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Tao Hong in full bloom

04-26-2011 16:31 BJT

The Beijing International Sports Film Festival honoured actress Tao Hong with the title: "Star Volunteer." A champion athlete, and much acclaimed artist, Tao says she considers the award, the highlight, among all her honours.

A 10-year professional career in synchronized swimming taught Tao Hong to set goals and to push forward with unwavering effort. She was well equipped to make the transition to acting. In 1996 she appeared in the film "Dark Eyes." It was about the love and loss of a blind sprinter struggling for recognition. The film won Tao Hong much acclaim. She says she learned a lot from doing it.

Tao did her homework before joining the film's cast. She spent time among disabled people, just talking. Tao's athletic background helped her master the spirit of the character. "Dark Eyes" won Tao many laurels, including statuettes for Best Actress at both China's Golden Rooster Awards and the Damascus International Film Festival. She also was honored as the Best Actress at the Hua Biao Awards, China's governmental film recognition.

Tao reveals she feels truly touched by the lives of those who are physically challenged. She says shooting the film gave her more empathy and a greater appreciation of life.

"Dark Eyes" was the first time Tao stared as a lead but it wasn't her first picture. Her debut film was "In the Heat of the Sun", under the direction of Jiang Wen. Jiang had had a hard time selecting for the female roles. He needed actress who grew up in the 1990s but still had the innocence of girls of the 1960s. When Jiang met Tao Hong one day in the training center for synchronized swimming, he made a snap decision and invited Tao to join his cast.

At the time, Tao was a member of the Beijing Synchronized Swimming Team. She had been a champion and runner up in the national championships. Tao was on the national team and competed in the world championships. But her debut big screen performance caused a change in Tao's career path.

When director Jiang Wen was shooting "In the Heat of the Sun", he suggested Tao try out for the Central Drama Academy. That was his school. He thought her voice would be well received. Tao took Jiang's advice. She applied to the acting department of the Central Drama Academy and two other colleges: the Beijing Film Academy and the Shanghai Drama Academy. She passed the preliminaries for all three. Finally Tao chose the Central Drama Academy. She was still a third grade student when she starred in the "Dark Eyes."

Upon graduation, Tao joined the Central Experimental Drama Art Troupe. She began concentrating on plays, other than for a few minor roles on TV. After the "Dark Eyes", Tao was absent from the screen for almost four years.

She returned to appear before the mass audience in 2000 in the TV series "Nothing in the Mirror," Her image was unembellished, unglamorous. She played an amiable neighborhood girl.

"Nothing in the Mirror" tells the story of two sisters from an ordinary family. Tao plays the younger sister. Her character; pure, sincere, and kind, stands her in sharp contrast to her elder sister who is beautiful, smart and cynical. Tao's character plays at disadvantage to her elder sibling. But in the end Tao finds true happiness through her heart of gold. The drama's convincing portrayal of ordinary people was a big hit. Tao's natural acting talent helped audiences to believe in her character. Her sunshine smile and plain words remain etched in the hearts of many.

While acting in the TV series "Pigsy in Love", Tao encountered her own true love. She married Xu Zheng, who played Pigsy in the series. The lovers in the comedy became man and wife in real life.

The couple's offscreen personna was muted and low key. The two rarely posed together for photographers. Tao and Xu have never appeared together in TV dramas or in films since Pigsy. On stage they did collaborate in a play called the "Last Valentine". The 2005 production seemed to underscore their greatest loves, the stage and each another.

Tao Hong seeks the down-to-earth happiness that has characterized many of her roles playing ordinary people. She won't dazzle anyone. She shines in her own way, bright and wholesome - enough to warm the heart.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: CNTV

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