IN ON THE SHOOT

Ac­tress Yao Chen is the face of a photo con­test that aims to high­light Chi­nese peo­ple’s beauty. Xu Fan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

The ac­tress Yao Chen, whose fans of­ten liken her to An­gelina Jolie be­cause of her full lips and char­ity work, is among the most pop­u­lar celebri­ties on Sina Weibo, the Chi­nese equiv­a­lent of Twit­ter. Now she boasts a new role: pro­moter of cell­phone pho­tog­ra­phy.

Yao was the guest speaker at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a pho­tog­ra­phy con­test or­ga­nized by China Daily in its Bei­jing of­fice onMon­day.

She is the im­age am­bas­sador for the 2015 Amaz­ing China mo­bile phone photo com­pe­ti­tion, which re­quires ap­pli­cants to sub­mit their works to the news­pa­per from Aug 11 to Sept 12. The com­pe­ti­tion aims to en­cour­age­morepeo­pleto cap­ture the beauty of China on their cell­phones.

The ac­tress says she will use her online sta­tus to let more peo­ple know about the con­test and en­cour­age them to take more photos on their phones.

Yao, listed by Time mag­a­zine as one of the top 30 most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple on the In­ter­net this year, with 78 mil­lion fol­low­ers on the mi­cro blog, is ca­pa­ble of be­ing heard by at least one online user in eight as she com­ments on a wide range of top­ics, from avi­a­tion tragedies to her 2-year-old son to pho­tog­ra­phy. Her fans say they love her “care­free per­son­al­ity and self-mock­ing hu­mor”.

Yao’s hus­band, Cao Yu, the cin­e­matog­ra­pher be­hind the award­win­ning Kekex­ili: Moun­tain Pa­trol, per­suaded her to take on the job of pro­mot­ing the con­test.

“So you aren’t good at pho­tog­ra­phy, but at least you’re a beauty,” Yao, in a short white dress, teas­ing­lymim­ics her hus­band as telling her ear­lier.

The A-list ac­tress, 35, is more than just a pretty face.

Her ap­peal to the public to help the 7-year-old vic­tim of a car crash in 2012 was an­swered within hours of the post, gen­er­at­ing around 80,000 yuan ($12,700) from online users. She has also been a good­will am­bas­sador for the United Na­tions’ High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees since 2013.

Yao says that online con­tents cir­cu­lated by celebri­ties, es­pe­cially those re­lat­ing to char­ity, can raise public aware­ness.

“If you can be in­flu­en­tial on the In­ter­net, you should make good use of it.” says Yao has a “huge mar­ket­ing value”, which will help the films at the box of­fice.

Mon­ster, re­leased on July 16, has reaped 2.05 bil­lion yuan, mak­ing it the coun­try’s high­est-gross­ing home­made block­buster. Ac­cord­ing to some trade an­a­lysts, the film may even break the 2.4 bil­lion yuan record set by Fast and Fu­ri­ous 7, which has made the most money by a film on the Chi­nese mar­ket.

ButMon­ster had its share of prob­lems be­fore its de­but. One of its ac­tors, Kai Ko, was ar­rested on drug charges last year.

The Tai­wan star’s scenes from the film had to be deleted and reshot with another ac­tor fol­low­ing or­ders from the sec­tor’s reg­u­la­tor to bar such “tainted celebri­ties” from ap­pear­ing on film or TVscreens and ad­ver­tise­ments.

In the film, Yao plays a cook who makes “dishes out of mon­sters”, from Ja­panese-style sashimi to China’s steamed food. Many movie­go­ers have found her ex­ag­ger­ated per­for­mance with a di­alect from North­east China hi­lar­i­ous.

But comic roles no longer seem to be keep­ing up with Yao’s am­bi­tions.

Most of her pre­vi­ous screen roles were not well fleshed out, Yao says.

“I re­ally ex­pect some stu­dios to tai­lor a stronger, more com­plex char­ac­ter for me.” Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

ZHU XINGXIN /CHINA DAILY

Ac­tress Yao Chen at­tends the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Amaz­ing China mo­bile phone photo com­pe­ti­tion in Bei­jing on Mon­day.

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