Li Ziqi (Chinese: 李子柒; 32 years old) is a Chinese food & country-life video-blogger & internet celebrity who lives with her grandmother in the countryside of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
She is known as an “oriental lifestyle foodie” for creating food and handicraft preparation videos often from basic ingredients and tools using traditional Chinese techniques thus celebrating rural life.
Ziqi was orphaned at a very young age and soon ran away her abusing step-mother moving in with her grandparents to grow up at their rural noble house. Poor as they were, at the age of 14 she quits school and goes to the city in search of work making her living by working as a waitress, an electrician, a carpenter, a DJ at a club. Eight years later when her grandfather dies, she moves back to the countryside to take care of her grandmother. She adopts two dogs and chooses to be unmarried and childfree.
It was three years later, in 2015, that she began filming videos depict her and her grandmother as they go about their daily lives in their modest home. “When I worked in the city it was about survival”, Ziqi says. “Now when I work in the countryside I feel like I’m truly living.”
FILMING RURAL LIFE
In her videos, she performs the work of a farmer with the grace of a fairy. Ziqi appears to make everything from scratch using every single compound of any given ingredient impressing viewers with her deep knowledge of food, nature and Chinese culture.
But there’s more to that. Ziqi s’ videos have an ethereal, cinematic quality to them; she also rarely speaks in them. “I think this is just how things happened,” she responds. “At first, when I did everything myself, I’d set up a tripod, film and then press stop. That’s why all my shots are static and that’s why my videos are still filmed this way”. “Watching her videos reduces my pressure and makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. The scenes in her videos are very beautiful”, viewers say.
As of 2020, she has over 8 million subscribers on YouTube, 19 million followers on Sina Weibo and has inspired many. She was awarded the People’s Choice Award by the Communist Party’s mouthpiece “People’s Daily” newspaper and State media praising her: “Without a word commending China, Li Ziqi promotes Chinese culture in a good way and tells a good China story”.
Of course popularity didn’t come without a cost. Many viewers soon started accusing her of deception. There is no way she can do it all by herself they said. Her answer came with this backstage video showing old footage of her setting up the scenes. And here’s a long letter written in 2017 to address several controversies. Her online videos are now produced using a personal assistant and a videographer but she still directs all her videos. “I’m just filming my life”, Ziqi responds. “Or rather, I’m just filming the life that I want”.