Pop­u­lar TV ac­torHu Ge finds new pas­sion be­hind cam­era lens

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By LIU JING in Lon­don li­u­jing-4@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Hu Ge is no stranger to cam­eras.

The pop­u­lar ac­tor has starred in more than 14 TV se­riesandtwo movies. Nowthe 34-year-old, who also re­leased three al­bums dur­ing the past two years, has dis­cov­ered a new­role— be­hind the cam­era.

Hu’s pho­to­graphs, fea­tur­ing his home city, Shang­hai, in East China, are be­ing dis­played at an ex­hi­bi­tion in Lon­don through Satur­day.

As Shang­hai’s tourism am­bas­sador and a pas­sion­ate am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher, Hu was in­vited to take part in the Home·Town ex­hi­bi­tion at Lon­don’s Al­fred Dun­hill Bour­don House. It is one of a se­ries of ini­tia­tives to pro­mote the im­age of Shang­hai, Lon­don’s sis­ter city.

Hu is one of the most pop­u­lar stars in China with more than 48 mil­lion fol­low­ers on China’s Sina Weibo so­cial net­work. He is also among the high­est-paid stars in the coun­try. Last year, his three TV se­ries at­tracted more than 19 bil­lion on­line clicks.

He is re­ported to have signed up for more than 30 ad­ver­tise­ment cam­paigns in 2015 with a to­tal en­dorse­ment fee of more than 200 mil­lion yuan ($30 mil­lion).

The ex­hi­bi­tion show­cases art­works from in­vited artists from China and abroad. To cap­ture some panoramic view­sof the city, Hu­climbed to the top of Shang­hai Tower, more than 600 me­ters above the ground.

“The weather was not ideal and the tower was still un­der con­struc­tion,” says Hu. “But I was very glad to cap­ture a mo­ment of Shang­hai’s de­vel­op­ment process.”

Hu was ap­pointed as the tourism am­bas­sador of Shang­hai in Jan­uary.

“As a Shang­hai na­tive, I feel very lucky and hon­ored to be the am­bas­sador. I love the city and it is an op­por­tu­nity for me to fur­ther un­der­stand my home­town,” Hu tells China Daily. “It also means re­spon­si­bil­ity since I am­not only rep­re­sent­ingmy­self but also the city.”

It has long been a tra­di­tion for Shang­hai to pol­ish its brand with the help of celebri­ties from var­i­ous fields. For­mer NBA star Yao Ming and Olympic cham­pion hur­dler Liu Xiang, both Shang­hai na­tives, have been the city’s faces be­fore.

“If Yao Ming (2.29 me­ters tall) is Shang­hai’s height ( gaodu in Chi­nese) and Liu Xiang is Shang­hai’s speed ( sudu in Chi­nese), then I amShang­hai’s Baidu (the top search en­gine in China),” Hu quips.

“So while in Shang­hai we do have the pic­turesque Bund — a liv­ing ex­am­ple of Bri­tish and Western ar­chi­tec­ture — and top-class restau­rants and leisure, wealso have the old town with Shang­hai-style Shiku­men houses adorned with beau­ti­ful stone arches, and many in­ter­est­ing al­ley­ways full of arts and cul­ture that makemy home­town dy­namic,” Hu says.

Chen Jingxi, deputy direc­tor of the Shang­hai In­for­ma­tion Of­fice, says Hu was ap­pointed as the city’s am­bas­sador for be­ing an ex­am­ple of “pos­i­tive en­ergy”.

Born in Shang­hai’s Xuhui district in 1982, he was ad­mit­ted to the Shang­hai The­ater Acad­emy in 2001 and im­me­di­ately sky­rock­eted to star­dom in 2005 af­ter play­ing the lead ac­tor in Chi­nese Pal­adin, a TV se­ries based on a pop­u­lar role­play­ing game of the same name.

How­ever, a year later, Hu suf­fered a se­vere in­jury and dis­fig­ure­ment in a car ac­ci­dent, which killed his as­sis­tant. It took him about one year to re­cover and re­turn to the industry.

In 2015, Hu had an­other ca­reer boost thanks to the mega-hit TV drama Nir­vana in Fire. He won many awards at home and abroad for this role, among which is theMag­no­lia Award for best ac­tor at the 22nd Shang­hai TV Fes­ti­val.

The TV se­ries has been ex­ported to many coun­tries, in­clud­ing South Korea and Ja­pan.

When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of co­op­er­at­ing with for­eign di­rec­tors, he jok­ingly says that he wishes to have such op­por­tu­ni­ties but needs to im­prove his English first.

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