节合肥新闻发布会. 万家热线 8 June 2011
84.Chinese Actress Zhao Wei Admitted into Jurade de Saint-Émilion Womenofchina.cn September 18, 2012