Chinese star Jia Ling whose latest movie and drastic physical transformation make headlines becomes 4th mainland actress to gross over US$1.4 billion

Chinese star Jia Ling whose latest movie and drastic physical transformation make headlines becomes 4th mainland actress to gross over US$1.4 billion

She plays a leading role in famous director Zhang Yimou’s recent legal drama film, Article 20.

Ma is so popular in China that she has been invited to play skits on the most-viewed CCTV annual Spring Festival gala show eight times.

Box-office blockbusters: only these four women have taken in more than US$1.4 billion for their movies in China’s film history. Photo: nbd.com.cn

Zhou, 32, was selected by the film master Zhang Yimou to play in his 2010 movie The Love of the Hawthorn Tree.

She is regarded as one of the most accomplished actresses in China after winning the most prestigious film awards in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan before she reached 30.

Many of Zhou’s films are of the art and literary genre.

Zhang Xiaofei, 38, only became a household name in China after the success of Jia’s movie Hi, Mom which was released two years ago and in which Zhang plays the heroine.

Zhang, a good friend of Jia, also participated in her latest work Re La Gun Tang, or You Only Live Once.

Jia, the world’s highest-grossing woman movie director, enjoys huge popularity on the mainland because audiences like her upbeat and easy-going character, while admiring her hard-working and persistent spirit.

Jia, 41, started her career as a humble cross-talk performer and comic actress who struggled to make ends meet and lived in a small rented underground flat in Beijing 20 years ago.

Her fame has grown gradually over the past decade thanks to her appearance on CCTV’s Spring Festival gala shows and her participation in a number of art programmes.

Hi, Mom, which is Jia’s first film as a director, tells the story of her mother, Li Huanying, who was killed in a road accident. It was a huge hit, taking in 5 billion yuan (US$695 million) at the box office.

Her second movie as a director, Re La Gun Tang, adapted from the Japanese 2014 film 100 Yen Love, has grossed 3.4 billion yuan at the box office since its debut on February 10.

Jia is the leading actress in both films.

Actress-director Jia Ling has risen to stardom from humble beginnings thanks to her upbeat and easy-going style. Photo: nbd.com.cn

For her second movie, she lost 50kg in weight to portray a fat, jobless and decadent woman who learned boxing to find the new direction in life.

Jia’s dramatic change in physical stature won her massive plaudits on mainland social media.

Her box office achievement has become a topic of heated discussion online, although opinions are divided over Jia’s success.

“Jia Ling has again demonstrated her talent. Go for it, Sister Ling,” said one of her fans on Douyin.

But others do not think highly of Jia.

“I think she is just good at marketing. Her first movie is about missing mum while the second one is encouraging. Both topics could easily attract the public’s attention,” said one online observer.

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