Vicki Zhao: Inside the Life of China’s Wealthiest Working Actress

There are some people in the world who become famous for their beauty, and others who become beautiful for their brains, determination and passionate spirit.

Meet Vicki Zhao, who at 40 years old stands on an incredible career as a famous Chinese actress, pop singer, film director, commercial model and successful investor.

To her film and television fans, she is affectionately known as China’s first modern “national idol”, but in the business world, she’s known as “China’s show-business Buffett”, a reference to the iconic American billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

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Along with her husband, businessman Huang Youlong whom she married in 2008 in Singapore, the couple’s net worth is estimated to be over $1 billion, mostly made up stock from Alibaba Pictures in a deal she struck with close friend and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma in 2014, according to Forbes.

The couple’s investment portfolio also includes real estate, a French winery and a Singaporean jewelry retailer. Zhao has also had an incredibly successful career as a commercial model, promoting over 120 of the world’s most recognizable luxury, fashion and technology brands.

Zhao and Huang had a daughter, April, in April of 2010.

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Born in Anhui province, Zhao was a kindergarten teacher at the age of 17 when a film director came into her town looking for extras. At first, Zhao was interested in acting but didn’t believe she was good looking enough to become an actress:

“I thought actresses had to be beautiful, and I thought I was ordinary.”

She landed a role as an extra and soon after quit her job to move to Shanghai to attend film school. By 20, she had earned outstandingly high scores on her entrance exams and enrolled in the famous Beijing Film Academy where she’d walk away with a Master’s in directing.

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Her big break came in the late 90s with the TV drama “My Fair Princess” where she starred alongside fellow actress Fan BingBing and become the youngest actress to win a Golden Eagle award, the Chinese equivalent to an Emmy Award.

Zhao, who is a practicing Buddhist, is also a vegetarian, is known for her excellent Chinese calligraphy skills, and believes that the key to maintaining beauty is to live a healthy lifestyle from within.

As she went on to star in many other prominent films, she also recorded seven Mando-pop albums before 2009, landing in China’s top 10 hits several times.

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Zhao made her directorial debut in 2013 with the young romance film “So Young” which ended up becoming a box office hit as well as the fifth highest-grossing film in China at the time.

Besides her incredibly successful career, Zhao has also participated in numerous charitable causes with organizations including China Youth Foundation’s Hope Project, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and to China Red Cross.

Images via Instagram
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