Bai Ling is an actress who has appeared in numerous films worldwide. While she was born in China she has become an American citizen and is well known for her appearances in American films. The more popular American movies she has been a part of include “The Crow” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”. She also had a scene in “Star Wars: Episode III” which was deleted before the movie’s release. Recently she has appeared in the popular U.S. television show “Lost”, about the survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious and dangerous tropical island, as a memory in one of the main character’s flashbacks.
Bai Ling was born in Chengdu, China. Her father was a music teacher and her mother was a literature teacher. Bai Ling grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China, and first acted during her school years in performances of the “Eight model plays”, the only plays that were allowed in China during those years. After school, she worked for a short time as a manual laborer, before qualifying to become an “artist soldier” for the People’s Liberation Army. During her time in the People’s Liberation Army she worked as a musical theater entertainer and a nurse. After her discharge three years later she became a professional actress with the theatre company in Chengdu. During this period she was discovered by film director Teng Wenji and started working as a film actress in Chinese movies like “On the Beach”.
In the early nineties she started spending more and more time in America, first moving to study film at New York University, then getting a special visa to stay in America until becoming a citizen in 1999. Since then she has appeared in several American films including “The Crow”, “Anna and the King”, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, and “Star Wars: Episode III” (from which her scenes as Senator Bana Breemu ended up being cut). Most recently as of early 2007 she has appeared as a flashback character on the popular island-based mystery television show Lost. She continues to work frequently as a film actress.
ASIANCE: So great seeing you in New York
Bai Ling: I love New York City. I would love to live there. I also lived in the city. It’s magical.
ASIANCE: Did you like the photo shoot?
Bai Ling: We shot with my fur coat in the kitchen. I love the fur with the tomatoes. I like to do something artistic.
ASIANCE: The kitchen ones were great! Do you have a boyfriend?
Bai Ling: Haha. It’s private! It’s more mysterious and respectful. You need to put your energy to it or it’s not going to grow.
I think it’s really, really important to find your perfect lover…The one you want to have a family with. I have been living a very selfish life because I just take care of myself. When I go back home, I think “wow, if you have love that you can share with others, it’s so great”. When you think about a lifetime commitment to someone, that is huge. If you think, “I commit to you 100%”, it would be so much easier.
For New Years and Chinese New Year’s, it’s all about family. You want to be with your family.
ASIANCE: What does your family do for Chinese New Year?
Bai Ling: I already celebrated Chinese New Year in China. I was invited by the Prince of Brunei. I went to London. It was the 3rd most wanted party in the world. The Prince and his family are a fan of my work. I was in China with my family. They said you have to come for New Year’s. I said, “ok I’m going to go”. It’s amazing the change in seasons, just by traveling. In China, my mom just fed me until I got sick. She said, “I don’t care what you eat in the US but right now you are going to get stuffed!” I would sleep and then eat again.
ASIANCE: You don’t work out, do you?
Bai Ling: No, I’m just naturally healthy and thin. Your mind is your central station and your universe. I don’t watch what I eat. I live and enjoy the things I want to enjoy. Today the kids are suffering. Everyone is so conscious about what you eat. They become anxious and not happy. I don’t sleep much. If your mind is healthy, then your body is healthy. If you look at a person with an unhealthy body, then their mind is not healthy either. I firmly believe it is related. Your mind functions well and you look healthy too.
ASIANCE: What are you doing now in terms of your career?
Bai Ling: I have few movies in post production. When you are done filming, then you just wait. I have a few films in the works. I’ll be shooting a movie next month, another thriller. I’m shooting in Los Angeles. Then I have a lot of meetings coming up. My book is coming out. I just had a great meeting in New York.
ASIANCE: What is the book about?
Bai Ling: It’s about my experience as a little girl living in Tibet. It’s a fascinating story about a 14 year old girl, living in Tibet. It includes what she learned, what she was tortured by, what she was afraid of, what she learned in her own experience, not what she was taught. It’s cold, yet a beautiful spirit living in Tibet. What she understood about the Army, the uniform, the politics, the man, sex. What did she learn about sex? It’s a lot about what is sex. You learn by mistake or you learn by misguiding. It’s a very strict society. It’s very beautiful through a little girl’s perspective. When they read the story, they’ll be able to see how lucky they were that they all grew up here.
It’s a great publishing company and we’re working on it intensely right now. Hopefully, it’s out very soon.
The New Year has started out great for me. You really have to believe. Life is what you make of it.
ASIANCE: What do you think is in store for the year of the Rabbit?
Bai Ling: I feel like every year. My mindset is different than a lot of people. Everything is new and fresh. It’s like we’re reborn and especially for this year to unfold. Who’s going to call? Who am I going to go out with? What am I going to do today? That’s how I treat each day. Like a New Year’s Day. Like when I open the curtain in the morning and the sun peaks in and says, “Hello! Bai Ling! Do something!” It’s exciting from nature. That’s all I need. I’m always in a good mood the second I wake up in the day.
If we give out good energy, then we get it back. I have a great respect for Martin Luther King. He’s someone who achieves and commits to life, to good things and to their own talent and dreams. It’s very healthy, powerful and grateful.
Time is not in my universe. We have laws and pressure by society. Commitment is not limited by time. I feel like I’m very lucky. I’m not from here. I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t understand the culture. I think I’m lucky to have the gift.
I hope people will read this in your magazine and become positive. When you’re positive you have light. The light will affect people and lead you to more light. Light and love is meant to give. When you give, you will get. When you are freely giving, you will get more than what you expected. That is just how the universe works.
I enjoy friends, traveling, partying. I love all the snow in New York. Now I’m in the sun, in LA.
ASIANCE: What is your animal sign and what she thinks it’s going to be like?
Bai Ling: We don’t go over that. I don’t believe in that. Like right now myself, I love wild animals. In China, everyone goes for the Western side. I don’t believe in any of that. I believe in energy of nature and giving, loving and celebrating.
ASIANCE: What do you think of New York versus Chengdu.
Bai Ling: Chengdu has so many old traditional streets which have been made into very modern. There’s a lot of Western there. There’s a lot of local food and it’s very fancy. In China, it’s more about life, caring and sharing. In New York, people are more out for something. They’re after something. They want something. It’s a wanting and taking. In China, it’s more about enjoying and sharing. Travel a little bit and change your perspective.
Enjoy the New Year, give love and have faith!
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Photos by Arthur Eisenberg