Star Power

Lin Miaoke [VeryCD]

Lin Miaoke, the little girl who achieved 9-year-old notoriety by lip-synching at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, has somehow become 18 years old while you weren’t paying attention to the quicksilver flow of time. We know this because she’s in headlines again recently, this time because it’s reported that she took the entrance exam to the Beijing Film Academy, but failed.

As China’s top institution for film and television education, it’s statistically almost impossible for anyone to be admitted to BFA: it is reported that only one of 114 candidates are admitted each year. But apparently some Chinese netizens don’t think it was acceptable for Lin to have failed, and social media platforms have been abuzz with people discussing why the line between child star and has-been is so thin.

Lin’s career as a child star started in controversy, though that didn’t dim her star as much as one would expect. Though the organizers of the Olympics opening ceremony were criticized by having Lin lip-synch to a charming rendition of “Ode to the Motherland” actually sung by 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, it was the cute girl in a red dress and pigtails, and not the real singer, who became a child celebrity after the Games ended.

Lin’s post-Olympics career hasn’t been remarkable, though busy. She starred in movies, TV plays and reality shows, performed in the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, attended a lot of commercial activities including even an event aiming to promote an infertility hospital. However, netizens now (fairly or not) point fingers saying these experiences have spread her too thin, that her reputation is superfluous and artificial now because her parents didn’t educate her right but just utilized her to make money, and the flowers and applause she received at a very young age had affected her values. These are all cited as reasons why she can’t replicate her success today.

What happened to Lin is definitely worth reflection, but on the other hand, it’s not reasonable to define a young person as a negative example just because of a failed exam to a very exclusive school, and probably unfair to heap all the blame on her parents and herself. The reason why people care about Lin’s life is mostly because she used to be a child star. Child stars have a different childhood from most, are thrust into the spotlight at a young and formative age, and carry the burden of the public’s expectations built up through all those years. But at the same time, different people make different choices in life. Let’s have a look at some grown-up child stars and see where they are now.

The 80s Sweatshirt Kid

Fang Chao was China’s ubiquitous child star of the 1980s. He began to act in movies at the age of 2. Before 15, he had starred in nearly 30 films and TV series and won many acting awards. He even co-starred with highly renowned Chinese actresses such as Siqing Gaowa and Pan Hong. But Fang had a hard time getting into film school to pursue further studies. He was once even found working as a waiter in a small restaurant for nearly two years. Fang is currently back on the screen in minor roles.

Fang Chao [China Daily]

“China’s Shirley Temple”

Jin Ming was probably the most famous Chinese child star in 1990s. Dubbed “China’s Shirley Temple,” she impressed millions of Chinese audiences with her sweet smile and pigtails. She became extremely famous after she shot a series of hit TV shows all adapted from the novels written by well-known romance author Chiung Yao. People today can still recall her excellent performances in “Wanjun” (1990), “Longing for Husband to Return” (1990), “Grass by the Riverside” (1992), and “Plum Blossom” (1993).

However, her early career trapped her in the box of “China’s child star” forever. As she grew up, Jin gradually lost her fame. It was difficult for adult Jin to find a suitable role, because the audience couldn’t accept seeing the little girl they remembered having a romantic relationship and doing normal adult things. Since the age of 18, she has become a mostly private and low-profile figure in the showbiz world.

But actually, Jin doesn’t sorry about herself. She has made a success in other fields. She was admitted to Peking University, one of the top universities in China, and studied in its School of International Studies. After graduating, Jin began to work at the Chinese Coal Mine Art Troupe. In 2012, Jin was reported to have tied the knot with Chinese film promoter An Yugang.

Images of Jin Ming [china.org.cn]

Cute Sit-com Child

Guan Ling rose to fame in 1993 when she took on the role of Jia Yuanyuan, a humorous and charming young girl, in the 120-episode Chinese sitcom “I Love My Family.” This influential show was directed by famous director Ying Da, who is touted “the Godfather of Chinese sitcom.” Guan graduated from the Beijing Institute of Technology with a MBA degree. Guan is now Chinese actress, TV host, and director. In 2011, she married Chinese TV producer Ji Yunfei, and gave birth to their first son in October, 2012.

Guan Ling [china.org.cn]

Dragon Boy

In 1988, Chen Jianan played the little dragon boy in the children’s hit fantasy TV series “Little Dragon Boy” when he was only 4 years old. “Little Dragon Boy” was so popular that it’s said almost every Chinese person between the age of 25 and 35 can hum its theme song even today. Between the ages of 4 and 14, Chen spent all his time shooting some TV series or the other, which caused him to struggle when he returned to school. Choosing not to apply for any film university after graduating high school, Chen set about to make it in regular society. He once operated a foreign trade company, set up his own music label, and now is vice-president of a stunt-training school. However, it was rumored that he has plans to remake “Little Dragon Boy.”

Chen Jianan [china.org.cn]

The “Peasant” Child Star

In 1999, Wei Minzhi of Hebei province became world famous overnight for playing a fictionalized version of herself in Zhang Yimou’s, Not One Less,a film about rural education that hired real children from the countryside as actors. The movie changed her life, as the usual path for a girl her age in her area was to leave school at an early age, tend sheep, and then get married. Wei was asked act in Zhang’s film at age 13 and got amazing reviews, but she didn’t stay in show business. At 19, Wei became a student at Xi’an International Studies University. In 2006, she went to Brigham Young University-Hawaii for further study and was offered a full scholarship.

Wei Minzhi [365jia.cn] [sogou.com]

The Binbin Dynasty

Wen Zhaoyu, known as “Little Binbin”, used to be a popular child star in Taiwan. Unlike most of the child stars on this list, his stardom was replicable, quite literally. Wen now has three sons and the eldest son has also become child star called “Little little Bin,” who looks very similar to his father. His second and third son are dubbed by the public as “Mini Bin” and “Cute Bin” respectively.

[rednet.cn]

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