As you all know or can guess from the title, today is Zhao Liying’s birthday! She is now 29 (who would’ve guessed from that baby face) and we want to celebrate it with this post!
Zhao Liying（赵丽颖）is also known as Zanilia Zhao or Zhao Xiaodao (赵小刀) after the variety show Up Idol or husband (老公) and BOSS by Chinese fans and probably Ying Baobao (颖宝宝) now after her interview on Jing Xing Show!
Even though Zhao Liying has only been the in the industry for 10 years, she has already made a name for herself and a big one at that! Through hard work, luck, talent (mainly hard work), she went from a rural girl who aspired to be a flight attendant to the celebrity she is today!
Zhao Liying’s Drama Timeline
2007-2010 – Golden Marriage 《金婚》, The Girl in Blue 《佳期如梦》, and The Dream of Red Mansion 《新红楼梦》
Born on October 16, 1987, Zhao Liying entered the entertainment industry in 2006 when she was only 19 years old after she won the Yahoo Search Star Game and signed with Huayi Brothers. She made her debut in the family drama, Golden Marriage, in 2007 as the youngest of three sisters in the family. Afterwards, she was cast in minor roles like An An in The Girl in Blue and Xing Xiuyan in The Dream of Red Mansion.
2011 – My New Fair Princess (新还珠格格)
In 2011, Zhao Liying re-signed with Hairun Movies and Television Production. That year, she auditioned for the role of Xiao Yan Zi and later, Zi Wei in the drama New My Fair Princess. She said that she auditioned for a different part in My New Fair Princess, but didn’t get that role because she forgot her lines. The director gave her a second chance for a different part. This role was the one that opened the door for more opportunities
2012 – Cuo Dian Yuan Yang（错点鸳鸯)
Zhao Liying starred in her first lead drama Cuo Dian Yuan Yang where she played a double role as Su Huan Er and Yang Yi Liu. The drama was very well received and further boosted her fame and her recognition as an actress.
2013 – Female Prime Minister/Legend of Lu Zhen (陆贞传奇) and The Legend of Chasing Fish
Her career took off in 2013 when she landed her second female lead role in Female Prime Minister where she played the smart and kind Lu Zhen. She made her break-through in the entertainment industry with that drama and it earned her recognition and many awards including the Most Popular Actress award from Tudou and LeTV, Best Actress award from Anhui TV Dramas Awards, and the prestigious Golden Eagle Goddess award from the 10th China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival.
2014 – Wife’s Secrets (妻子的秘密) and Boss & Me/Shan Shan Comes to Eat (杉杉来吃)
She solidified her popularity with two more successful dramas in 2014 with Boss and Me as the adorable and gluttonous Shan Shan and Wife’s Secret as the gentle Jiang Bai Han.
Boss and Me, an adaption of Gu Man’s novel, was an instant hit. It achieved #1 in ratings throughout its run and garnered her many international fan bases. The drama also earned her the Most Popular Actress awards from both iQiYi All Star Carnival and Anhui’s TV Drama Awards.
2015 – Journey of Flower(花千骨), Best Get Going! (加油吧实习生), and Legend of Zu Mountain (蜀山战纪之剑侠传奇).
In 2015, Zhao Liying starred in the wuxia fantasy, The Journey of Flower, as the ill-fated Hua Qian Gu followed by the romantic comedy, Best Get Going, as the lovely Song Nuan and another wuxia fantasy drama, The Legend of Zu Mountain, as Yue Wuxin.
Though all three were well received, it was the release of The Journey of Flower that propelled Zhao Liying to a whole new level of popularity. That year alone, she won Most Popular Actress from iQiYi, Weibo Goddess, and Best Actress from Macau International Film Festival. And the awards continue on to 2016 with Weibo Queen, Most Popular Actress from Tencent Star Award and even now, she was nominated for the Golden Eagle Most Popular Actress Award because of The Journey of Flower
2016 – The Mystic Nine/Old Nine Gates(老九门), Legend of Chusen/Zhu Xian(青云志), and Rookie Agent Rouge(胭脂)
Her drama streak continues onto 2016, where she released 3 well-rated dramas: The Mystic Nine, Legend of Chusen, and Rookie Agent Rouge. Though she had a guest role in the drama Mystic Nine, her appearance in the drama coupled with William Chan helped boosted the ratings and viewership drastically.
2017 – Princess Agents (特工皇妃楚乔传)
Currently, she is filming Princess Agents where she will play the woman general, Chu Qiao. The drama is one of the most highly anticipated dramas of 2017 starring her, Lin Gengxin, and Shawn Dou.
Zhao Liying’s Movie Timeline
2013 – Palace《宫锁沉香》
Film-wise, she doesn’t have a lot. The most notable is Palace (2013) where she played the antagonist Liu Li. From the sweet and innocent image audiences are used to seeing in Lu Zhen and Shan Shan, Zhao Liying did a 360 for this role! This film further accentuated her acting skill proving that she is not locked to a certain sweet and innocent role only.
2015 – Crazy New Year’s Eve 《一路惊喜》
2016 – Royal Treasure (极限挑战之皇家宝藏), The Rise of a Tomboy (女汉子完美恋人) and Days of Our Own (我们的十年)
In The Rise of a Tomboy, she played He Xiuwu who is a tough-nerd-lady that believes love can be calculated through an equation. She was, once again, reunited with Zhang Han from Boss and Me and undeniably, their chemistry was still there
Her most recent film, Days of Our Own, was released on the 2nd of September. She played Zhang Jingyi. Though not that well received, Days of Our Own was a perfect release to celebrate her 10th year in the entertainment industry.
2017 – Eternal Wave 《新永不消逝的电波》
In 2016 it was announced that Zhao Liying will star in Eternal Wave along with Aaron Kwok, and Zhang Han. This is a highly anticipated film that is set to release sometime in 2017.
Even without formal training in acting, Zhao Liying had found a way to interpret and embody the characters she played and that is the reason why the characters she played are unique. She has improved as an actress throughout the years. And although she might not be considered the best actress in the c-entertainment industry, she is definitely one of the more well-received. Most of her dramas are well-rated with high viewership rates and because of that, she is one of the most sought-after actresses in the industry (and the highest paid TV actress right now!)
Zhao Liying had put in tremendous works in the past 10 years and continuously released dramas after dramas and films after films. With so many successful dramas and films under her belt, she has definitely proven herself as an actress. Her success and popularity is recognized and supported by 42 million followers on Weibo, national and international fan bases worldwide, numerous awards and trophies, and now with the addition of a wax figure in Madame Tussauds Beijing which will be available in 2017!
In addition to acting, Zhao Liying also sang for many of her dramas and movies. You can find more info here on her singing.
Zhao Liying’s Personal Life
Zhao Liying was born in a small village in LangFang, Hebei where her family farms for a living. She also graduated from Langfang School of Electronic Information Engineering. In mid-2016, it was discovered that she helped paved the big roads in her hometown which usually get flooded due to rain. Though a small gesture, it helped many of the old villagers who lived there tremendously! Because of her kindness, she was invited to be the spokesperson for her province in September 2016.
Since 2014, Zhao Liying had participated in many charity events where she either donated money and/or was personally involved in the event. The picture above was taken back in 2015 where she helped establish an elementary school for elementary school students. She not only donated school supplies but was also there to teach these kids.
Personality wise, Zhao Liying is a very private person and a little introverted. According to the Jinxing Show, she prefers to rest at home and clean. She doesn’t talk much about her family and her circle of friends are “normal” people who are not part of the industry. She once mentioned that it takes her a while to open up to people, but once she does, she is very loyal to them. She has a very straight forward personality and speaks her mind without a filter. Hence, the nickname, Zhao Xiaodao (赵小刀), and that personality has attracted both fans and antis. Perhaps because of that, she doesn’t do many variety shows. Up Idol was one where she was a permanent cast and Happy Camp is another that she appeared on most often.
Even so, she is well loved by her fans. To them/us, she is forever the dazed Zhao Liying who likes to eat!
How did we come to become a fan of Zhao Liying?
With every drama and film Zhao Liying releases, she slowly crept into our heart and converted us into a firefly (her fan club’s name) . Therefore on this special day we want to wish her a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY birthday (生日快快快乐） and share with you all how we came to discover her charms. And of course we would love to hear how you came to discover her too!!
Chexmix: Personally, I like that straight-forward-speak-your-mind personality of Zhao Liying. I first noticed her on the variety show, Up Idol, where she constantly “stabbed” people with her words. It was entertaining and refreshing. Especially in an industry where everyone is so mindful of their words and actions. Because of her, I started watching The Journey of Flower. Though it wasn’t one of my favorites, it did led me to watch Boss and Me and that converted me! I started marathoning her dramas starting with Female Prime Minister, then Legend of Zu Mountain and then, the Mystic Nine, and then Legend of Chusen and now Rookie Agent Rouge. Because of her I ditched K-drama and returned to C-dramaland and joined this blog community! =D
Victaorious: I vaguely remember watching Female Prime Minister, and knew of her. Last summer, I came upon The Journey of Flower and fell in love with her (and the drama). I was a bit obsessed! But, the first drama that I ever finished of hers was Boss & Me. I LOVED that drama (especially Zhao Liying as Shan Shan). After watching that, I saw Cuo Dian Yuan Yang. And became obsessed with her. Even though this drama wasn’t all that successful, it’s probably one of my favourite dramas. It also made me love her so much more. Because of her, I watched the Mystic Nine (only her parts though). I enjoyed it, but I haven’t seen Legend of Chusen yet. Right now, I’m watching Rookie Agent Rouge and am loving it! I mainly watch dramas for her. Before I saw her dramas, I didn’t really watch any dramas or follow C-entertainment. Now, I keep up with C-entertainment because of Zhao Liying and Huang Zitao (my two biases). Also, the reasons why I blog. I like that she only got famous after many years of hard work. Her work ethic is inspiring. So, I hope that she has the best birthday (at the Golden Eagle Awards) and find the love of her life soon!
fireflymaoh: I discovered Zhao Liying while watching Female Prime Minister. She left a really good impression, but I didn’t follow her closely until I saw Boss & Me, which I loved. After Boss & Me, I decided to watch some of her other works. I saw The Palace and I was super impressed with how she played a villain. It was so different from her previous roles and she even had some racy scenes, but she pulled it off so well. That sold me on her acting abilities. I started to read more about her and casually follow her activities. Then, I became obsessed with Journey of Flower. Now, I pretty much watch all her main works since she never lets me down. I find her story of working herself up in the entertainment business without any connections really inspirational. She is where she is entirely due to her hard work and perseverance. She is the main reason I follow Chinese entertainment since I want to keep up with her news. I hope she has a great birthday and that this year is just full of happiness.
lizzieyen: I first saw ZLY in the Legend of Lu Zhen in 2014. That was my second c-drama after the Legend of Zhen Huan and I have been a fan ever since! It definitely confirmed to me the vastness of talent and improvement in script and cinematography of c-drama. I was impressed how she interpreted the role – feisty, courageous and smart without abandoning her femininity but yet not crazy-in-love-all-the-time. That’s something I feel lacking in Hollywood dramas for strong female characters – except for a few (Kyra Sedgwick in a Closer or Keri Russell in the Americans, Gina Torres in Suits), smart strong women are always portrayed as so flawed in matters of the heart as if that weakness makes them whole. I fail to see how that can be used as a role model for young girls – particularly since I now have a young daughter (who was only 2 in 2014) – being quirky aka Ally McBeal or Carrie a Bradshaw may be interesting, but it should never be celebrated as a strength! I loved how Lu Zhen is flawed in many ways too (arrogant and self-righteous), but she doesn’t completely lose herself over a man. Yes, he can be the love of your life, but he is not your everything. Her next show for me was Shan Shan Comes to Eat and I became a firm fan. Her Shan Shan may be cute and not the smartest around, but she made herself a better person – initially for him, but ultimately for herself. Shan Shan is a role that could have turned out all aegyo without substance, but ZLY did so well that one can see her growth as a character – she loved herself as much as she loved Feng Teng. That’s true feminism and female courage!
archidisign: I first discovered her in 2012 while watching Cuo Dian Yuan Yang. At the time, I was just a casual Chinese drama watcher and really liked the 10-20minutes trailer for CDYY. Hence, I watched the show as it aired and instantly got hooked to Zhao Liying’s amazing talent. I didn’t pay much attention to her afterwards, until in 2014 when I watched Legend of Lu Zhen where I totally shipped her with her OTP of the time, Chen Xiao. That’s when I discovered many cdrama blogs online. From there, I watched Boss & Me in 2015 and it sealed the deal for me: all ZLY dramas are 100% Gold. She is SO TALENTED and inspiring. In late 2015, when I started blogging, I made it a priority to watch all her projects: Hua Qian Gu, Best Get Going, Up Idol, Lucky Tianbao, The Mystic Nine, etc. Over the years, she blessed me with so much joy in dramaland and gave me inspiration to be a hard worker in everything I do. Without even realizing, I became a hardcore fan of hers and I am so happy I did. She made blogging a lot more enjoyable for me and I was able to make many friends on and off-line. On this special day, I want to wish her a happy birthday and to find her Mr.Right (keuf William Chen keuf)!
Another video of Zhao Liying’s roles thus far: http://zx.sina.cn/e/2016-10-10/zx-ifxwrhpm2839457.d.html?vt=4&wm=3049_0018
Happy Birthday to Zhao Liying!