CCTV Culture Spotlight: Xiaozhan | An Idol’s Self-Cultivation

As soon as Xiaozhan appeared on the Spring Festival Gala stage, the audience began to cheer fervently; Xiaozhan’s popularity is evident.
The short skit “Like You, Like Me” starring Xiaozhan and Xie Na uses a fresh and simple style of acting to portray the concept of love for “Indoorsy Men and Women”. Based on the data, Xiaozhan is at the top of the most discussed ranking among actors on Spring Festival Gala.

As a currently famous young actor, Xiaozhan has his own “data”:
On Jan. 9, TMall data showed that Portrait Magazine with Xiaozhan on the cover sold 100,000 copies within 3 seconds; on Jan. 11, in “Weibo Night”, Xiaozhan topped the ranking with 380 million votes and was crowned “Weibo King” of 2019; when he’s featured on the cover of fashion magazines, the applications crashed continuously on the day of opening sale.


With this popularity, Xiaozhan maintains hard to come by composure, and just hopes to do his job well.


In 2019, Xiaozhan was labeled as having “shot to fame overnight” through his role as Wei Wuxian in The Untamed. In reality, Xiaozhan’s path has not been smooth sailing, he often says to interviewers: “I came from the bottom, so I’m not afraid to return to the bottom.”

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Xiaozhan Filmography

“Superstar Academy” – Fang Tianze
Filmed: 160415 to 160612
Aired: 160929


“Battle Through The Heavens” – Lin Xiuya
Filmed: 170116 to 170616
Aired: 180903


“The Wolf” – Ji Chong
Filmed: 170409 to 170917z
Aired: TBD


“Oh, My Emperor!” – Beitang Moran
Filmed: 170908 to 171108
Aired: 180425


“Joy of Life” – Yan Bingyun
Filmed: 180131 to 180810
Aired: 191126


“The Untamed” – Wei Wuxian
Filmed: 180416 to 180824
Aired: 190627


“Jade Dynasty” (Movie) – Zhang Xiaofan
Filmed: 181017 to 190119
Premiere: 190913

“Douluo Continent” – Tang San
Filmed: 181227 to 190703
Aired: TBD


“The Oath of Love” – Gu Wei
Filmed: 190811 to 191106
Aired: TBD

Guest Appearances / Cameos

“Love Weaves Through a Millennium 2”Aired: 161116
“Monster Hunt 2”Aired: 180216
“The Rookies”Aired: 180712

Harper’s Bazaar Cover Story: Dreams Into Reality

In the past year, Xiaozhan can only describe some of what happened as “like a dream”.

In his graduation year, he started a studio with friends. He was the main photographer, and Chen Man was his idol. “We studied Man-jie’s work together, to see how she uses exposure, how she edits to achieve special effects.” And in this moment, he’s standing before Chen Man’s lens, doing a photoshoot for the cover of “Harper’s Bazaar”.

“I’m so nervous!” His bambi eyes sparkled, “Man-jie created her own unique aesthetic style, it’s still a familiar feeling to see the composition of a photographer I knew of when I worked as a designer, but now I’m the subject myself.”

As he said this, he took a deep breath, and his gaze fell upon an undefined point in the distance. The corners of his mouth turned upwards, “That’s dreams turning into reality.”

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Xiaozhan Discography

2018

“Stepping On Shadows” 《踩影子》 – Apr. 28, 2018
OST for Oh! My Emperor drama

“Satisfied” 《满足》 – Oct. 05, 2018
Reward for top album sales in the group

2019

“The Untamed” 《无羁》 – Jun. 27, 2019
OST for The Untamed drama

“A Song of My Heart” 《曲尽陈情》 – Jul. 22, 2019
OST for The Untamed drama, Wei Wuxian character song

Asking Youth 《问少年》 – Sep. 12, 2019
OST for Jade Dynasty movie

My Chinese Heart 《我的中国心》 – Oct. 4, 2019
Youths Singing for China Special Album

The Best Summer 《最好的夏天》 – Oct. 21, 2019
Youths Singing for China Special Album

Two Tigers 《两只老虎》 – Nov. 7, 2019
Promotional song for Two Tigers movie

Remaining Years 《余年》 – Nov. 26, 2019
OST for Joy of Life drama

Blue Sea Laughter 《沧海一声笑》 – Dec. 24, 2019
Theme song for The Smiling, Proud Wanderer Mobile Game

Harper’s Bazaar – Oct. 2019 Issue

Not the full article – snippets only

Q: In real life, are you also someone who likes an adventure?
Xiaozhan: Yes, you could say that.
Q: Does it excite you more if you don’t know the end results for a lot of things?
Xiaozhan: In life, if many things already have a certain result, then you ask me to do these things, there might be less novelty and uncertainty along the way. I prefer to not know the result; I can take any path and the destination is all different, that gets me more excited.
Q: So in your imagination, Abu Dhabi fits with your sense of the unknown?
Xiaozhan: Yes. It’s like a mysterious, unknown land to me. I can explore, and there’s endless treasures.

Xiaozhan says he’s not a brave person, but life makes it so he has to be brave, because only by being brave can he face all the unforeseen problems on this journey.

After The Untamed, a lot of people felt that Xiaozhan was more outgoing than before, and had more to say. Before he was a little reserved around strangers, but now he communicates with people with a proactive attitude, and in hopes of gaining more knowledge and information from the conversations.

His role not only brought him more attention, but he also gained strength and growth from the role itself.

As for plans for the future, he smiled and said that he hasn’t decided. But he loves to act, and he hopes that he can continue on the path to becoming a good actor, resolving one problem at a time and becoming braver and stronger. He says it’s not just him, a lot of his friends and young adults around him are all like that – they’re not afraid of the hardships in life’s path and become stronger and firmer along the way.

“Life has led you to this point, so just continue to walk forward with resolve. Because a lot of problems are what others who took this path have faced before, and what you will continue to face as you will also be back and forth on this path.”

Since the first script reading, Xiaozhan constantly reminded himself, “I’m Wei Wuxian, I’m Wei Wuxian, I’m lively and talkative and loveable.”

Even if that day you’re in the worst mood, if you’re going through dark times in your life, once you arrive on set, stand in front of the camera and the director yells action, from that moment you’re not yourself anymore.

Xiaozhan smiled and said, “It’s so cruel, but that’s an actor’s job.”

Xiaozhan’s father once said, “No one will just love you for no reason. If you want people to love you, you need to treasure their love.” Xiaozhan firmly believes that.

When he was young, Xiaozhan liked Stefanie Sun. He went to her concerts and fansigns. Xiaozhan just hoped he can see her from afar, see her shine on stage, lose himself in her songs, and learn from her to become better, eventually becoming a star that shines brightly in other people’s eyes. Xiaozhan says in his age, that was how people followed celebrities. Idols were really idols; they were a source of self-motivation. He treasures the love that fans have for him, and he never rejections “internet popularity”, which a lot of people shy away from discussing.

“You think internet popularity is bad, right? You think it’s a negative term? I think it’s a pretty good thing, because to me “internet popularity” means more people will come to know you, love you, and I think that’s a good thing. At least I don’t think anyone can always have massive internet popularity, the important thing is how to deal with it and face this popularity, and let it become motivation for yourself to move forward, I think that’s important.”

He hopes to turn the love of his fans into motivation for himself to move forward. An actor can quickly gain fame and attention from a popular drama, but acting itself needs professional study and accumulation.

Xiaozhan’s favorite actress is Zhou Xun. When he talked about her, Xiaozhan’s tone sounded like that of a “fanboy”: “I don’t know how she was able to become the way she is today.” our answer was simple; time and talent. You can’t be missing either one. Talent allows you to show your ability as an actor and when fate allows for it, you can seize the opportunities that come your way at certain points in your life. And time is what sharpens the knife, every minute, every second you spend on professional development will be reflected in your future performances.

“There are no small roles, only small actors.” Keep in mind your initial aspiration and determination, and work your best at your profession. Continue to plow through this field, and you will eventually come across a piece of land that belongs to you.

Xiaozhan said, “In this era of fleeting popularity, continuing to stay true to myself and being as real as possible, I think that’s the ultimate goal. But it’s also so, so difficult.”

We wish him the best.

*Internet popularity (流量) is more literally like online traffic, it is often used with a negative connotation for celebrities who have a large following, especially online, but do not necessarily have skills to back up that fame. Xiaozhan is saying that he takes that at face value – as love and attention he receives which he will work to live up to through effort and improving his skills.

Cosmo Jun. 2019 (Excerpt)

Not the full article – just one snippet

“She wrote me a letter and said she got married…” he widened his pretty eyes, as if this was touching and hard to believe. “She watched me on the survival show and liked me ever since then. Now she’s met her other half in life, got married, and she’s happy. Wow, this feels really great!”

That day he read this letter from his fan, that feeling of “companionship” was like the letter he held onto tightly – it became clear and tangible.

So even now, Xiaozhan thinks that fans are very much like his childhood friends. “In those times, we had a whole neighborhood of children, and after school we’d write our homework together, play together, and grow up together.” He raised his hand to gesture, and his smile is blinding, “now those friends’ children are already this tall.” As he lowered his hand, a gentle breeze passed over him.

Secret Garden 17.04.01

I’m here, I always say to not stay up late but I’m always breaking that rule myself. Today we arrived in Shanghai for the first rehearsal. It would be a lie to say that I’m not nervous, I’m nervous because I don’t want to disappoint you guys, so I’ll do my best!

I see lately that you guys have a lot of worries!

Don’t argue with your parents, the older you get the more you’ll understand how important they are to you!

As for other people’s misunderstandings and assumptions, the world is big, and the eternal rule is that for however many people who like you, there will be people who dislike you; in their eyes nothing you do is right, so why do you just be yourself, and the people who like you will love you even more? Your heart’s filter will level up!

Important: rehearsal will end very late!! Don’t stand outside and wait! Hurry and go home, what if you get sick and can’t fly! Bad plan!

I really miss the Xiaozhan who can meet with you guys on stage. Soon; see you on 4.2.

Love you guys, goodnight.

Zhan!

Secret Garden 18.04.08

I always wanted to write something, but I have the same old problem, I don’t know where to start…

Before I saw you guys saying that I don’t really like to share my life. Umm, how do I say it, it’s not that I don’t like to share, but I’m just worried that once I share it you guys will think it’s boring… I don’t like to leave my house, if I’m not working I’m just reading, watching movies, or exercising.

As for Jianguo, Jianguo that child is a munchkin cat and has a weak immune system, I want her to get healthy first before meeting with everyone (because of work I can’t take care of her very well so I had to send her home and have my parents take care of her). Haha don’t you think that’s boring… Sometimes I want to share some movies and books but then I wonder if you guys will really want to read it, so I stop thinking about it…

Every time we see each other at official events I can see some familiar faces or familiar social media IDs, and I feel a sense of warmth. From the beginning until now, time has passed very quickly and surely, but all of you guys are still here, on that bus which we promised is heading towards the future, so how I can just stay in the same place?

I keep thinking that I’m’ not a child anymore, every little thing I tell you guys I want to do it in a complete, even perfect fashion; I don’t want you guys to think too much or worry. That won’t change from now on, I just hope that I can sooner share more of myself with you guys.

I will definitely work hard so that when other people ask you who you like, you can proudly say, “It’s Xiaozhan!”