The ‘Four Dan Actresses’ was a term first used by Guangzhou Daily editorial to refer to the actresses Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun, Xu Jinglei, and Zhang Ziyi, when they were all in their 20s. These actresses were considered as the four most bankable actresses in Mainland China. Over the years as Chinese cinematography changed, so did the names on this list. Here’s a list of 10 such actresses.
1. Xu Jinglei
Xu Jinglei is an actress and film director. She rose to fame with ‘A Sentimental Story’, a 1997 released television series. Xu played the role of a policewoman who falls in love with a gangster. In 2003, she made her directorial debut with the film ‘My Father And I’, and also starred as a lead in the film. ‘My Father And I’ was a widely acclaimed commercial success and garnered extensive critical acclaim, winning Xu a Golden Rooster award for Best Directing Debut.
2. Zhou Xun
Zhou Xun is one of the most commercially successful Chinese actresses. She is popularly known for her roles in ‘Perhaps Love’ and ‘Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress’. Zhou started her career in the early 1900s and first gained television recognition through the series ‘Palace Of Desire’, while her first film breakthrough was with ‘Suzhou River’. Zhou Xun is also a dedicated social worker and has earned several recognitions for her work, including being named the first Goodwill Ambassador for China in 2008, by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
3. Huang Shengyi
Huang Shengyi, also known as Eva Huang, is a singer and actress who became immensely popular after starring in the 2004 film ‘Kung Fu Hustle’. She is an extremely well-known and highly-demanded actress in China.Huang starred in the 2005 film ‘Dragon Squad’. This became one of the first films to be listed by the National Museum of China in the permanent collection. Huang Shengyi released her first solo album in 2008, it was titled ‘Huang Shengyi’.
4. Wang Luodan
Wang Luodan is a singer and actress, who rose to fame through the series ‘Struggle’. Wang became even more popular after starring in ‘A Story Of Lala’s Promotion’ and ‘My Youthfulness’. In between her career, Wang Luodan took a break in order to study at New York University. Her hiatus lasted for about three months, after which she played commendable roles in ‘Rise Of The Legend’, ‘The Virtuous Queen Of Han’, and ‘To The Fore’. In 2014, Wang was named as the Most Valuable Chinese Actress.
5. Ni Ni
Ni Ni is a film and television actress. Ni Ni is one of the most popular actresses in China and is also highly demanded. She ventured into the entertainment industry in Zhang Yimou’s ‘The Flowers Of War’. Ni Ni was widely critically acclaimed for her performance in the movie, and began gathering a large fanbase. In 2014, Ni Ni became the first person to be awarded the ‘Reading Star Ambassador’ by the 9th Chinese Writers List.
6. Liu Shishi
Liu Shishi, or Cecilia Liu, is one of the most famous actresses in China. She graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy, majoring in ballet. Liu is most popularly known for her role in ‘Chinese Paladin 3’. She debuted in 2005 with the television drama ‘The Moon And The Wind’. Liu became even more popular in 2011 after being cast in two highly successful dramas, ‘The Vigilantes In Masks’ and ‘Scarlet Heart’. Thanks to these two dramas, Liu was instantly catapulted into stardom.
7. Guan Xiaotong
Guan Xiaotong is an actress and singer and has been titled the ‘Nation’s Daughter’. She is the daughter of the famous actor, Guan Shaozeng. She is most commonly known for her roles in ‘Shadow’ and ‘The Left Ear’. ‘The Left Ear' was released in 2015, and Guan Xiaotong won the Most Promising Actress award at the Gold Aries Award, under the Macau International Movie Festival. In the same year, Guan Xiaotong released her first solo album ‘Eighteen’. In 2017, Guan became the ambassador for ‘World Life Day’, a joint campaign under the International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Nature Conservancy, and the United Nations Environment Programme.
8. Zhou Dongyu
Zhou Dongyu is an actress, who became widely known after appearing in the film ‘Under The Hawthorn Tree’, by Zhang Yimou. Zhou was cast by Zhang despite not having any prior experience in the field of acting, yet she rose to fame with her outstanding performance in the film. She ended up winning several awards for her role in the film, including the Best New Performer award at the 20th Shanghai Film Critics Awards. Zhou Dongyu’s performance in the film ‘Soul Mate’ became one of the most significant milestones in her career, and helped her to reach the height that she is at today.
9. Zhang Xueying
Zhang Xueying is an actress who gained high critical acclaim through the 2019 film ‘Einstein And Einstein’. She debuted in the year 2003, with the TV series ‘Yong Le Heros’. In 2018, Zhang Xueying starred in the drama ‘Summer’s Desire’. The drama was based on Ming Xiaoxi’s novel ‘Pao Mo Zhi Xia’. She had built up her popularity through multiple supporting roles and minor roles before finally being propelled into stardom.
10. Zhang Zifeng
Zhang Zifeng, also known as Wendy Zhang, is one of the most highly anticipated young actresses in China. She is the youngest recipient of the Best Newcomer award at the 31st Hundred Flowers Awards, making her the youngest ever recipient of the award ever. Zhang Zifeng is also the youngest recipient of the Best Supporting Actress at the 22 Huading Awards. Zhang is currently a student at a high school in Beijing.