Chinese movie star Bai Baihe is in Abu Dhabi as part of the launch celebrations for the UAE’s first China Film Week. The film week forms part of a week of celebration of Chinese culture ahead of the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, in what will be one of the largest state visits ever hosted by the UAE. Bai Baihe may be big news in China, but in case you’re not familiar with her work, here’s our handy guide.
Education and training
Bai Baihe was born in Qingdong, China in 1984. She attended Wendeng Road Elementary School, where she initially demonstrated a talent for singing, dancing and acting. At the age of 12, she was admitted to the Beijing Dance Academy. In 2000, she auditioned for a role in Zhang Yimpou's Happy Times, and although she was unsuccessful in the audition, the director recommended her to the Central Academy of Drama, where she was admitted in 2002.
After graduating from the Central Academy, Bai Baihe made her TV debut in the series Bloom of Youth in 2006. Further TV roles would follow in shows like Where is Happiness and My Youthfulness. In 2011, Bai Baihe made her cinema debut in the low-budget romcom Love is not Blind alongside Wen Zhang. The film was a surprise hit, with Bai Baihe picking up a Hundred Flowers Award – the Chinese equivalent of a Golden Globe, and second only to the Golden Rooster Awards – for Best Actress.
Two years later, Bai Baihe starred in Feng Xiaogang's comedy Personal Tailor, which opened to a then-record $13.2M. She was on her way to the big time. In 2015, the actress starred in the fantasy comedy Monster Hunt, which at the time became the second highest grossing movie of all time at the Chinese box office – it remains the seventh highest-grossing today. The same year, Bai Baihe was named as China's highest-earning actress. Bai Baihe has so far starred in around 20 films, and almost as many TV series. She has received numerous awards and nominations in China, and starred in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-nominated Go Away Mr Tumour. So far, however, the Golden Rooster continues to elude her.
Bai Baihe was married for seven years to actor, and Love is not Blind co-star, Chen Yu Fan, making them one of China's favourite celebrity couples. In April 2017, Bai Baihe was caught at the centre of a tabloid scandal when paparazzi took shots of her relaxing by a pool in Thailand with a young male model. The tabloids, and the internet, gossiped for several days until Chen Yu Fan broke his silence with a video on his Weibo page. Chen Yu Fan asked the press and the netizens to stop harassing his wife, revealing that the couple had actually been divorced for two years but had kept the news a secret for the sake of their nine-year-old son. Relative calm was restored.
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