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
|Occupation||actress, director, singer|
|Spouse(s)||Huang Youlong (m. 2008)|
|Children||"April" (b. 11 April 2010)|
|Parents||Zhao Jiahai (father)
Wei Qiying (mother)
While studying at Beijing Film Academy, Zhao became an Asian superstar overnight in 1998-1999 for starring as Xiaoyanzi ("Little Swallow") in the TV series My Fair Princess, for which she also won a Golden Eagle Award. As the drama enjoyed unprecedented popularity domestically, Zhao is regarded by many as Mainland China's first "national idol" since the economic reform began in 1978. In 1999 she also began a singing career with her debut album Swallow.
Zhao has starred in many box-office smash-hits over the years, including Shaolin Soccer (2001), Red Cliff (2008-2009), Painted Skin (2008) and Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012). She has received awards from the Shanghai International Film Festival, Huabiao Awards, Changchun Film Festival, Hundred Flowers Awards and Shanghai Film Critics Awards for films like A Time to Love (2005) and Mulan (2009). While focusing her career on films, she also starred in highly-popular TV series such as Romance in the Rain (2001) and Moment in Peking (2005).
In 2013, Zhao's directorial debut So Young broke the grossing record for a female Chinese director in just a week, eventually becoming one of the highest-grossing films ever in China. In 2014, returning to acting after a 2-year absence, Zhao won Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Award and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award for Dearest.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Media
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Filmography
- 6 Discography
- 7 Ambassadorships
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Born and raised in Wuhu, Anhui, Zhao is the younger 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 and ink wash painting 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.
Early career (1994–1997)
While still in high school Zhao had her first experience in front of the camera as an extra on A Soul Haunted by Painting (1994), starring Gong Li. She played a prostitute at the brothel where Gong's character works at the beginning of the film and is briefly visible in some shots, although she has no dialogue.
In 1995, after her university entrance 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 My Fair Princess, 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 My Fair Princess 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 Award for Best Actress. Zhao was named one of Taiwan's "Top Ten Most Outstanding Individuals in Television Industry." Alongside the phenomenal success, more and more negative critic, mainland China's critics thought the role and her performance is a traditional-breaker and destroy the elegance of ancient palace life. During Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference 2002, a member of the CPPCC submit a proposal to oppose the "little swallow".
After several hit TV series and movies, such as Treasure Venture, The Duel (directed by Jeff Lau). Zhao filmed another series written by Chiung Yao in 2001, the story happened during WWII. Oppsite the funny princess, she played a girl tried to revenge her father and his 9th concubine in Romance in the Rain. The series recorded as highest rating of the year. 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. 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.
In 2001, she guest-starred in the 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. Zhao also participated in a romantic comedy called Chinese Odyssey 2002 as "Phoenix." Zhao was nominated for "Best Supporting Actress" at the 39th Golden Horse Awards. In 2002, Zhao played an assassin, worked with Shu Qi and Karen Mok in So Close.
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. She nominated for the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress for Warriors of Heaven and Earth, even though she only had 25 lines of dialogue in the entire movie. Each film was critically acclaimed and presented Zhao in a different light, but failed to box office.
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.
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. And she nominated Feitian Award for Outstanding Actress. 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, where she studied under 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 2008, Zhao met and married Singaporean businessman Huang Youlong.
Gongfu epics (2008–2010)
During 2008 and 2009, Zhao starred in the two-part Red Cliff., John Woo's historical epic set in the Three Kingdoms period which was mainland China's most expensive film up to that point. She played Sun Shangxiang, the independent-minded sister of Sun Quan. The character spends much of the films gathering intelligence behind enemy lines, disguised as a (male) enemy soldier.
For the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China she, like much of the Chinese acting elite, made a cameo in the patriotic tribute The Founding of a Republic. Zhao appears towards the end of the movie as a delegate to the first People's Political Consultative Conference, in a scene where the body is discussing proposals for the future flag and national anthem of the People's Republic.
On 11 April 2010, Zhao gave birth to her and Huang Youlong's daughter, Huang Xin. Parenthood would promt her to take a two-year break from acting.
Comeback and directing (2012-)
Zhao returned from her extended parental leave in 2012, playing -incidentally- a single mother in LOVE, directed by Doze Niu. In the same year she also starred in the sequel to Painted Skin, although playing a different character than in the original film.
After this Zhao turned from acting to directing. In 2012 she graduated from the directing institute of Beijing Film Academy, with a MFA dissertation defense score of 99/100, ranking #1 out of all the graduates. Her directoral debut, So Young, opened on 26 April 2013 to 141 million yuan in its first weekend. She was the first female director whose debut broke 100 million yuan in China. In just one week, "So Young" have garnered 350 million yuan, with the final box office record in China being over 700 million yuan.
In the following year she made a non-speaking cameo in the Hong Kong comedy 12 Golden Ducks, which revolves around a group of male escorts. When an elderly client is made to remember her youth, Zhao appears briefly as the woman's younger self.
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.— 
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.
Zhao is practicing Buddhism and is 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. Chen Kun has been one of Zhao Wei's long time best friends.
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 My Fair Princess 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.
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: 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 (飘)
- 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 Environment 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
- 2014 China Sport Show
- 2014 United Nations Foundation's Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Awards and nominations
In 1999, Zhao won a Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress for her breakthrough role "Xiaoyanzi" ("Little Swallow") in My Fair Princess (1999). She was the youngest actress to win an award in this category. Zhao won a Shanghai International Film Festival Golden Goblet 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).
On 27 May 2010, the Shanghai International Film Festival announced that Zhao would 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.
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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- , Sohu.com
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- 韩红募捐第3天 赵薇表示捐20万支持, 新浪, 17 April 2010
- 中国明星慈善排行榜揭晓 赵薇林心如同获该称号, Yahoo.com.cn, 27 April 2011
- 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
- 体育文化博览会落户芜湖 形象大使许海峰赵薇 Tecent 5 Jun. 2014
- Zhao Wei named ambassador for Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Sina.com 24 Nov. 2014
- 赵薇将亮相上海国际电影节 产后复出当评委, 新浪娱乐, 27 May 2010
- Shanghai fest adds Carax, Zhao， Hollywood Reporter 31 May 2010。
- 合肥金鸡百花电影节将设赵薇电影展 江淮晨報 19 July 2011
- 中视协演员工会成立 会长黄宏曝入会三条件(图) Sina.com 6 August 2011
84.Chinese Actress Zhao Wei Admitted into Jurade de Saint-Émilion Womenofchina.cn 18 September 2012