Bai Ling biography
Date of Birth: October 10, 1970
"I had heard about how people struggle and how hard it is to get into acting. But I did not care because it's something I love."
Bai Ling, meaning "white spirit/light" admits to being a shy child. Born in the People's Republic of China, her parents led a difficult life because of their occupation. Her father was a teacher and her mother was a stage actor and dancer. Soon after she was born, her parents ran into trouble with the authorities and Ling was sent to Szechwan to live with her grandmother.
When she was 14, she joined the People's Liberation Army as an entertainer and performed for the Chinese soldiers. Ling found that she best expressed herself through acting and performing. After that, she moved to Beijing to join a theater, where she performed in a number of modern and classical Chinese plays as well as Western plays, and was later considered a movie star in mainland China after having made seven feature films.
When she was 21 she arrived in New York as a visiting scholar to NYU's Film School. When she arrived, she could not speak any English at all. "Like many Asian actors, I wanted to learn to speak English so I could do western films. The best way is to come to America where you will be forced to learn the language first-hand," explained Ling.
Her first hit American film was The Crow (1994), where she played the sadistic sister of the crime lord, Top Dollar. Three years later, she took on the politically controversial film Red Corner with Richard Gere. "I was aware of the possibility for repercussions when I accepted the role," Ling admits, "but I felt I needed to take the chances because the problems in China need to be exposed to the world."
In 1999 she tackled two big budget films -- Wild Wild West with Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Klein and Will Smith; and Anna And The King, a re-make of the classic tale The King and I. In the latter film, she co-starred with fellow Asian Chow Yun-Fat and two time Oscar-winner, Jodie Foster. The film required her to shave all her long black silky hair off. With a tear and a sigh, she agreed.
She is interested in writing and plans to write a screenplay as well as a novel about her experiences in Tibet. Ling currently lives in the States and is dating singer Chris Isaak.
Bai Ling Filmography