Sheena Liang interviews Qu Ying

IN COMPLETE CONTRAST to Meng's emotional outpouring, Qu Ying is a picture of cool insouciance. Dressed in hoodie, T-short and jeans. Qu appears normal; if you bumped into the actress on the street, you'd scarcely be able to envision her on screen. Ye, on the big screen, the transformation is gob-smacking, and you understand what a veteran Qu is.

As with Meng, Qu Ying's break onto the big screen came through modeling. Speaking through a translator, Qu describes a love for the stage inherited for her parents in Changsha, Hunan. Her father was a theatre actor who specialized in Hunan opera, her mother a dancer. Graduating from a modern drama class at the Hunan Artistic School of Hunan Province, she joined the Hunan Repertory Theatre troupe. Yet, her height, 1.75 cm, proved detrimental to her stage career.

While the troupe was shooting a television series in Beijing, she was talent-spotted by a director. Figuring she had a better chance of furthering her career in Beijing, she called on a modeling agency, where her potential was instantly recognized. Not encumbered by a fear of performing in public, thanks to her theatre background,s he rose quickly through the ranks. Scores of assignments poured in. " I think I was a natural model," she explains. By the mid-1990s, Qu was one of China's top models and represented brands such as Maybelline and Pantene. As a household name, she was approached to host a show for MTV. She took to presenting like a duck to water, and soon modeling took a back seat to her burgeoning singing and acting career.

Qu may not be well known to Hong Kong audiences because the majority of her presenting and acting work has been in the mainland. But she is a prolific actress with 18 years and leading roles roles in movies such as Zhang Yimou's Keep Cool under her belt.

Also a singer, Qu released five albums from 1994 to 2005, each selling more than 100,000 copies and has another in the offing.

At age 37, when many actresses think about settling down and having kids, Qu is forging ahead. She's pleased with longevity. "I look at my peers and , unfortunately all of them are no longer in the business. I'm fortunate that Is till have my looks and have not aged much. I feel like I'm now just entering my prime."

Staying sane in the notoriously cutthroat entertainment industry is no short order, so how does she do it? "I tend to go with the flow. I'm not such a goal-driven person and it's worked well for me thus far. Boxing yourself into goals sometimes just leads to despair and disappointment. The process is more important than the the end result, so whatever I do, be it having family or cutting another album, I just want to be happy doing it."

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