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Viann Zhang:Full Speed Ahead

王烨昇 Johnny Wang 2016-02-09 15:28

Venice, in a long blue dress. She strikes a pose in the camera of the photographer for a fashion shoot. This girl with a porcelain face and silken hair is Viann Zhang. 


This movie icon got off to a hot start in 2010 when she was chosen by Feng Xiaogang, the famous Chinese movie director, to act with famous actors such as Ge You and Sun Honglei, in the movie If You Are The One. This movie formally launched Zhang’s acting career. She says she was surprised and worried about the pressure at first, but once she arrived at the studio and talked with the director and staff, the worry faded away . 


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“I think I was so fortunate to work with Mr. Feng Xiaogang, such a ‘big’ director, and Ge You and Honglei, these first-class actors. I thought it would be stressful to work with them, but it turned out to be a great joy. What a rare chance for me then! 


I developed much more confidence under Feng’s guidance. From the moment he chose me I wanted his approval and so I was determined to do well in this role.” she recalled. 


She realises what good fortune she has had for her first performance as well as a smooth career development thereafter in the various roles she has played. The seed of this progress was planted with her breakthrough but her skill, developed also because of her passion of performing and constant practice. 


As she reminisced, the movie The Patriot Yue Fei is the movie where she got to really show her skill. The players need to thoroughly understand what the director wants from the work and scripts. Movies of ancient stories have plots that are very different from modern life. No player would be able to act in an ancient story intuitively as they live in a modern society, so it requires hard work and preparation. In The Patriot Yue Fei, she took over one month to study the role of Liang Hongyu, the female general of China’s Song Dynasty. During the month she did nothing but practice the required skills, like riding a horse and other aspects of life portrayed in the script, aiming to enter psychologically into the world of the role. Hard as it is, she concludes that she is lucky to do a job that she loves. 


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Preparation was even harder for the TV programme The Condor Heroes. She happened to be involved in both the TV programme The Condor Heroes and The Duke of Mount Deer because the time schedules could not be adjusted and the two programmes started at the same time. To make both, she worked in the latter team during the daytime to perform one script and when it came to 4 or 5pm she went to the former team to do the night script. She worked non-stop for four days without sleep. Her exhausting workload made her sleep for a day and night. “I slept so much that my assistant could not help but feel like waking me up.” she joked. 


To get a good understanding of something, you had better know the reasons behind the way it is. Young people may not clearly understand this theory but young as she is, Zhang, having performed various roles, has her own opinions about a career in entertainment. She regards a good conscience to be majorly important for an actor or actress. She said, “Many well-known performers, besides their perfect performance in movies, have a strong responsibility to complete good works for their audience. However successful they have been, they have a heart-felt responsibility for their art, taking this artform seriously. I feel I should keep on learning, refining myself in detail, in many aspects, to form a better me.” 


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When talking about how TV programmes differ from country to country, from her experience of professional work over the years, she uttered, “The TV programmes on the mainland of China have a realistic style, talking about the themes from a macro angle; the ones in Hong Kong China are very localised, aimed at what the local audienc wants to see; American ones have various themes and ways of producing, of course often at a high cost and use more visual technologies; the Korean ones do well in their ‘idol dramas’ with complex storylines and subtle depiction of emotions. The audience watching the Korean TV programmes will certainly be emotionally moved.” she commented. 


Many roles engender many ideas about a person. It’s complicated. But Zhang seems genuine and down-to-earth. “ I live a simple personal life. I just stay at home when I’m not at work, painting, or just hanging out with my family. That’s also because I don’t actually have much time to spend time with them.” she explained. 


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She is simple in personality but not so in her work environment. She delighted the international entertainment industry showing up on the red carpet of Cannes Movie Festival in a dress by Sheguang Hu. Although having got plenty of media attention, she still thinks, “Individuals may have different understandings on all kinds of things, but as to fashion, I think it’s best to have my own style, listening to my heart. Fashion moves in a circle that runs repeatedly so there is no absolute trend. I’ll just be myself.” 


Being a celebrity she understands there are ups and downs to that life. She appears peaceful before the inevitable rumours, saying, “I think I have got used to them. At the very beginning, I cared about them, shocked by the Internet violence, feeling upset. But now I don’t. It’s a waste of time trying to explain or getting upset, I prefer to work hard - actions speak louder than words. Once my efforts are recognised, I feel everything I am facing today will be rewarded.” 


With this awareness, she started to prepare for a TV programme adapted from a novel on the Internet, in which she plays a cute actress. After that she will be amongst the cast of the TV programme The Beauty Si an historical script. She considers it a challenge. 


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She never seems to stop or even slow her pace. In her words, regarding her career she is like Gu Qianmo in the TV programme Fen Jiong who persistently goes on without fearing anything. “I will go on however difficult it gets.” 


We asked, “In one sentence how would you decribe yourself?” 


“Fearless, I think,” she articulated.



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