Successfully made her way to penetrate Hollywood film industry, Zhang Ziyi definitely has the real talent and charisma to become one of the most promising Chinese actresses people ever know of. Throughout her career, she has consistently shown brilliant enactments in the films she starred and managed to add some depth to the characters she portrayed. With her powerful acting, martial arts grace, and stunning beauty, it is very possible for her to establish herself as a substantial performer who is respected by both critics and audiences all over the world.
Raised in a middle class family of a government economist and a kindergarten teacher together with her older brother, Zhang Zinan, Ziyi was born on February 9, 1979 in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Since she was considered as a frail child, her parents therefore encouraged her to take dancing and gymnastic lessons. "My parents sent me to study dance so I could build my muscles," she recalled. "I was very small and very weak for my age. They were worried about my health." Enrolled in a secondary school affiliated with Beijing Dancing College, she continued to polish her dancing skills during her four-years study there, even amazingly grabbed the Chinese Folk Dance Taoli Cup at the 4th Annual National Young Dancer Competition held in 1994.
Although many people assumed that she would have a bright career as a dancer, Ziyi instead turned her attention to another branch of performing arts: acting. Determined to accomplish her goal of becoming a fine actress, she then entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama in her hometown to persistently undergo a series of dramatic training. Quickly earned her first screen appearance through a TV series entitled "Touching Starlight" (1996), she afterwards joined an audition for a shampoo commercial to be shot by prominent Chinese director, Zhang Yimou. Despite her failure to obtain the part, the filmmaker, who sensed her potentiality, gave her the leading role of his 1999 romantic drama "The Road Home" instead.
Responded positively by both critics and audience, "Home" unmistakably propelled Ziyi to come into the attention of people in her country when she obtained a Hundred Flowers Award in the Best Actress category by the year 2000. As her bright talent was clearly visible following the honor, other substantial Asian director Ang Lee immediately included her in the cast of his "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) which was also joined by Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. To her surprise, this artistic feature turned out to be a huge commercial success worldwide, particularly in the U.S. where it successfully scored more than $128 million, even was established as the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards held in 2001.
The fantastic result of "Crouching Tiger", without doubt, boosted Ziyi's career increasingly and so, opened for her the door to Hollywood film industry. Following a glorious winning in the category of Best Fight at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards, her first Hollywood movie, "Rush Hour 2" (2001), alongside Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan satisfyingly became another box-office hit with the income of nearly 227 million U.S. dollar. Returned to Asia, she took her time to film a Hong Kong feature entitled "The Legend of Zu" and a Korean movie production, "Musa", which both came up in 2001 before marked her reunion with Zhang Yimou in his 2002 epic "Hero" where popular martial arts veteran Jet Li also starred in.
Next finishing her 2003 projects of "Purple Butterfly" and "My Wife Is a Gangster 2," Ziyi found herself once again being involved in another Zhang Yimou's wuxia film, "House of Flying Dagger" (2004) opposite renowned Hong Kong actor Andy Lau. Managed to display a convincing portrayal of a blind dancer named Mei, she gloriously gained the Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination from British Academy of Film and Television Arts by 2005. More challenging roles followed as the beauty had to exhibit her tap-dancing skills in Japanese flick "Princess Raccoon" while playing a much maturer role in Hong Kong's "2046", both released in 2005. The highlight, however, came at the end of the year when audience spotted her in Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005).
An adaptation of Arthur Golden's 1997 novel, the movie, though was poorly reviewed, did bring Ziyi a remarkable attainment of a best actress nomination at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards apart from another nod at BAFTA Awards held in the same year. Despite the recognition, she eagerly returned to her homeland to take part in 2006 wuxia-drama film "The Banquet" before going back to Hollywood to voice Karai in CGI animated feature "TMNT" (2007) and appear opposite Dennis Quaid in horror mystery "The Horsemen" (2008).
Talking about her love life, Ziyi has been known to be rather tight-lipped about the matter, even when she was speculated to spark an affair with Zhang Yimou for one time and got linked to Fok Kai-shan, the grandson of Hong Kong business tycoon Henry Fok. In January 2007, however, the actress was captured kissing a man at a New York basketball game, later revealed to be 41-year-old, Israeli multi-millionaire, venture capitalist Vivi Nevo.