Sino Celeb is a monthly feature where we introduce a Chinese celebrity to our readers.
For a long time, Chinese audiences have celebrated ‘xiaoxianrou’(小鲜肉) or ‘little fresh meat,’ young men with soft features, who are often criticized for being shallow – all pretty faces but no real acting skills.
Then, Huang Xuan, a man of true talent who draws from a wealth of real life experience, stepped into the fray to challenge the stereotype.
The 33-year-old Gansu-born actor moved to Guangzhou with his divorced mother at the age of 12. The craze around Michael Jackson at that time led him to pursue formal dance training at Guangdong Dance and Drama College and later, in Beijing, where he got his first ill-fated shot at the big screen.
Huang’s would-be breakout role was that of a young Tang Dynasty prince in renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). Though selected in the audition, Xuan was cut from the casting list at the last moment in favor of another promising actor. In a strange twist, he was asked to perform as a backup dancer with his classmates on the movie’s opening night.
After years of wallowing in the gloom of repeated setbacks, Huang rightfully received his place in the spotlight in 2014 for his portrayal of a blind masseur in Blind Massage.
Since then, he’s delivered killer performances on every screenplay that he gets his hands on. He’s played a faithful ancient politician, a selflessly devoted worker in China’s 1960s, a military general in The Great Wall (2016) and a sophisticated young emperor in Tribes and Empires, the so-called Chinese Games of Thrones.
While Huang is a malleable actor who has played many roles, fans love him for the consistent trait he brings to every character: a deep-hidden sense of aggrieved suffering combined with a warrior’s heart that will fight like hell to set things right.
Kind of like: Adrien Brody
Famous for: melancholic good looks and sad-boy charm
See him in: Youth (2017)
For more Sino Celeb, click here.