Although a lot of Chinese actors seem to have always lived glamorous lives, the truth is quite different. Many of them grew up in difficulty. Their stories inspire us to dream big and persevere no matter what. They gain a reputation for giving to charities and noble causes, making them truly worthy of the title of inspirational figures.
We list 10 Chinese actors who, despite their impoverished childhoods, set out to prove that success is not impossible even when you start from nothing and work hard.
1. Andy Lau
His family lost their home to fire during his childhood, forcing them to live in squats. Due to the lack of plumbing in their house, Lau had to fetch water eight times a day for his family while growing up.
While Hong Kong was at the peak of its movie-making in the 1990s, he made numerous blockbusters. His contribution to charity is omnipresent.
2. Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan was born into a refugee family during the Civil War and grew up in poverty. Their poverty forced them to borrow money to give birth to him. Due to financial difficulties, The Chan family almost sold Jackie to another family. Ultimately, they retained him and worked hard to raise him. At the age of seven, he attended the China Drama Academy. Early in middle school, he started working to support his family. The academy helped him gain a solid education, discipline, and strictness that made him one of the most respected and well-known figures in history. He has pledged half his estate to charity after his death.
3. Chow Yun-Fat
Chow and his grew up on a farm and were so poor that they did not even have electricity. As a child, he would wake up at dawn each day to help his mother sell food in the streets. He dropped out of school to take on various odd jobs, including being a camera salesman, taxi driver, postman, and bellboy.
The first step he took in the film industry was to apply for an actor-trainee position at TVB he saw in the newspaper. Soon, he began to gain popularity among soap opera fans, becoming a heartthrob. As soon as he debuted, his youthful face and a strong sense of poise made him a big hit.
4. Jet Li
After his father died when he was two, Jet Li grew up in a struggling household. After being introduced to Wu Shu master Wu Bin by his gym teacher, he began training at Eight years old. Although he was not a prodigy student, he was a hard-working individual who worked hard to become so accomplished.
5. Nick Cheung
His childhood environment was very different from his current lifestyle. Nick grew up in a shantytown called Shek Kip Mei that housed refugees in the past.
In 1989, he made his film debut in Thank You, Sir! He was an artist with Asia Television before moving to TVB in 1995. Through hard work and investments, he has been able to enjoy the status he has today.
6. Aaron Kwok
Aaron came from a big, low-income family. Among his two brothers and two sisters, he was the youngest. Since his parents were under intense pressure to raise them, he worked during the summer breaks, so he would not have to ask them for pocket money.
As a youngster who lacked work experience, Aaron found summer jobs physically demanding and even became a cleaner for his friend's company. He said hard work had brought him rewards beyond his wildest dreams.
7. Eddie Cheung
Born in a shantytown in Sha Tin, Eddie Cheung is another actor who came from humble beginnings. He grew up in Sha Tin, a slum.
Eddie Cheung worked in TVB for almost 20 years before gaining success in his movie career.
8. Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Leung grew up in a broken home and had a rough childhood. In his early years, his alcoholic father abandoned him. When he was a boy in the 60s, he felt so ashamed about not having a father. Unlike today, traditional Chinese families never divorced - even if they don't love each other.
Tony Leung became a star at age 22 after appearing in shows like The Duke of Mount Deer and Police Cadet.
9. Dylan Kuo
His parents divorced when he was very young. Growing up, he lived with his mother and older brother in a single-parent home. His mother worked two jobs to provide for them. As a young teen, he lost his mother to breast cancer, an experience he says has left an imprint on his life that he will never forget.
After playing the lead role in the TV series The Outsiders in 2004, he gained fame.
10. Wallace Chung
After falling on hard times, the entire business set-up that the family depended on fell apart, and they became financially exposed. As a result of family financial troubles, he decided to forgo higher education to support the family. Together with his father, he worked odd jobs to make ends meet. When things were bad, he confessed to being a newspaper deliveryman and continued working in this capacity until he was 19 years old, when things started to get better.
It was then that he decided to live the dream he had always had of becoming a TV star. Making his debut with 'The Chord to Victory' at 19, he soon rose to fame.