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Celebrities of China We Didn’t Know Existed

The mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong entertainment industries are crammed with celebrities that are adored by millions of people, yet many non-Chinese will have never heard of them. CHI takes a look at some of China’s biggest celebrities whom we know very little about.

When we think of Chinese celebrities, the likes of martial arts supremo Jackie Chan, and actresses Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li spring to mind. These three celebrities are famous both at home and around the world for starring in internationally acclaimed films, yet there plenty of celebrities that are equally as famous in China that we don’t know about. So, who are they? Let’s find out.

Yang Mi, 杨幂, Actress and Singer

Yang Mi was born in Beijing in 1986 and started her acting career at the tender age of four, playing the role of a young princess in the TV series ‘Tang Ming Huang’. Her parents enrolled her in a course at the China Children’s Film Studio, and following the completion of her schooling she studied drama at the Beijing Film Academy.

Yang first rose to prominence in 2006 when she starred in the hit TV drama ‘The Return of the Condor Heroes’. Roles in subsequent TV series such as the 2009 ‘Chinese Paladin 3’ and the 2011 ‘Palace’ propelled Yang onto the celebrity circuit and she quickly became a household name, starring in numerous commercial advertisements. In 2011, Yang crossed over to film and starred in the hit movie ‘Mysterious Island’. Also in 2011, Yang signed a four movie contract with the Mei Ah entertainment company. Yang’s popularity among Chinese netizens and celebrity watchers grew even further in 2012 when she announced she was dating Hong Kong actor Hawick Lau. Yang has also embarked on a pop career, releasing her first single ‘Close to Me’ in 2012.

Luo Zhixiang, 罗志祥, Singer and TV Host

More commonly known by his stage name of Show Luo, or his nickname Xiao Zhi (meaning little pig), Luo Zhixiang is a Taiwanese singer, dancer and TV host. Luo is an accomplished performer, and has been given the title of ‘Asia’s Dance King’ by the Chinese media. In addition to his musical skills, Luo is also host of the popular Taiwanese variety show ‘100% Entertainment’.

Luo was originally a member of two different boy bands, but it was as a solo artist that he first achieved success. Albums such as ‘ShowTime’, ‘ExpertShow’ and ‘SpeShow’ have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and Luo’s popularity rose further with collaborations with artists such as Xiao S and Jolin Tsai. Luo has undertaken three separate world tour concerts in 2007, 2010 and 2011, performing in countries such as Japan, America, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia. Luo has also recently launched his own clothing brand entitled ‘Stage’ and he has branches throughout Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Jacky Cheung, 张学友, Singer

Referred to by sections of the Chinese media as the ‘God of Songs’, Jacky Cheung is a legendary Cantonese pop singer. Cheung has had a long and illustrious singing career, releasing his first single in 1984. Cheung was born in Hong Kong to parents from mainland China, thus he grew up speaking both Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. Cheung was able to use this to his advantage by singing songs in both languages and thus developing a wide and loyal fan base.

Cheung has sold in excess of 125 million records to date, and has performed in numerous countries around the world. In 2011, Cheung set a Guinness world record for the largest combined audience for a live act - over two million people saw him live at his “Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century World Tour”. Cheung has amassed an estimated US$27 million fortune, and he has two daughters with his wife, Hong Kong actress May Lo Mei-Mei.

Lin Chiling, 林志玲, Model and Actress

Known as the ‘First Face of Taiwan’, Lin Chiling is a successful model and actress that is highly regarded for her beauty and gentle demeanour. Lin began part-time modelling at the age of 15 and continued until she graduated from university. Although hoping to start a career in fine arts, Lin got her big break in 2002 when she was asked to take part in a television advertisement in Hong Kong. In 2004, she starred in numerous advertisements in Taiwan and her popularity rose to unprecedented levels.

Lin has also starred in several TV roles and made her film debut in ‘Red Cliff’. More recently, Lin starred alongside Taiwan pop sensation Jay Chou in the 2009 adventure film ‘The Treasure Hunter’. In 2011, Lin’s earnings topped 200 million Taiwan dollars, and it was her eighth consecutive year as Taiwan’s highest earning model.

Wong Faye, 王菲, Singer

Wong Faye is one of China’s most popular and successful female singers. Born in Beijing in 1969, Wong moved to Hong Kong when she was aged 17 and quickly came to public attention for her ballad singing abilities. Wong has recorded over 20 albums, sold over 10 million records and her career earnings are estimated to total US$21 million. She is the only Chinese singer to have sold out Japan’s Budokan arena four times.

Wong married in 2005 and subsequently withdrew from the entertainment industry, then in 2010 she launched a hugely popular comeback tour which included concerts in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. Wong popularity rose even further when she starred in the prestigious 2011 and 2012 CCTV Spring Festival Galas which were viewed by millions of people.

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