Child stars face challenges as opportunities grow

By Xu Fan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-10-13 09:29:49

Child stars face challenges as opportunities grow

Chen Yunze, 11, is among the child stars popular in China's bustling entertainment business.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The daily demands of acting and reading scripts interrupt the boy's education-a common dilemma for child and teenager stars-but the father has recruited tutors to teach his son in the absence of school.

"We need to protect him," he says. For now, the family's solution is to watch the child actor alertly-all the time.

Beijing has four hotels-all located in Chaoyang district-widely used by low-budget films or television series as hubs to recruit performers. Piao Hotel Inn on the West Dawang Road is perhaps the busiest in the business.

"The first time I visited it, I was shocked," says Wang Yubin, marketing head of the agency

He found that most of the hotel's rooms were occupied by role-selecting directors or deputy producers, with the doors cluttered with ads with the titles and demands for various productions.

The former publisher watched directors and producers smoking and playing cards while parents taking their children to knock on doors to make a pitch, he says.

Zhang Xiao'en, a 36-year-old agent for child stars, says the number of such youngsters between 3 and 15 years old has expanded rapidly thanks to the country's burgeoning entertainment industry.

Even so, only a handful of eager young wannabes will soar to stardom. China's celebrity list is studded with adults; child stars are comparatively scarce.

Successful ones include Wu Lei, known as the "dumb swordsman" in the hit series Nirvana in Fire, and Guan Xiaotong, who shot to fame in Chen Kaige's directorial fantasy epic The Promise.

Some parents choose to take their children's screen achievements as a light chapter of life.

Jiang Wenjuan, a former entertainment reporter, let her 7-year-old daughter Chen Yunze sing with actress Zhang Ziyi in a CCTV gala celebrating the London Olympics in 2012. But Jiang didn't encourage her daughter to take part in more such activities.

"I don't want her simple childhood to become complicated," she says.

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