Saturday, November 19, 2011

Zhang Ziyi

Actress Zhang Ziyi was born to a working-class family in Beijing, China in 1979. She trained as a dancer but opted to become an actress instead at age 15. She was discovered by China's renowned director Zhang Yimou and began her successful career, winning awards for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and gaining a presence in American film in Rush Hour 2 opposite Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.

Zhang Ziyi was born on February 9, 1979, in Beijing, China. As a child, she pursued her interests in dance and gymnastics. At the age of 11, she earned acceptance into a secondary school affiliated with the presitigious Beijing Dance College. Zhang earned countless awards in school, but became frustrated with the pressures. At 15, Zhang opted to focus on acting instead, and enrolled in Beijing's renowned Central Drama Academy.

At the age of 19, Zhang auditioned for a shampoo commercial, which was being made by famed director Zhang Yimou. Unbeknownst to Zhang, Yimou was using the advertisement as a way to screen actresses for his upcoming film, The Road Home. He case Zhang for the lear role of a young, rural schoolgirl in love with her schoolteacher.

In 2000, Zhang landed a high-profile part as the headstrong Jen Yu in Ang Lee's film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie because enormously successful domestically as well as internationally, and earned Zhang the Best Supporting Actress Award for both the Independent Spirit and Toronto Film Critics festivals.

Her first appearance in an American movie was in 2001's Rush Hour 2, starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. Because she didn't speak English at the time, Zheng had to receive translations from Chan. The actress eventually taught herself English by listening to songs by rapper Eminem. "Later, I understood how rude [the lyrics] were," she later laughed.

Offers for other American films began to pour in for Zhang, and she appeared in 2004's House of Flying Daggers, and 2005's Memoirs of a Geisha, also starring Crouching Tiger co-star Michelle Yeoh. In 2009, she starred in a remake of Horsemen with Dennis Quaid.

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