Liu Yifei

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Liu Yifei
Liu looks right, holding a glass
Liu in 2016
Born
An Feng

(1987-08-25) August 25, 1987 (age 33)
Wuhan, Hubei, China
NationalityAmerican
Alma materBeijing Film Academy
Occupation
  • Actress
  • singer
  • model
Years active2002–present
Musical career
OriginJapan[1]
Genres
InstrumentsSinging
LabelsSony Japan
Liu Yifei
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Liu Ximeizi
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
An Feng
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese

Liu Yifei (Chinese: 刘亦菲; pinyin: Liú Yìfēi, born An Feng; August 25, 1987), also known as Crystal Liu, is a Chinese-born American[a] actress, singer and model. Active in China, where she is widely known as "Fairy Sister",[4][5] Liu was named as one of the New Four Dan actresses of China in 2009.[6] She has since played Mulan in The Walt Disney Company's 2020 live-action film Mulan.[7]

Early life[edit]

Liu was born in Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei as An Feng (安风).[8] She is an only child. Her father is An Shaokang (安少康), a 1st Secretary in the Chinese Embassy in France and a French language university professor,[4] and her mother is Liu Xiaoli (刘晓莉), a dancer and stage performer. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old and she was raised solely by her mother. That same year, she adopted her mother's family name and changed her name to "Liu Ximeizi" (刘茜美子)[9][10] and began modelling, along with training in singing, dancing and playing the piano.[11] Her godfather is Chen Jinfei (陈金飞), the Chairman of Beijing Tongchan Investment Group.[12][13]

In 1997, when Liu was 10 years old, she and her mother immigrated to the United States. She lived in Queens, New York City where she attended Louis Pasteur Middle School 67.[14] In 2002, she returned to China to pursue an acting career and changed her name to "Liu Yifei" (刘亦菲).[15] Several weeks after returning to China, Liu was accepted into the Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy at age 15 [4] and graduated in 2006.

Career[edit]

2003–2006; Rising popularity[edit]

Immediately after her admittance into the Beijing Film Academy, Liu received offers to star in various television series. Her first television appearance was in the period romance drama The Story of a Noble Family (2003), based on Zhang Henshui's novel of the same name.[16] The series achieved the highest ratings on CCTV, and positive reviews from audience.[17][18] The same year, she was chosen by Zhang Jizhong to play Wang Yuyan in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, an adaptation of Louis Cha's wuxia novel of the same title.[19] The series was broadcast in Taiwan and achieved a rating of 5.69, becoming the highest-rated Chinese drama in Taiwan.[20] Liu's role as the beautiful Wang Yuyan earned her the nickname of "Fairy Sister" by the media and fans.[5]

In 2005, Liu starred in Chinese Paladin, a fantasy action drama adapted from the role-playing game The Legend of Sword and Fairy. The drama earned a cult following,[21] and solidified her popularity in China.[22]

In 2006, Liu was chosen to portray Xiaolongnü in The Return of the Condor Heroes, based on Louis Cha's wuxia novel of the same title.[23] Liu's casting was backed by Cha himself, who felt that she had all the necessary qualities to portray the young and innocent female protagonist.[24] After the drama aired, Liu gained acclaim for her performance and swiftly experienced a surge in popularity.[25] The same year, she was chosen as the "Golden Eagle Goddess" at the 6th China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival.[26]

2008–2013; Transition to films[edit]

After achieving success in television, Liu then ventured onto the big screen. In 2007, she joined William Morris Agency (WMA) and was subsequently cast in her first Hollywood production, The Forbidden Kingdom.[23] She played Golden Sparrow, an orphan seeking revenge against her parents' killer.[27] Thereafter, she starred in romantic-comedy Love in Disguise (2010) opposite Taiwanese singer-actor Wang Leehom.[28]

In 2011, she starred in fantasy supernatural film A Chinese Ghost Story, adapted from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio; The same year, she was cast as Wu Qing (Emotionless) in Gordon Chan's wuxia film The Four, adapted from Woon Swee Oan's novel series The Four Great Constables. She subsequently reprised her role in two other installments of the film series.[29][30]

Liu won her first major acting award in her 11-year career, the Best Actress award at the 5th Macau International Movie Festival,[31] for her role as Lingju and Diaochan in the historical film The Assassins (2012).[32]

2014–present; International collaborations and television comeback[edit]

In 2014, Liu collaborated with Korean actor-singer Rain for the romance film For Love or Money, based on Hong Kong novelist Amy Cheung's 2006 novel of the same name. Though it did reasonably well at the box office, the film was criticized for its storyline and production.[33] She then starred in the American-Chinese action film Outcast (2014) directed by Nick Powell, alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.[34]

Liu starred in another Chinese-South Korean co-production, The Third Way of Love (2015), a romance melodrama co-starring Song Seung-heon.[35] Her performance in the film led to her win for the Most Anticipated Actress award at the 16th Chinese Film Media Awards.[36] The same year, she was named the first Chinese ambassador of Dior Prestige[37] and became the global ambassador of Tissot.[38]

I made a CC (Liu Yifei) film festival for myself, and saw her works have the shock moments in her performance. That convince me that she would be perfect for the part (leading actress in "The Chinese Widow"). When you have two actors like CC and Emile, you know they are so clever and so talented, so it's ...

—Academy Award-winning director Bille August[39]

In 2016, Liu starred in romance film Night Peacock, a Chinese-France co-production directed by Dai Sijie.[40] She then starred alongside Kris Wu in the youth romance film So Young 2: Never Gone.[41]

In 2017, Liu starred alongside Yang Yang in romantic fantasy film Once Upon a Time by award-winning director Anthony LaMolinara and Zhao Xiaoding.[42] She also starred in the historical film The Chinese Widow directed by Bille August.[43] The film premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival as the opening film, and Liu was nominated as Best Actress.[44] The same year, Liu reunited with White Vengeance co-star Feng Shaofeng in the fantasy comedy film Hanson and the Beast.[45]

In November 2017, Liu was cast as Mulan in the 2020 live-action adaptation of the 1998 Disney animated film.[7]

In December 2017, it was announced that Liu will star in the upcoming fantasy mystery television series, The Love of Hypnosis. This marks her first small-screen comeback in 12 years.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Liu started dating Song Seung-heon in 2015.[47] They met in 2013 while filming The Third Way of Love. In January 2018, Song's agency confirmed breakup reports by stating that both of them had been very busy and they naturally grew apart.[48]

Controversy[edit]

In August 2019, Liu reshared an image posted by Chinese newspaper People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.[49] The image included a quote from Chinese reporter Fu Guohao who worked for People's Daily-owned tabloid Global Times and was subsequently assaulted by protesters during the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests: "I support Hong Kong police. You can beat me now. What a shame for Hong Kong." This sparked international controversy, with Liu being accused of supporting police brutality.[50] Following this, the hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending supporting a boycott of the movie.[51][52][53] In response to the controversy, Liu was not present at the 2019 D23 Expo, which gave fans an exclusive sneak peek of Mulan.[54] When asked about the controversy in February 2020, Liu stated: "I think it's just a very sensitive situation."[55]

During the interview with Variety magazine at the premiere of Mulan on March 10, 2020, Liu described herself as "Asian" instead of “Chinese”, which caused anger among Chinese citizens, who threatened to boycott the movie and accused her of forgetting her roots, as well as questioning why a non-Chinese national was playing the "legendary Chinese icon".[56][57]

Music career[edit]

Liu signed with Sony Music Entertainment Japan in 2005.[1][58] She released her first Japanese single "Mayonaka no Door" with Sony Music on July 19, 2006. Her debut album Liu Yifei was released the next month in various parts of Asia such as mainland China, Hong Kong and throughout Southeast Asia, featuring a diverse music repertoire including rap and soft rock.[59] In the same year, Liu also released her Japanese album in which the single, "Mayonaka no Doa" was chosen to be an ending theme for the anime series Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z by TV Tokyo.[60]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year English title Role Notes
2004 Love of May Zhao Xuan [61][deprecated source]
The Love Winner Jin Qiaoli [62]
2006 Abao's Story Xixi Cameo[63]
2008 The Forbidden Kingdom Golden Sparrow
2010 Love in Disguise Song Xiaoqing
2011 A Chinese Fairy Tale Nie Xiaoqian
White Vengeance Consort Yu
2012 The Four Wu Qing
The Assassins Lingju / Diaochan
2013 The Four II Wu Qing
2014 The Four III Wu Qing
For Love or Money Xing Lu
2015 Outcast Zhao Lian
The Third Way of Love Zou Yu
2016 Night Peacock Elsa
So Young 2: Never Gone Su Yunjin
2017 Once Upon a Time Bai Qian / Si Yin / Su Su
The Chinese Widow Ying
Hanson and the Beast Bai Xianchu
2020 Mulan Mulan English version and Mandarin-language dubbing[64]

Television series[edit]

Year English title Chinese title Role Notes
2003 The Story of a Noble Family 金粉世家 Bai Xiuzhu
Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 天龙八部 Wang Yuyan
2005 Chinese Paladin 仙剑奇侠传 Zhao Ling'er
Doukou Nianhua 豆蔻年华 Teacher Xiao Zhao Cameo
2006 The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶 Xiaolongnü
2019 The Love of Hypnosis 南烟斋笔录 Lu Mansheng

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Album information Track list Notes
Title: Liu Yifei
Label: Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Limited
Release date: August 31, 2006
  1. 泡芙女孩
  2. 就要我滋味
  3. 心悸
  4. 幸运草
  5. 放飞美丽
  6. 世界的秘密
  7. 一克拉的眼泪
  8. 做你的秒钟
  9. 毛毛雨
  10. 爱的延长赛
Chinese album
Title: All My Words
Label: Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Release date: September 6, 2006
  1. 真夜中のドア
  2. 恋する週末
  3. HAPPINESS
  4. 愛のミナモト
  5. どこまでも ひろがる空に向かって
  6. テノヒラノカナタ
  7. My sunshiny day
  8. 世界の秘密
  9. CLOSE TO ME
  10. 月の夜
  11. スピード
  12. Pieces of my words ~言の花~
Japanese album

Singles[edit]

Album information Track list Notes
Title: Mayonaka no Door
Label: Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Release date: July 19, 2006
  1. 真夜中のドア
  2. brightly
  3. 真夜中のドア (Instrumental)
  4. brightly (Instrumental)
Japanese album

Soundtracks[edit]

Year English title Chinese title Album Notes
2006 I Want My Taste 我要我的滋味 N/A theme song for Yili milk
2011 Lan Ruo's Lyrics 兰若词 N/A theme song for video game A Chinese Ghost Story Online
Song of Chu 楚歌 White Vengeance OST with Feng Shaofeng
2012 Dreams Won't Die 梦不死 The Four OST with Deng Chao, Ronald Cheng & Collin Chou
Waiting For Snow 等雪来 The Assassins OST with Chow Yun-fat
2013 Letting Go 放下 The Four II OST
2016 Still Here 还在这里 Never Gone OST with Reno Wang
2017 Three Lifetimes, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花 Once Upon a Time OST with Yang Yang
2020 Reflection 自己 Mulan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Competitive feature film festivals main competition unit[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2016 40th Montreal World Film Festival Best Actress Night Peacock Nominated [65]
2017 20th Shanghai International Film Festival Best Actress The Chinese Widow Nominated [44]

Other film awards[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2012 24th Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers Awards Most Charismatic Actress A Chinese Fairy Tale Won [66]
2013 5th Macau International Movie Festival Best Actress The Assassins Won [31]
2016 16th Chinese Film Media Awards Most Anticipated Actress The Third Way of Love Won [36]
13th Guangzhou College Student Film Festival Most Popular Actress Night Peacock, Never Gone Won [67]
2017 9th Macau International Movie Festival Best Actress Once Upon a Time Nominated [68]

Forbes China Celebrity 100[edit]

Year Rank Ref.
2005 58th [69]
2006 51st [70]
2007 43rd [71]
2008 87th [72]
2009 43rd [73]
2010 66th [74]
2011 93rd [75]
2017 23rd [76]
2019 89th [77]
2020 30th [78]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Liu holds American citizenship,[2] but China's nationality laws do not recognize dual nationality.[3] Her birthplace, family and early life are all covered in the "Early life" section.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "签约日本索尼音乐总部 刘亦菲息影进歌坛". Tencent (in Chinese). June 28, 2005.
  2. ^ Bailey, Alyssa; Walsh, Savannah (March 10, 2020). "All About Liu Yifei, Star of Disney's Mulan". ELLE. Retrieved August 5, 2020. Yifei moved to the city with her mother when she was 10 years old, South China Morning Post reported. She'd return to China five years later (after becoming an American citizen) to attend Beijing Film Academy.
  3. ^ "Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China". China-Embassy.org. Retrieved August 5, 2020. Article 3 The People's Republic of China does not recognize dual nationality for any Chinese national.
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  9. ^ The "茜" (Xi) in her former name comes from the German film Sissi (Chinese translation 茜茜公主—hence the pronunciation of xi, not qian; her mother calls her Xixi).
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  31. ^ a b "刘亦菲凭《铜雀台》封后"澳门国际电影节"". China Daily (in Chinese). March 25, 2013.
  32. ^ "刘亦菲诠释"最落魄"貂蝉 《铜雀台》绝美依旧". Mtime (in Chinese). September 13, 2012.
  33. ^ "For love of money". Sina. November 17, 2014.
  34. ^ "Liu Yifei joins Nicolas Cage in new film". China.org.cn. August 30, 2013.
  35. ^ "Liu Yifei, Song Seung-Heon collaborate in love story". China.org.cn. January 20, 2015.
  36. ^ a b "第十六届华语电影传媒盛典颁奖". NetEase (in Chinese). November 19, 2016. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  37. ^ "Liu Yifei Is The New Face of Dior". Asia Beauty. October 18, 2015.
  38. ^ "Tissot Announces Its New Female Ambassador". Tissot Watches. October 23, 2015.
  39. ^ "Director Bille August Interview". YouTube. July 20, 2017.
  40. ^ Clifford Coonan (February 8, 2015). "Berlin: France Setting the Pace On China Co-Productions". The Hollywood Reporter.
  41. ^ "'So Young' sequel to meet audiences on July 8". China.org.cn. July 6, 2016.
  42. ^ "Crystal Liu, Yang Yang paired in a fantasy romance". China.org.cn. December 24, 2015.
  43. ^ "Liu Yifei stars in The Chinese Widow for Zhejiang Roc Pictures". Blake Friedmann. November 17, 2015.
  44. ^ a b "Shanghai Festival: Danish Auteur Bille August's 'The Chinese Widow' to Premiere in Competition". The Hollywood Reporter. August 6, 2017.
  45. ^ "《一代妖精》曝概念海报 巨型狐妖现身现代城市". Sina (in Chinese). May 22, 2017.
  46. ^ "《南烟斋笔录》主演神秘揭面 刘亦菲井柏然出演". ifeng (in Chinese). December 19, 2017.
  47. ^ "송승헌, 11세 연하 中배우 유역비와 열애설…소속사 "확인 중"". My Daily (in Korean). August 5, 2015.
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External links[edit]