Liu in 2016
August 25, 1987
|Alma mater||Beijing Film Academy|
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", Liu was named as one of the New Four Dan actresses of China in 2009. She has since played Mulan in The Walt Disney Company's 2020 live-action film Mulan.
Liu was born in Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei as An Feng (安风). 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, 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) and began modelling, along with training in singing, dancing and playing the piano. Her godfather is Chen Jinfei (陈金飞), the Chairman of Beijing Tongchan Investment Group.
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. In 2002, she returned to China to pursue an acting career and changed her name to "Liu Yifei" (刘亦菲). Several weeks after returning to China, Liu was accepted into the Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy at age 15  and graduated in 2006.
2003–2006; Rising popularity
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. The series achieved the highest ratings on CCTV, and positive reviews from audience. 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. The series was broadcast in Taiwan and achieved a rating of 5.69, becoming the highest-rated Chinese drama in Taiwan. Liu's role as the beautiful Wang Yuyan earned her the nickname of "Fairy Sister" by the media and fans.
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, and solidified her popularity in China.
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. 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. After the drama aired, Liu gained acclaim for her performance and swiftly experienced a surge in popularity. The same year, she was chosen as the "Golden Eagle Goddess" at the 6th China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival.
2008–2013; Transition to films
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. She played Golden Sparrow, an orphan seeking revenge against her parents' killer. Thereafter, she starred in romantic-comedy Love in Disguise (2010) opposite Taiwanese singer-actor Wang Leehom.
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.
Liu won her first major acting award in her 11-year career, the Best Actress award at the 5th Macau International Movie Festival, for her role as Lingju and Diaochan in the historical film The Assassins (2012).
2014–present; International collaborations and television comeback
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. She then starred in the American-Chinese action film Outcast (2014) directed by Nick Powell, alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.
Liu starred in another Chinese-South Korean co-production, The Third Way of Love (2015), a romance melodrama co-starring Song Seung-heon. Her performance in the film led to her win for the Most Anticipated Actress award at the 16th Chinese Film Media Awards. The same year, she was named the first Chinese ambassador of Dior Prestige and became the global ambassador of Tissot.
In 2017, Liu starred alongside Yang Yang in romantic fantasy film Once Upon a Time by award-winning director Anthony LaMolinara and Zhao Xiaoding. She also starred in the historical film The Chinese Widow directed by Bille August. The film premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival as the opening film, and Liu was nominated as Best Actress. The same year, Liu reunited with White Vengeance co-star Feng Shaofeng in the fantasy comedy film Hanson and the Beast.
Liu started dating Song Seung-heon in 2015. 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.
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. 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. Following this, the hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending supporting a boycott of the movie. In response to the controversy, Liu was not present at the 2019 D23 Expo, which gave fans an exclusive sneak peek of Mulan. When asked about the controversy in February 2020, Liu stated: "I think it's just a very sensitive situation."
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".
Liu signed with Sony Music Entertainment Japan in 2005. 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. 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.
|2004||Love of May||Zhao Xuan||[deprecated source]|
|The Love Winner||Jin Qiaoli|||
|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|
|The Third Way of Love||Zou Yu|
|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|
|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|
|Album information||Track list||Notes|
|Title: Liu Yifei
Label: Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Limited
Release date: August 31, 2006
|Title: All My Words
Label: Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Release date: September 6, 2006
|Album information||Track list||Notes|
|Title: Mayonaka no Door
Label: Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Release date: July 19, 2006
|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
Competitive feature film festivals main competition unit
|2016||40th Montreal World Film Festival||Best Actress||Night Peacock||Nominated|||
|2017||20th Shanghai International Film Festival||Best Actress||The Chinese Widow||Nominated|||
Other film awards
|2012||24th Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers Awards||Most Charismatic Actress||A Chinese Fairy Tale||Won|||
|2013||5th Macau International Movie Festival||Best Actress||The Assassins||Won|||
|2016||16th Chinese Film Media Awards||Most Anticipated Actress||The Third Way of Love||Won|||
|13th Guangzhou College Student Film Festival||Most Popular Actress||Night Peacock, Never Gone||Won|||
|2017||9th Macau International Movie Festival||Best Actress||Once Upon a Time||Nominated|||
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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.
- "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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Liu was born in China and moved to the U.S. at the age of 10. After staying there for five years, she became a U.S. citizen but returned to China and built a career in Chinese TV and films
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Liu Yifei.|
- The Legend of Mulan: A Heroine of Ancient China, a bilingual Chinese/English children's picture book