Zhang Ziyi was born to a working-class family on February 9, 1979, in Beijing, China.
Early on Zhang pursued interests in dance and gymnastics. At age 11, she was accepted into a secondary school affiliated with the prestigious Beijing Dancing College. While she picked up some awards, she became frustrated with the pressures.
At 15, Zhang opted to become an actress instead and enrolled in Beijing’s acclaimed Central Drama Academy. Four years later, she auditioned for a shampoo commercial by China’s renowned director Zhang Yimou, who used the advertisement as a way to screen actresses for his upcoming film, The Road Home. The veteran director cast her for the lead, the role of a young, rural schoolgirl in love with a schoolteacher.
In 2000, Zhang landed a high-profile part as the headstrong Jen Yu in Ang Lee’s phenomenally successful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The role earned Zhang the Independent Spirit’s Best Supporting Actress Award and the Toronto Film Critics’… read more