C-Drama Powerhouse: The Myth Behind the Acting Prowess of Asia's Hottest Actresses

C-drama celebrities are known internationally with their top-level acting skills. May it be contemporary romance, spy-thriller, horror or period drama, acting-wise they are the cream of the crop, they excel in practically almost every genre.

Is there a myth behind their acting prowess?

Well, let's get to know them better and discover their educational background. I have picked five of mainland China's hottest and most celebrated actresses. 

Asianovela fandom might never agree with this narrative, especially those who have not watched television series from China, but for the past 10 years that I blended my television series watch-list, Thai-Korean-Chinese-Taiwanese, I have noticed that C-drama performers are often the best in the acting department.

They delivered the best in character internalization, mastery of emotion, in-depth dialogue, and apart from it, they can also sing, and possessed an awesome martial arts skill. 

So why they exude such depth acting prowess? 

It could be the training and exposure to performing arts and drama. Like most of K-drama actors and actresses, Chinese stars also gone to acting/drama schools. 

The globally-competitive C-Entertainment Industry

Film and television industries in China are very competitive. Their screening and selection are considered the toughest in the Asian region. And yes, they seem required celebrities to be skilled in martial arts. 

Not surprising. The most lucrative deals in the film and television production in China are in the historical, often called costume, drama - mostly wuxia and xianxia genres, which required performers to do martial arts stunts.

Most of these C-drama celebrities have acting degrees from Asia's most prestigious drama and film schools: Central Drama Academy, Beijing Film Academy and Shanghai Theatre Academy. 

In 2020 World University Ranking, Beijing Film Academy is included in the top 20 best film schools in the world and thereby considered as the best film school in Asia. 


Here are the hottest and most popular C-drama actresses, renowned internationally with  their acting skill and singing power. They also possessed extremely beautiful faces. And all of them obtained an acting degree from Asia's top-level drama schools.

5. Li Bingbing 

One of China's finest actresses who made it to Hollywood, Li Bingbing made her acting debut in 1994 but it was not until 1999 that the public began noticing her acting skill via the film, Seventeen Years. which earned her the Best Actress award in the Singapore Film Festival.

Li Bingbing

She then took variety of roles in film and TV series, mostly in wuxia genres, for the succeeding years.  In 2008, she starred in Linger, the film debut of Taiwanese actor, Vic Zhou (Hua Ze Lei of Meteor Garden).

Her first foray into the Hollywood film industry was in the 2008 blockbuster film - The Forbidden Kingdom opposite Jacky Chan and Jet Li where she plays Ni-Chang. 

Li Bingbing as Ni-Chang in The Forbidden Kingdom, a wuxia film

She started to gain attention in the international scene when she starred in other Hollywood films: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), and The Meg (2018), a science-fiction film that also starred Jason Statham.

Li Bingbing and Jason Statham in The Meg

However, Li Bingbing concentrated in making films and has not starred in any C-drama series since 2006. She was born on February 27, 1973 in Wuchang, Heilongjiang, China.

She studied Performing Arts at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. And as of 2021, Li admitted she is still single. Li Bingbing is also a singer and luxury brand ambassador.

4. Fan Bingbing

Fan Bingbing is a multi-awarded Chinese actress, singer, producer and model. She obtained an acting degree from the Shanghai Theatre Academy and has been named one of mainland China's highest-paid actresses according to Forbes China Celebrity 100.

Fan Bingbing

She is immensely popular in China and considered one of its bankable stars. She also barged into the Hollywood film industry, and has been named one of the global fashion icons.

She shot to fame in Asia when she starred in a massively popular television historical drama, My Fair Princess (1998), and since then, she has starred in a dozen of films and TV series which made her popular even more. 

Fan Bingbing as Blink in X-Men

She made name in Hollywood when she starred in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) where she played Blink (Clarice Ferguson). Her upcoming Hollywood film, 355, a spy-thriller film that will also star Penelope Cruz, will be released in early 2022.

In 2017, Fan Bingbing was honored as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. 

Catch her in The Empress of China and The Legend of Ba Qing, also known as Win The World, both wuxia television series.
Fan Bingbing will return in the American spy-thriller 355 to be released in 2022

Fan Bingbing was born on September 16, 1981 in Shandong province, China. In 2017, she was engaged to Li Chen, a Chinese actor and director, but they broke up two years later, in 2019. 

Fan Bingbing is still single up to these days.

3. Yang Mi

It's no doubt that in the present days of C-drama, Yang Mi is one of the most popular and recognizable actresses. She was named one of the "Four Dan Actresses" in 2009. A term used to describe bankable actresses from mainland China.

Yang Mi

Born on September 12, 1986 in the Xuanwu district of Beijing, Yang Mi made her acting debut in 1990 at only four years old. 

She has starred in a number of historical TV series that became trending throughout the Asian region, most notably Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossom and Legend of Fu Yao.

Yang Mi in Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms

She later received recognition for her leading roles in television series: Chinese Paladin (2009), Beijing Love Story (2011), Swords of Legends (2014), The Interpreter (2016), and films: Mysterious Island (2011), The Witness (2015), Reset (2017), a science fiction thriller produced by Jacky Chan, where she won Best Actress award at the WorldFest Houston International Festival in Houston, Texas.

Yang Mi in Legend of Fu Yao

Yang Mi is also a singer and model. She obtained a drama degree from the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. She is also a producer and has a talent agency called Jay Walk studio, the talent agency of C-drama hottest actors and actresses today: Dilraba Dilmurat, Zhu Xudan, Vin Zhang, Lai Yi, Vengo Gao.

Yang Mi married Hongkong actor, Hawick Lau, in 2014 in Bali, Indonesia and gave birth to a daughter in 2015. However, in 2018, they got divorced.

2. Dilraba Dilmurat

She is dubbed as "Mainland China's current hottest young actress". Dilraba, also known as Dilireba, is the most in-demand actress recently for a costume drama 

If there's one thing you will surely admire about this extremely beautiful "Chinese  actress who does not look like Chinese", its her ability to speak  at least five languages - Mandarin, English, Uyghur (Turk language), Russian and Thai.

Dilraba Dilmurat is of Uyghur descent

Many people call her "China's hottest actress today who does not look Chinese". It is because Dilraba is of Uyghur descent (a Chinese ethnic minority living in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China, closer to Central Asia). 

This explains why she looked more western than oriental. 

Born on June 3, 1992 in Urumqi, Xinjiang region, Dilraba Dilmurat obtained a Bachelor Arts degree in Performing Arts/Acting at the prestigious Shanghai Theatre Academy.

Dilraba is so pretty in costume drama

She was introduced in Anarhan, a TV series in 2013 that earned her acting nominations and awards. She then starred in a number of TV drama: Diamond Lover (2014), Pretty Li Huizhen (2017), Swords of Legends (2014), Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (2014), The Flame's Daughter (2018), The King's Woman (2019), Eternal Love of Dream (2020), The Long Ballad (2021).

Vic Zhou as Yin Xue and Dilraba as Rugue in The Flame's Daughter

Due to her popularity in C-drama and as China's hottest brand endorser, Dilraba was awarded with Golden Eagle Goddess accolade in 2020 by China Television's Golden Eagle Art Awards where she also won Most Popular Actress and Audience Favorite Actress award.

China Forbes Celebrity 100 List named her one of the country's top 10 Most Influential Celebrities.

Dilraba and Vin Zhang (also known as Zhang Binbin) in The King's Woman 

Dilraba is also a model, dancer and singer. She sang most of the theme songs of her television series. One of her most endearing soundtrack performances in a series is "Yu Huo Sheng Si", ending theme song of  The Flame's Daughter.

Her rising popularity is attributed to her notable roles in wuxia and xianxia series: Eternal Love: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, Eternal Love of Dream, the sequel of Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, The Flame's Daughter, The Long Ballad, The King's Woman.

For those asking about Dilraba's love life, she is still single and has not currently dating anyone.

1. Liu Yifei

Known internationally as Crystal Liu, Liu Yifei is one of the "Four Dan Actresses in China" in 2009, a term refers to China's four bankable actresses.  

Liu Yifei known internationally as Crystal Liu

Liu Yifei is a versatile actress, singer and model who also a brand ambassador of high profile international luxury brands and fashion houses like Garnier, Adidas, Armani and Dior. 

She was born on August 25, 1987 in Wuhan, China to a French professor father and an artist mother. When she was 10 years old, her parents divorced, she and her mother moved to New York City and became American citizens.

Liu Yifei as Golden Sparrow in The Forbidden Kingdom

In 2002, Liu moved back to China to be an actress. She studied performing arts at the Beijing Film Academy. Her entry to Asia's best film school paved her way to penetrate the entertainment industry in a shortest period of time. 

She first starred in a C-drama series, The Story of a Noble Family, in 2004.

Due to her pretty face and popularity, she became widely known in China as "Fairy-sister". Liu's last appearance in a TV series was through "The Return of Condor Heroes" in 2006. She has concentrated in making films.

In 2008, she made her international film debut via The Forbidden Kingdom opposite Asia's greatest martial arts heroes, Jacky Chan and Jet Li. She portrayed Golden Sparrow in the film, as a love interest of Michael Angarano, the American lead in the film. She then starred opposite Nicholas Cage in The Outcast. 

Her greatest international break however is in Disney's first live action film, Mulan, in 2020 where she also sang the movie's soundtrack, Reflection. 

According to press releases, Mulan's production team had traveled around the world to stage an audition in search for the lead role in Mulan, but after skimming more than 1,000 actresses worldwide who auditioned for the role.

The production team picked Liu Yifei because of two main reasons, she can fluently speak English, and she has martial arts skill. In an interview, Liu Yifei revealed she did 90% of her martial arts stunt in Mulan. Amazing! 

Liu Yifei as Mulan

On a personal level, it has been reported that she was in a long-term relationship with South Korean model and actor, Song Seung-Heon, known for his roles in Autumn In My Heart (2000), Black (2017) and Dinner Mate (2020), whom she met while filming, The Third Way of Love (2013).

However, in 2018, both their talent agencies have confirmed their break-up. stating the two have grown apart due to their long distance setup.

Liu Yifei is extremely private with her personal life but she looks like not dating anyone currently.

The Myth of C-drama actresses' high caliber acting skill

Actually, it's not really a myth. The film and television industries in China have long been touted to have a very competitive talent selection. 

In its history, only fewest cases that there are actors and actresses who did not earn an acting degree from the country's premier film and drama schools: Central Academy of Drama, Beijing Film Academy and Shanghai Theatre Academy.

Most of its talents obtained an acting degree from these world-class film and theater arts schools.

Central Academy of Drama - Located in Beijing, it is the first theatre higher educational school in China and ranked as the best drama school in the country developed as a world-class art discipline school. 

Most of its alumni became popular performers in C-drama series and films. Central Academy of Drama is open to foreign students who wish to study acting.

Beijing Film Academy - a state-run higher institution of film school and the only film academy in China. It is Asia's most prestigious and largest school in film and television production studies, drama and performing arts. 

It earned international recognition for film production. Most of its alumni became big names in the film industry locally and internationally. It is open to foreign students.

It has been reported that attending film and drama studies at Beijing Film Academy is extremely difficult as it has a very competitive admission screening. It is one of the world's most globally competitive film and performing arts schools.

Shanghai Theatre Academy - A comprehensive public university in China focusing in theatre training studies, it has become one of the best performing arts of higher education in China, primarily located in Shanghai.

Its admission is open to foreign students but its very expensive tuition fees make you think twice attending this prestigious drama academy in Asia, a whopping Php1.2M a year. Whoaa!

So this explains why C-drama actors and actresses are globally-competitive when it comes to drama performances in films and TV series.

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