LIU YIFEI WAS BORN IN CHINA, AND IMMIGRATED TO AMERICA.
Liu Yifei was born in Wuhan, China, on August 25, 1987. When she was 10-years-old, she immigrated to the United States with her mother. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Liu “learned English when she lived in New York as a child for four years with her mother, a dancer, after her parents’ divorce.” Having lived in Queens for a period of five years, Liu acquired an American passport, before returning to China to pursue a career in entertainment.
According to IMDb, Liu “was accepted into the Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy” in September 2002 when she was 15, which helped the young star to start her TV and movie career. She quickly gained the nickname “Fairy Sister” in China.
SHE BEAT OUT ALMOST 1,000 ACTRESSES FOR THE LEAD ROLE IN MULAN.
When Liu’s casting in Disney’s Mulan was announced, THR revealed that “casting directors visited five continents and saw nearly 1,000 candidates for the role” before making their decision. The publication also noted that Disney was looking for someone with “credible martial arts skills, the ability to speak English and the most ineffable requirement of all: star quality.”
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Having lived in the United States for some of her childhood, Liu is fluent in English, and has subsequently built a successful acting career in China. Before becoming Mulan, Liu also worked on several Hollywood productions including 2014’s Outcast opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen, and 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li. As such, Liu had already proven that she could hold her own on the big screen in international productions, making her the perfect choice for the next live-action Disney princess.
LIU YIFEI IS AN ACCOMPLISHED SINGER.
While Disney’s Mulan remake isn’t a musical like its animated counterpart, actress Liu recorded a rendition of the classic song “Reflection” for the soundtrack.
Before her musical performance in Mulan, Liu professionally pursued a music career. In 2005, she was signed to Sony Music Entertainment Japan, per IMDb. In 2006, she released the eponymous Chinese-language album, Liu Yifei, and a Japanese album called All My Words. Her 2006 single, “Mayonaka no Door,” was used as the end credits theme song for Demashita! PowerPuff Girls Z.
SHE’S COVERED HARPER’S BAZAAR CHINA ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS.
In China, Yifei is a model and brand ambassador for a number of high profile brands and fashion houses. She’s worked with the likes of Armani, Dior, Garnier, Adidas, Shiseido, Pantene, and Tommy Hilfiger, and has covered a multitude of fashion magazines, including Harper’s BAZAAR China.
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.