Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Zhao Wei (born 12 March 1976), also known as Vicki Zhao, is a Chinese actress, pop singer, and film director. She is considered one of the "Four Dan Actresses" in China.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zhao married businessman Huang Youlong in 2008 in Singapore. The couple's daughter was born on 11 April 2010.