Actress Zhao Wei arrives for the opening ceremony of the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival on June 13, 2009 at the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai, China.
Zhao Wei used to attach little importance to how she appeared off-screen, letting her TV and film work speak for her. But now the actress has learned to take care of her image, as Michelle Zhang reports.
Fame came quickly for Zhao Wei. In 1998, the actress became a household name almost overnight for her leading role in the popular TV series, "Huan Zhu Ge Ge" (Princess Returning Pearl). She has remained as one of the most successful Chinese actresses ever since.
Zhao was in Shanghai recently for the launch of a new line of cosmetics and despite an unexpected storm which erupted when Zhao was supposed to show up, her loyal fans chose to wait in the heavy rain for more than an hour.
"I'm very grateful and touched by my fans," she said. "For more than 10 years, they have always been there for me, accompanying me to get through all the ups and downs in my life."
Zhao is easygoing, relaxed and approachable. She cares about people around her, smiling at everyone, listening carefully to "boring" questions and responding accordingly.
It was hard to relate the slender figure to the roles she has portrayed on screen lately, most of which are linked with yellow sands, battle horses and combat, such as Hua Mulan in "Mulan" and Sun Shangxiang in "Red Cliff" -- both are wartime heroines in ancient Chinese tales.
Zhao described "Mulan," which is scheduled to hit the big screen in December, as "the toughest film I have ever worked with."