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Tears, fears and a burning desire to succeed

By Du Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-21 07:51

Wu Wanshan, from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, is one of 38,000 students who applied to enroll at the Beijing Film Academy, one of the cradles of China's performing arts, this year.

Having finished the preliminary test at the academy on a cold, windy February morning, the 17-year-old felt that she had acquitted herself well, but remained noncommittal.
Tears, fears and a burning desire to succeed
Wu Wanshan
"I don't want to think about the result right now because I still have another seven or eight tests at different performing arts schools," she said. "I don't want to ruin my confidence by thinking about possible failure."

Like most of the applicants, Wu is good-looking and has an engaging smile. They will all have to travel widely this month, attending schools in different cities to improve their chances of gaining admission to a performing arts course and becoming a fully fledged actor or actress in the future.

The financial cost is high. Wu expects to spend approximately 100,000 yuan ($14,560) on preparations, test fees and travel during the selection process.

"My family is very supportive. They want me to focus on realizing my dream through my own efforts, and not to have to worry about money," she said.

Wu, who has wanted to be an actress since an early age, has the ability to burst into tears on request, which she believes indicates her control of emotions.

"The best part of being an actress, and the reason I chose to pursue this path, is that I can experience different lives through acting," she said. "I hope I will play roles that are very different from my own personality-for example, evil or twisted characters."

Although many film and TV stars are reported to make billions or at least millions when they become famous, Wu is not aiming to become a star in the accepted sense.

"I just want to be a good, working actress," she said.

Her idol is Tang Wei, a Chinese actress who became famous after appearing in the 2007 movie Lust, Caution, which was directed by Ang Lee, who was also at the helm of the international box office hit, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The film brought Tang widespread fame, but the sex scenes in the movie resulted in an official media ban in China in 2008. Undaunted, Tang continued her career by studying overseas and acting in non-Chinese movies until the ban was rescinded in 2010.

Wu admires the courage Tang showed in sticking with her dream and refusing to give up, irrespective of the obstacles in her path.

"I believe that being an actress requires a huge amount of perseverance," she said.

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