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Zhao Liying

Zhao Liying

Zhao Liying (Chinese: 赵丽颖, born 16 October 1987), also known as Zanilia Zhao, is a Chinese actress. She is best known for her roles in television series Legend of Lu Zhen (2013), Boss & Me (2014), The Journey of Flower (2015), The Mystic Nine (2016), Noble Aspirations (2016), Princess Agents (2017) and The Story of Minglan (2018).

Zhao ranked 80th on Forbes China Celebrity 100 list in 2014,[1] 43rd in 2015,[2] 4th in 2017,[3] and 15th in 2019.[4]

Zhao Liying
Born(1987-10-16)October 16, 1987
Langfang, Hebei, China
ResidenceShanghai, China
Other namesZanilia Zhao
Alma materLangfang School of Electronic Information Engineering
Years active2006–present
AgentHesong Media
Feng Shaofeng (m.2018)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese趙麗穎
Simplified Chinese赵丽颖

Early life

Zhao was born on 16 October 1987 in Langfang, Hebei. She graduated from Langfang School of Electronic Information Engineering, a secondary professional training school.[5] She has said of this period:

I was born in a village, but it was the experience of rural life that strengthened my strong will and gave me a firm and tenacious personality. It is these experiences that have made me who I am today. So I think it is his strong heart, the persistent pursuit of dreams, the perseverance and steadfastness of the profession which you are engaged in, as well as the calmness and stability when facing the vanity that makes a hero.[6]


2006–2012: Beginnings

In 2006, Zhao Liying participated in the Yahoo Search Star Game and became the final winner. She then signed with Huayi Brothers as a new talent.[5] In 2007, Zhao made her acting debut in the family drama Golden Marriage.[7]

In 2009, Zhao took on her first historical drama role in The Firmament of The Pleiades.[8] The series was broadcast on Japanese channel NHK and earned critical acclaim.[9][10] Zhao received the Most Popular Actress award at the Chinese Creative Short Video Awards.[11]

Zhao first started to gain recognition from mainland audiences after starring in The Dream of Red Mansions (2010), based on the novel of the same name by Cao Xueqin. She gained more popularity with her role as Princess Qing'er in New My Fair Princess (2011).[12]

2013–2015: Rising popularity and Breakthrough

Zhao then starred in historical drama Legend of Lu Zhen (2013), playing an ordinary girl who worked her way up to become the first female prime minister.[13][14] The drama was a hit domestically, and also overseas in South Korea and Japan, leading to increased recognition for Zhao in the region.[15] Zhao won several Newcomer and popularity awards at local award ceremonies.[16][17][18] The same year, Zhao starred in historical romance film Palace: Lock Sinensis, the fourth and final installment of the Gong series by Yu Zheng. Opposite to her usual sweet and nice image, Zhao plays a scheming and evil princess in the film.[19]

Zhao further solidified her popularity with several high rated dramas in 2014, including The Legend of Chasing Fish and Wife's Secret.[20][21] Zhao also starred in Boss & Me, based on Gu Man’s popular novel Shan Shan Comes to Eat.[22] The romantic comedy was a hit in China, and was earned high ratings overseas.[23][24] Zhao's soaring popularity thanks to her various successful acting projects led to her being crowned the "Golden Eagle Goddess" at the 10th China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival, where she performed as the opening act to the ceremony.[25]

In 2015, Zhao starred in xianxia romance drama The Journey of Flower.[26] The drama was a huge success in China, achieving a peak rating of 3.89 and also became the first Chinese drama to surpass 20 billion online views.[27] The success of the drama brought Zhao's career to a greater height.[28] Zhao won numerous accolades for her role in The Journey of Flower,[29][30][31] including the Best Actress at the 28th China TV Golden Eagle Award.[32] Zhao was also nominated at the Magnolia Award for Best Actress in a Television Series.[33] The same year, she starred in modern workplace drama Best Get Going,[34] and wuxia drama Legend of Zu Mountain.[35]

2016–present: Mainstream recognition

In 2016, Zhao starred in action adventure drama The Mystic Nine, playing the love interest of William Chan's character.[36] The series was a commercial success, accumulating over 10 billion views in total.[37] Zhao won the Best Actress award at the 3rd Hengdian Film and TV Festival of China for her role.[38] She was then cast as one of the two female leads, Bi Yao in Noble Aspirations, based on the popular novel Zhu Xian written by Xiao Ding.[39] The drama has over 23 billion views online, the highest record held by a Chinese drama at that time.[40][41] The same year, Zhao starred in her first war drama, Rookie Agent Rouge.[42] VLinkage reported that as of December 2016, Zhao's combined dramas' views have reached over 110 billion views, which is the most views by a Chinese actor at the moment.[43]

In 2017, Zhao starred in the Han Han-directed film, Duckweed alongside Deng Chao and Eddie Peng.[44] The sleeper hit was a commercial and critical success.[45][46] She won her first film award, the Favorite Actress at the Beijing College Student Film Festival.[47] She then starred in the revolutionary drama film Eternal Wave along with Aaron Kwok, about the operation of Communist Party (CPC) undercover agents operating in Shanghai in the 1930s against the Japanese.[48][49] Zhao returned to the small screen with historical action drama Princess Agents, playing a slave girl who rises up to become a powerful female general.[50] Princess Agents was a commercial success both domestically and internationally, and held the record as the most watched Chinese television series at that time.[51] Forbes China listed Zhao under their 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list which comprises 30 influential people under 30 years old who have made substantial effect in their fields.[52]

In 2018, Zhao starred in the fantasy adventure film The Monkey King 3, playing the role of the Women Country's Ruler.[53] Zhao then starred in the historical drama The Story of Minglan produced by Daylight Entertainment.[54] The drama received critical acclaim and topped television ratings with over 2% in its final episodes.[55] Zhao was nominated at the Magnolia Award for Best Actress in a Television Series for the second time.[56]

In 2019, it was announced that Zhao will star as the female lead in the wuxia drama Legend of Fei, based on the novel You Fei by Priest.[57]

Other activities

In 2016, Zhao was named the tourism ambassador of Hebei.[58] The same year, Zhao became the Vice President of Yi Xia Technology.[59]

Zhao unveiled her wax figure at Madame Tussauds Beijing on May 2017.[60] The same year, Zhao was chosen as a brand ambassador for Dior in China.[61]

In March 2019, Zhao announced her partnership with Hesong Media.[62]

Personal life

On October 16, 2018, Zhao announced her marriage to actor Feng Shaofeng on Sina Weibo.[63] On March 8, 2019, Zhao gave birth to a boy.[64]



YearEnglish titleChinese titleRoleNotes
2007Mudan Pavilion镖行天下之牡丹阁Xiao Hong
2008Ten Warriors in Mashi Mountain马石山十勇士Ying Zi
Love Killed Nine River Hall爱杀九河堂You Lan
2013Palace: Lock Sinensis宫锁沉香Liu Li
2015Crazy New Year’s Eve一路惊喜Li Nana[65]
2016Royal Treasure极限挑战之皇家宝藏Princess Baihua[66]
The Rise of a Tomboy女汉子完美恋人He Xiuwu[67]
Days of Our Own我们的十年Zhang Jingyi[68]
2017Duckweed乘风破浪Meng Tianai
Love of Jasmine茉莉之恋Short film[69]
Eternal Wave密战He Lanfang
2018The Monkey King 3西遊記之女兒國Ruler of Women's Country

Television series

YearEnglish titleChinese titleRoleNotes
2006Century Endless Love世纪不了情Lin Shanshan
2007Nanyue King南越王Empress[70]
Golden Marriage金婚Tong Duoduo
2008Spring Goes, Spring Comes春去春又回Ren Jie'er
2009Four Women Conflict锁清秋Wen Yan
The Firmament of The Pleiades苍穹之昴Ling'er
A Husband and Wife夫妻一场Yingzi
2010Qiao Luo Gang锣鼓巷Li Qiuping (young)
The Girl in Blue佳期如梦An An[71]
The Dream of Red Mansions新红楼梦Xing Xiuyan
The Amateur Imperial Bodyguard大内低手Chen Xin'er[72]
2011Goddess of Mercy新玉观音A Jing
New My Fair Princess新还珠格格Princess Qing'er
Xia Yan's Autumn夏妍的秋天Tang Xiaoran[73]
2012Best Quality Men and Women极品男女日记Chu Yang[74]
Palace II宫锁珠帘Tunggiya BaiheCameo[75]
Cuo Dian Yuan Yang错点鸳鸯Su Huan'er/ Yang Yiliu[76]
2013Legend of Lu Zhen陆贞传奇Lu Zhen
The Legend of Chasing Fish追鱼传奇Hong Ling[77]
Ex我的极品是前任Liu LiCameo[78]
2014Wife's Secret妻子的秘密Jiang Baihe[79]
Boss & Me杉杉来了Xue Shanshan
The Romance of the Condor Heroes神雕侠侣Mu NianciCameo[80]
2015The Journey of Flower花千骨Hua Qiangu
Best Get Going加油吧实习生Song Nuan
Love Yunge from the Desert大汉情缘之云中歌Bai HeCameo[81]
Legend of Zu Mountain蜀山战纪之剑侠传奇Yu Wuxin
The Journey of Flower 2015花千骨2015Hua QianguCameo[82]
2016Lucky Tianbao吉祥天宝Yang Ruonan[83]
The Mystic Nine老九门Yin Xinyue
Noble Aspirations青云志Bi Yao
Rookie Agent Rouge胭脂Lan Yanzhi
Happy Mitan欢喜密探Bao Bei'erCameo[84]
Noble Aspirations 2青云志2Bi Yao[85]
2017Princess Agents特工皇妃楚乔传Chu Qiao
2018Our Glamorous Time你和我的倾城时光Lin Qian[86]
The Story of Minglan知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦Sheng Minglan
2020Legend of Fei有翡Zhou Fei

Variety show

YearEnglish titleChinese titleRoleNotes
2015Up Idol偶像来了Cast memberFirst season[87]
201772 Floors of Mystery七十二层奇楼[88]

Music video appearances

YearSong TitleSingerNotes
2016To Love You (終生角色)Kenny Kwan[89]



YearEnglish titleChinese titleAlbumNotes
2013"Mood"心情Legend of Lu Zhen OSTwith Chen Xiao
2015"Not to Mention"不可说The Journey of Flower OSTwith Wallace Huo[90]
"You're an Idol"你是偶像Up Idol theme songwith various artists
"Ten Years"十年Days of Our Own OSTRendition of Eason Chan's song
"Destruction in Chaos"乱世俱灭Legend of Zu Mountain OSTwith Xu Zhian[91]
"I Have Never Existed"我从来不存在with Julia Yue
2016"Yearning"心念Rookie Agent Rouge OST[92]
2017"Gaze"Princess Agents OSTwith Zhang Bichen[93]
"Miss You"想你N/Awith Kris Wu[94]
2018"Don't You Know"知否知否The Story of Minglan OSTwith Feng Shaofeng

Awards and nominations

Major awards
YearAwardCategoryNominated workResultRef.
201410th China Golden Eagle TV Art FestivalGolden Eagle GoddessN/AWon[25]
13th Huading AwardsBest New ActressLegend of Lu ZhenNominated
20156th Macau International Television FestivalBest ActressThe Journey of FlowerWon[29]
201619th Huading AwardsBest Actress (Contemporary Drama)Best Get GoingNominated[95]
Best Actress (Ancient Drama)The Journey of FlowerNominated
22nd Shanghai Television FestivalBest ActressNominated[33]
28th China TV Golden Eagle AwardBest ActressWon[32]
11th China Golden Eagle TV Art FestivalMost Popular ActressNominated
3rd Asia Rainbow TV AwardsBest Actress (Ancient Drama)Nominated[96]
3rd Hengdian Film and TV Festival of ChinaBest ActressThe Mystic NineWon[38]
201722nd Huading AwardsBest ActressNominated[97]
24th Beijing College Student Film FestivalFavorite ActressDuckweedWon[47]
8th Macau International Television FestivalBest ActressPrincess AgentsNominated[98]
20189th China Film Director's Guild AwardsBest ActressDuckweedNominated[99]
201925th Shanghai Television FestivalBest ActressThe Story of MinglanNominated[56]
2006Search Star GameN/AWon
2009Chinese Creative Short Video AwardsMost Popular ActressN/AWon[11]
2013Youku Young Choice AwardsMost Popular Actress (Mainland China)Legend of Lu ZhenWon[18]
4th LeTV Film & TV AwardsMost Popular Actress (TV)Won[17]
4th China TV Drama AwardsBest New ActressWon[16]
20143rd iQiyi All-Star CarnivalMost Popular ActressBoss & MeWon[100]
6th China TV Drama AwardsMost Popular Actress (Mainland China)Won[101]
2015Sina Weibo Awards NightGoddess of the YearWon[102]
4th iQiyi All-Star CarnivalMost Popular ActressN/AWon[30]
Powerstar Award CeremonyMost Popular ActressN/AWon[103]
2nd The Actors of China Award CeremonyOutstanding Actress (Emerald)N/ANominated[104]
7th China TV Drama AwardsSpecial Contribution AwardN/AWon[31]
Actress with the Most Ratings AppealN/AWon
2016Sina Weibo Awards NightMost Popular ActressN/AWon[105]
Weibo QueenN/AWon[106]
Tencent Star AppMost Popular ActressN/AWon[107]
Chengdu Economic Daily Readers' Reputation RankingTelevision Actress of the YearN/AWon[108]
Chinese Campus Art Glory FestivalMost Popular ActressN/AWon[109]
5th iQiyi All-Star CarnivalArtist of the YearThe Mystic NineWon[110]
Baidu Moments Press ConferenceMost Commercially Valuable Female ArtistN/AWon[111]
1st Tencent Video Star AwardsMost Popular TV ActressNoble AspirationsWon[112]
20172nd China Quality Television Drama CeremonyMost Talented ActressRookie Agent RougeWon[113]
2nd Weibo Movie Awards CeremonyMost Anticipated Film PairingThe Monkey King 3Won[114]
6th iQiyi All-Star CarnivalGoddess AwardN/AWon[115]
2nd Tencent Video Star AwardsTelevision Actress of the YearPrincess AgentsWon[116]
24th Cosmo Beauty CeremonyBeautiful Idol of the YearN/AWon[117]
20187th iQiyi All-Star CarnivalGoddess AwardN/AWon[118]


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