updated 26 Jul 2013, 13:49
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Vicki Zhao names the men most important to her

These four men are very important to Vicki Zhao, who recently turned 37 and is lauded as one of mainland China's most successful actresses.

On April 26, 2013, her directorial debut film, So Young will open in theatres, adding another achievement to her distinguished career.

Nevertheless, Vicki is quick to attribute her success to the support and love from her friends and family. Among them can be singled out four men whose influence in Vicki's life cannot be overlooked and who have been by her side in times of victory and defeat, reported

The Influential Teacher: Xie Jin

After Vicki graduated from high school in 1994, she attended the Xie Jin Film & Television Art College at Shanghai Normal University. That same year, she landed her first lead role in the movie Penitentiary Angel, which was directed by Xie Jin, the president and eponym of the college. In the following years, Vicki received countless filming invitations for dramas, commercials, and music videos, in which she almost always played the female lead.

Vicki accredits Xie Jin's school philosophy for her early success. Unlike other arts schools, where there were strict regulations on whether students could accept acting roles, Xie Jin encouraged his students to participate in movies and dramas in order to attain more experience. According to Vicki, he saw performance as "an industry for young people" and did not wish to see "talented youth waste their time on studying outdated theories."

In 1996, at 20 years of age, Vicki was accepted to the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. A year later, she was cast in the popular TV drama Princess Pearl as the female lead Xiao Yanzi, widely considered her breakthrough role. Although Xie Jin passed away in 2008, he has left an indelible mark on Vicki's life, and Vicki herself has said, "Without Xie Jin, there would not be the Vicki you see today."

The Everlasting Friend: Huang Xiaoming

On her birthday this year, Vicki recorded a television programme to promote her upcoming film. To her surprise, her university classmate and fellow actor Huang Xiaoming showed up at the recording, even though he was on crutches due to a filming injury. With an excited screech, Vicki leaped up and embraced him, because she knew that he had filmed for two nights in a row and slept for only four hours, so he could visit and support her.

In the past, Xiaoming has readily admitted to having a crush on Vicki when they attended the Beijing Film Academy. Although the two were never romantically involved, they became extremely close friends and remain so to this day.

During the recording, Xiaoming's ongoing adoration of Vicki was apparent to all who were present. He brought with him a large birthday cake, on the surface of which he'd added a few cream figures, commenting, "That female figure is Vicki. In the entire world, you won't find another pair of big eyes like hers." After she had a bite of cake, he immediately gave her a cup of water. At the request of fans, he even threw his crutches to one side and swept Vicki up in a hug.

When asked about his appearance during the recording, Xiaoming replied, "Friendship is not meant to be taken out and showed off. When you ought to lend a hand, then you should do so. It's been 16 years, and as long as Vicki needs it, I will definitely support and help her. It will always be like this."

After the recording finished, Vicki left a message directed toward Xiaoming on her Sina Weibo: "I was deeply moved yet again. Without stopping to sleep or rest, you hurried from the set in Huairou to the programme set. The years of your youth let your charm shine so that it cannot be resisted." In response, netizens praised their friendship and lamented the fact that Vicki had gotten married and become Mrs. Huang, but her husband was not Huang Xiaoming.

The Career Partner: Chen Kun

While at the Beijing Film Academy, Vicki also had the fortune to befriend mainland Chinese actor Chen Kun. Since their graduation, Chen Kun has been involved in both Vicki's personal and professional life. The two maintain a close friendship and have collaborated in several movies and dramas, even acting as a couple in films such as Mulan and Painted Skin.

In 2001, after Vicki visited Chen Kun while he was filming in Changsha, rumours began to spread that the two were an item. Chen Kun laughed this off, saying that if they had wanted to go out, they would have done so when they were in school. He became her unofficial spokesman from 2007 to 2008, when Vicki went to Singapore and secretly got married. As the media buzzed with theories about her personal life, Chen Kun stepped forward with the message, "Vicki is doing well. She has not been dumped!"

Their friendship has continued to grow after Vicki's marriage and pregnancy. Last year, they worked together again in Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection. Chen Kun attributes their enduring friendship to Vicki's easygoing nature, "When you're with her, you will always feel happy. She takes good care of her friends." Vicki says the two of them are like "close male friends" and that "in the most desperate times, [Chen Kun] will be there."

The Loving Husband: Huang Youlong

Despite the disdain some may have for female celebrities who married rich men, Vicki has happily enjoyed the past five years of marriage to business tycoon Huang Youlong. Although he initially wished for Vicki to retire from the entertainment industry after their wedding, he is supportive of her wishes to study directing and continue acting.

According to reports, Huang Youlong already has a private plane worth more than 100 million RMB, and his family property is estimated to be more than 200 million. Unlike other successful businessmen, however, he is not a "rich second-generation child" who lives off his parents' fortune. Rather, his wealth was a result of his own effort in the real estate market.

On Vicki's birthday this year, Huang Youlong posted a picture of the two of them with their two-year-old daughter, who was born on April 11, 2010. Although Vicki has never commented on her husband in public, her radiant smile when others mention him is enough to express her happiness.

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