'Huawei Princess' stars in crime series

By Nhu Anh   February 26, 2024 | 11:01 pm PT
'Huawei Princess' stars in crime series
Annabel Yao, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, plays a policewoman in TV series “Lie Bing.” Photo from QQ
Chinese singer Annabel Yao, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has gained attention for her acting debut as the female lead in the TV series "Lie Bing."

Released on Feb. 21, the series, depicting a cat-and-mouse game between a policewoman and a drug lord in the 1990s at a chemical factory, has stirred discussions on social networks and movie forums, according to Sohu.

As the heiress of Huawei, Yao faced skepticism regarding her suitability for the role, with some suggesting that her background influenced her casting as the policewoman. Dubbed the "Princess of Huawei," she became a focal point of online discussions, with bloggers speculating that Huawei financially supported the TV series to promote Yao.

Director Gao Qunshu dismissed these rumors, emphasizing the low investment capital of "Lie Bing" and the need to adhere to a modest budget during filming. He explained that Yao was chosen for her authenticity, having not undergone plastic surgery or formal acting training.

Gao asserted that the series aimed for a documentary-style approach, focusing on authenticity and simplicity rather than melodrama, and Yao's lack of training worked to her advantage in portraying a police officer realistically.

Before assuming the role, Yao underwent training in martial arts, pronunciation, and crime-solving skills. Gao praised her strength, flexibility, and speed, noting that she even outpaced a stunt woman.

However, opinions on her performance varied on the Douban forum, with some criticizing her acting and pronunciation, while others admired her portrayal of intelligence and wit through the character.

Yao entered the entertainment industry in early 2021 after graduating from Harvard University with a degree in computer science. After releasing several music videos, her singing and dancing received underwhelming responses from both critics and audiences.

In early 2023, Yao played a supporting role in the TV series "Meet Yourself," earning positive reviews for her portrayal of innocence and simplicity in contrast to her earlier projects.

Sina, a Chinese web portal, praised her performance. On Chinese social network Weibo, she garnered thousands of compliments, particularly for her character's cuteness.

A Weibo user named Xiaolu received nearly 3,000 likes for this post: "The princess (Yao) in this series is quite cute, she should follow the path of TV series to develop her career."

Reflecting on her unique position as a high-profile figure due to her background, Yao acknowledged the challenges she faces, emphasizing the need to overcome prejudices and work harder, according to U.S. magazine Harper's Bazaar.

Despite the attention, she expressed a desire to live according to her own wishes, viewing doubt as a driving force for personal development.

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