Yao Chen: ’77 million Followers? It’s not so much…’

DUBAI, UAE, May 6, 2015/PRNewswire — Forget Kim Kardashian – with more than 70 million social media followers, actress Yao Chen’s reach is beyond human comprehension. The ‘Queen of Weibo’ discusses notoriety and humanitarianism with Vision’s Joy Yang Lu

It’s a cold February in Beijing. Outside the Ritz-Carlton, biting winds and temperatures of three degrees have reduced poplars lining the street to icy statues, with passers-by, swathed in fleece and goose-down, hurrying to get home.


Inside the hotel, the scene is very different. Yao Chen – arguably the most famous woman in China – stands in a front room, clad in a white dress and skyscraper heels, and besieged by journalists.

Shortly due to attend a press conference, the actress and social media guru gamely attempts to answer even the most inane questions from the throng of reporters clamouring around her, each begging for a piece of her time. In the end, everyone comes away satisfied; they have got their quotes and are rewarded with the mega-smile that has gained Yao the nickname of Bakasura (rough translation: “big mouth”).

Followers of Yao’s Weibo account – a Chinese blogging site that is a mixture of Twitter and Facebook – may recall, back in 2009, when she messaged: “A woman in high heels is like a woman wearing an artificial limb.” Yet today, Yao remains a consummate professional, wearing the armour of femininity expected by her public without a murmur of complaint.

When we meet later, the heels are swiftly replaced with sneakers, and an explanation. “I love to make people happy,” Yao says.

However she does it, it’s working. Yao’s ascent to her current status as Chinese national treasure has been meteoric. Just eight years ago, the now 35-year-old actress was at the beginning of her career, playing a ditzy girl-next-door on Chinese martial arts comedy My Own Swordsman. The TV show was a phenomenon, airing over 100 episodes, and Yao caught the public’s attention.

She is popular because of her accessibility – conventionally attractive, but not intimidatingly beautiful.

Nor does she play femmes fatales: she is primarily known as a comedic actress, similar to Jennifer Aniston. Moreover, her working-class background her father was a train driver and her mother worked at the post office – adds to her aura of moderateness, something encouraged in China.

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