Lay (entertainer)

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.
Zhang Yixing (Lay)
Lay Zhang at 1st Asia Artist Awards 01.jpg
Lay in November 2016
Background information
Chinese name (traditional)
Chinese name (simplified)
Pinyin Zhāng Yìxīng (Mandarin)
Jyutping Zoeng1 Ngai6 Hing1 (Cantonese)
Ethnicity Han
Born (1991-10-07) October 7, 1991 (age 25)
Changsha, Hunan, China
Years active 2012–present
Associated acts

Zhang Yixing (simplified Chinese: 张艺兴; traditional Chinese: 張藝興; pinyin: Zhāng Yìxīng); Korean: 장이씽; Japanese: レイ, 張芸興; born (1991-10-07)October 7, 1991),[1] better known as Lay (Korean: 레이), is a Chinese singer-songwriter, record producer, author, dancer, and actor. He is a member and the main dancer of the South Korean-Chinese boy group Exo and its sub-unit Exo-M.[2] He first became known after participating in the Chinese TV talent show Star Academy in 2005.[3] In January 2015, Lay was ranked 5th on Baidu's "2014 Top 10 Most Popular Celebrities" list.[4] In September 2015, he released his autobiography titled Standing Firm at 24, which broke several online book records.[5] In July 2016,Lay was appointed by the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) of Changsha as the publicity ambassador, the first celebrity to hold such title.[6][7] On October 28, 2016, Lay released his mini album Lose Control in both South Korea and China.[8] The EP was a commercial success peaking at number 1 on the Gaon Album Chart.

Early life[edit]

Lay was born in Changsha, Hunan, China[1] on October 7, 1991.[9] In 2000, at 9 years old, he participated in a Chinese TV show as the fan club member of the actor and singer Jimmy Lin, giving him his first contact with the entertainment industry.[1] Lay began his career as a local child star in the province of Hunan, after winning third place in a competition organized by the popular TV show Star Academy in 2005.[3] He also appeared in an episode of Yue Ce Yue Xin Kai and Liu Na's variety show, Na Ke Bu Yi Yang between 2005 and 2006.[10] In April 2006, he auditioned to star in the series The Duke of Mount Deer directed by Zhang Jizhong. Despite being one of the finalists, he did not win the role.[11] In 2008, Lay joined S.M. Entertainment after a successful audition with the company's global casting system in Changsha. At the time of the auditions, he was 16 years old and was studying for his college entrance exams.[3] In 2011, prior to debut with Exo, he briefly worked with SHINee during their concert tour as Jonghyun's dance replacement.[9]


2012–14: Debut with EXO[edit]

See also: Exo (band)

Lay became the sixth member of South Korean boy group Exo who was formally introduced to the public on January 17, 2012.[12] The group officially debuted on April 8, 2012. In December 2012, Lay was featured in S.M. Entertainment's project dance group S.M. The Performance, alongside fellow Exo member Kai and labelmates Yunho, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Minho and Taemin.[13] On December 29, the group performed their single "Spectrum", which was released the following day, at the 2012 SBS Gayo Daejeon.[14]

Early in 2014, Lay composed and performed the song "I'm Lay" for his solo performance during Exo's first headlining concert tour The Lost Planet.[15] Later in 2014, he performed another self-composed song titled "I'm Coming" on a special year-end television program on Hunan TV.[16]

2015: Solo activities and acting career beginnings[edit]

In April 2015, S.M. Entertainment announced that a personal studio had been established for Lay's activities in China.[17] In May 2015, he became a regular cast member of the Chinese reality television show Go Fighting!.[18] In June 2015, Lay composed the song "Promise" from the repackaged edition of Exo's second studio album, Love Me Right. He also wrote the lyrics for the Chinese version of the song, while the Korean version was co-written by Chen and Chanyeol.[19]

On September 18, 2015, the limited edition of Lay's autobiography Standing Firm At 24 was published, while the standard edition became available on October 7.[20] The book documents important events throughout his life and broke several online sales records by selling 68,537 copies in the first 24 minutes of pre-sales.[21] With less than 3 month sale of 1.4 million in royalties, he took the 4th place on ‘The 10th Chinese Celebrity Writers List’, released by China’s 3 influential media outlets, WCC Daily (mainstream), Cover News (Digital) and Great Star Media, becoming the youngest celebrity author to enter the charts. He was also the champion of the 2015 installment of the ‘Annual Celebrity Book Sales’, and took the top spot of ‘Asia’s Best Books’, twice during its monthly ranking and six times for the weekly chart. He also locked in standings for Rakuten’s listings, with 400,000 copies sold within 6 months, and has received much reader acclaim and praise.[22]

The same month, he was cast in the upcoming Indian-Chinese movie Kung Fu Yoga, starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong,[3][23] and was later announced to be starring as the male lead alongside labelmate Krystal in the upcoming South Korean-Chinese movie Unexpected Love.[24]

In November 2015, Lay made his big screen debut with a supporting role in the Chinese movie Ex Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back, which was a box office hit, garnering 2 billion in sales within 10 days of its release. He later won the Best Supporting Actor Award at the 2016 China Britain Film Festival for his performance.[25] He also wrote and recorded an original soundtrack for the movie titled "Alone (One Person)", which reached number one on the Baidu Music Chart,[26] and later won Best Movie Original Soundtrack awards at the 16th Top Chinese Music Awards and 4th V-Chart Awards. Lay also starred in the Chinese movie Oh My God and collaborated with his co-stars Coco Jiang Wen and Li Xiaolu on an original soundtrack for the movie titled "Happy Youth",[27][28] which debuted at number 8 on the Billboard V Chart.[29]

2016–present: Rising popularity and solo debut[edit]

In January 2016, Lay and the other cast members of Go Fighting! appeared in the Chinese movie Royal Treasure. In April 2016, he received the Most Popular Newcomer award at the 16th Top Chinese Music Awards. In May 2016, Lay made his small screen debut in the Chinese television series To Be A Better Man,[30][31] and released a Chinese song titled "Monodrama" as part of S.M. Entertainment's Station music project.[32] Written by Lay and co-composed and arranged with Divine Channel,[33] "Monodrama" broke records by staying at number 1 on YinYueTai's VChart for 5 consecutive weeks.[34]

In May 2016, Lay starred in the Chinese television drama The Mystic Nine, a prequel to The Lost Tomb. The series achieved unprecedented success, placing first in television ratings and setting a record for the most online views garnered in a day, and has accumulated over 10 billion views in total.[35] The television series went on to have a side story, which focuses on Lay's character Er Yue Hong.

In October 2016, Lay's career as a solo singer began with the release of "What U Need?" (stylized as "what U need?") as a surprise gift for his fans.[36][37][38] The song hit the #4 spot on the China V Chart as well as on Billboard's World Digital Songs, and made it to the top 60 on the US iTunes chart, making Lay the first Chinese artist to appear on the chart.[39] He performed the song for the first time on October 10 at the 2016 Asia Song Festival in Busan, South Korea.[40][41] On October 28, one day after holding a press conference at Shanghai Town & Country Community, Lay released his debut extended play Lose Control, which contains 6 Mandarin tracks, and the music video for the title song.[42] He was a producer, and personally in charge of the composition, arrangement and writing the lyrics of every song.[43] The song "Lose Control" stayed as #1 on Billboard's China V Chart for 6 weeks in a row.[44] Lose Control broke the record in South Korea for the most sales by a solo artist, with pre-orders surpassing 200,000 copies before the physical album was released. Lay also became the first solo artist to sell more than 40,000 album copies within a day and 125,000 within a week from the album's release.[45] Over 1,000,000 copies of the digital album has been sold on Xiami.[46] He performed "Lose Control" for the first time on The Show on November 15.,[47] Lose Control was a commercial success peaking at number 1 on the Gaon Album Chart.

Later in November, Lay was announced to be starring in a Chinese remake of the hit Japanese drama TV series Operation Love.[48]


In 2015-2016, Lay was chosen to be a spokesperson for several brands, in particular Pancoat and Mentos for which he became the first spokesperson in Asia. He is also Asia’s first male endorser for Vichy, and China’s first endorser for Planters. Other products he endorses include Kangshifu Ice Tea, Tide, Cornetto, Huawei, Lay's, AirBender, Chushou TV and Tmall.


Main article: Lay Discography
See also: Exo discography

Extended play[edit]


Main article: Exo videography


Title Year Role Notes
SMTOWN The Stage 2015 Himself Documentary of SM Town.[49]
Ex-Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back. Lee Xiang He Special appearance
Oh My God Le Yi
Go Fighting The Movie: Royal Treasure 2016 Himself
Kung Fu Yoga 2017 Xiao Guang
The Founding of An Army Lu Deming
Unexpected Love Han Bing

Television series[edit]

Title Year Role Network Notes
We The People 1998 Huan Huan BMN: Beijing Television
Exo Next Door 2015 Lay Naver TV Cast Special appearance
To Be A Better Man 2016 Xiao Cai JSBC: Jiangsu Television
ZRTG: Zhejiang Television
The Mystic Nine Er Yuehong SMG: Dragon Television
The Mystic Nine Side Story: Flowers Bloom in February Er Yuehong IQiyi
Operation Love 2017 Yan Xiaolai SMG: Dragon Television
Tencent QQ

Variety shows[edit]

Year Title Network Role Notes
Star Academy 2005 HBS: Hunan Television Participant
Celebrity Chef Has Arrived 2014 JSBC: Jiangsu Television Contestant Ep. 1 and 2
Star Room Escape ZRTG: Zhejiang Television Guest Ep. 3 and 4
Crazy Magic- Happy Baby Go HBS: Hunan Television Ep. 4
Happy Camp 2015 March 14, 2015
Hurry Up, Brother ZRTG: Zhejiang Television Ep. 20 May 8, 2015
Happy Camp HBS: Hunan Television November 21, 2015
Go Fighting! SMG: Dragon Television Main Cast Season 1
2016 Season 2
Happy Camp HBS: Hunan Television Guest September 10, 2016
Day Day Up
Happy Camp 2017 March 18, 2017


Year Title Notes ISBN
October 1, 2015 Standing Firm at 24 Autobiography ISBN 978-7550260917

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2015 The Wind of the East Ceremony[50] Music Pioneer of the Year N/A Won
Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards China Beautiful Idol of The Year N/A Won
Baidu Music Awards Best Movie OST "Alone (One Person)" Won
2016 Qingting FM Awards[51] Most Popular Male Artist N/A Won
18th Huading Awards Best New Actor N/A Nominated
16th Top Chinese Music Awards[52] Best Movie OST "Alone (One Person)" Won
Most Popular Newcomer N/A Won
Most Popular Movie Idol Oh My God Nominated
4th YinYueTai V-Chart Awards Movie OST of the Year "Alone (One Person)" Won
Most Popular Newcomer N/A Won
LeTV LeEco Night Most Popular All-Rounded Idol N/A Won
4th China-Britain Film Festival Best Supporting Actor Ex-Files 2 Won
Asia Good Book Awards (China) Best Crossover Author of the Year Standing Firm at 24 Won
Tencent QQ Star Awards Most Popular TV Actor N/A Nominated
13th Asia Song Festival[53] Best Asian Artist Awards N/A Won
SBS PopAsia Awards[54] Best Solo Star N/A Won
2017 Hunan Outstanding Youth Awards Kindness Award N/A Won
China TV Quality Drama Awards 2017 All-rounded Artist of the Year[55] N/A Won
5th YinYueTai VChart Awards Best Male Artist N/A Won
Album of the Year Lose Control Won
11th Dangdang Reading Festival & Influential Awards Influential Trendy Celebrity Author Award Standing Firm at 24 Won


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  11. ^ "兴坨小猪参加《鹿鼎记》角逐韦小宝" (in Chinese). January 26, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
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  13. ^ "Group SM The Performance". Jpopasia. 2012-12-30. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
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  26. ^ "新歌榜-百度音乐排行榜_百度音乐-听到极致". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
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  29. ^ "China V Chart | Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
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  31. ^ Ilin Mathew (August 19, 2015). "EXO Member Lay to Make Acting Debut in Chinese Drama". International Business Times. Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  32. ^ crystalcove. "Watch: EXO's Lay Sings Of Unrequited Love In Solo Track "Monodrama"". Soompi. Retrieved 2016-05-26. 
  33. ^ "엑소 레이, SM STATION 16번째 주인공..첫 솔로곡". Osen. Retrieved 2016-05-26. 
  34. ^ "Lay's Monodrama topping 9 charts and breaking the VChart record with 1,968,909 views in 48hrs !!!". onehallyu. Retrieved 2016-10-18. 
  35. ^ "EXO Lay's drama 'The Mystic Nine' reaches 10 billion views online!". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
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  42. ^ Ahn Eun-kyung (October 27, 2016). "엑소(EXO) 레이, 28일 첫 솔로 앨범 'LOSE CONTROL'의 전곡 공개…'관심폭발'". Top Star News (in Korean). Retrieved November 25, 2016. 
  43. ^ Kang, E. (2016-10-20). "Release Date And Details Of EXO Member Lay's First Mini Album Revealed". Soompi. Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
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  45. ^ "[브레이크뉴스] 엑소 레이, 'LOSE CONTROL'로 국내 선주문량 20만장 이어 中 차트까지 접수". 브레이크뉴스. Retrieved 2016-11-11. 
  46. ^ "Lose Control on Xiami". 
  47. ^ "엑소 레이, 솔로로 韓음악방송 활동…'루즈컨트롤' 첫선". Retrieved 2016-11-08. 
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  49. ^ "'SMTOWN The Stage' concert documentary film to be released this summer". Allkpop. May 15, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  50. ^ "EXO'S ZHANG YIXING RECEIVES MUSIC PIONEER OF THE YEAR AWARD: LAY ADMITS HE WAS 'VERY NERVOUS'". Movie News Guide. November 18, 2015. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
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  54. ^ "2016 SBS PopAsia Award WINNER: Best Solo Star". Retrieved November 16, 2016. 
  55. ^

External links[edit]