For many, the pursuit of acting is a family affair

Updated: 2013-02-27 09:05

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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For many, the pursuit of acting is a family affair

Parents wait out in the chilly weather while their children take the exams inside the Central Academy of Drama.

Twenty-year-old Wang Ziling confidently walked out of the Central Academy of Drama, as a large group of journalists rushed toward her, asking for her feelings about the examination.

Her mother Huang Suixing, standing a few steps away, had been waiting three hours in the chilly winter morning. The 48-year-old spotted her daughter as soon as she appeared, her maternal face glowing with tenderness and expectation.

A native of Dalian, Liaoning province, Wang dreams of becoming a diva in China's showbiz circle. She applied for the acting and musical majors in the Central Academy of Drama and Beijing Film Academy. Her dreams, however, have been a bittersweet experience for her mother.

Huang had spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1,600) on her daughter's air tickets, hotel and training costs. She says she is determined to do anything to support her daughter's ambition.

Every year when these performing schools begin their enrollment procedures, it's a physical and mental test for the parents as well as the applicants.

Parents spend a lot of money and time researching, sending their children to training courses, and accompanying their children traveling around the country for the tests.

During the exam days, they gather in front of the school gates, waiting anxiously for their children.

Some of the parents chat like friends, discussing road routines, hidden rules in the showbiz industry, and their children's exam performance.

"I know it's a tough road for her, but I did what I could to support her, so that in the future, neither she nor I would have regrets," Huang says, her eyes shining with pride.

"But I do hope my daughter will become a star in the future," she adds.

That is the outlook and hopes for most of these parents.

Another mother from Henan province, who declined to give her name, says she had already spent more than 25,000 yuan on her daughter's star-chasing dream, or a third of the family's savings.

She came to Beijing with her daughter for professional training courses three months before the exam.

To save money, she rented a small room in a Beijing's suburb for 1,600 yuan a month. She escorted her daughter to training class every morning, and later, rushed to an apartment in the CBD area, working as a house cleaner for the rest of the day.

Most parents do not assume that their hardships will be rewarded - they know too well that only a small number of students will make it through the academy doors.

The mother from Henan says this is the second time her daughter is taking the exam.

"I do not have other plans if she fails this year. Maybe I'll send her to become a dance teacher at some training centers," she says.

Chinese-Canadian mother Jenny Ji flew from Toronto to Beijing last Christmas, to accompany her daughter Chang Xiaoran through her application for the Beijing Film Academy.

She believes most Chinese performing students have poor records in academic studies, and that is why they are applying for majors like acting, directing and performing, which accept lower academic scores.

She encourages her daughter to do this, because Ji sees her passion for performing.

"My daughter was already admitted to Toronto University with a scholarship, but she still has a dream to act. I think I should help her in pursuing her dream," she says.

Ji says she has not seen a real performing star rising from China, but she sees that quality in her daughter, who speaks fluent Mandarin and English, has an international background, and a good education.

These are the qualities that a real star needs, the proud mother says.