Red Star

Football babe

Zhang Xinyu

Zhang Xinyu w

Born in Jiangsu, Zhang Xinyu, 26, is a model and actress. She got her start as a cheerleader for the football team Shanghai Shenhua and quickly caught the attention of fans across the league (not a very difficult task given the dismal state of many Chinese teams), becoming widely known as “China’s Number One Football Babe”. Then she moved to the big screen, appearing in period drama Red Cliff: The Assassins (2009) playing Xiao Qi, the love interest of tyrant Cao Cao. She also had a minor role in If You Are The One 2 (2010).

Why is she famous?

Taking a page out of the Paris Hilton playbook, Zhang first grabbed wider attention after the release of highly-revealing pictures of her and an ex-boyfriend online in 2011. (Naturally, she says that the pictures were taken when she was 19 and that she “deeply regrets” her actions.)

Why is she in the news?

Zhang is now starring in Hunan TV’s hit series Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. The series, based (very loosely) on the kung-fu epic written by Jin Yong (also known as Louis Cha, see WiC186), has courted controversy since its premiere in late December. Many of Jin Yong’s fans complain that it bears little resemblance to the original classic, while others have lambasted it as yet another teenage drama dressed up in historical costume. “After just one look I don’t want to see it again,” was one withering verdict. Nevertheless, other viewers say that Zhang’s sultry performance is one of the “high points” of the show.

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