A testing time is explored in gaokao TV show
 updatetime:2019-08-08 10:49:25   Views:0 Source:China Daily


Huang's on-screen family in the series.[Photo provided to China Daily]

With China's college entrance exam proving to be a watershed in his own life, Huang Lei examines how gaokao can strain, and strengthen, familial bonds in his latest TV drama, Xu Fan reports.

At 18 years old, after concluding gaokao-China's college entrance exams-Huang Lei was admitted to the Beijing Film Academy.

While he was there, he was lucky enough to be offered a lead role in the art house film Life on A String by renowned director Chen Kaige, which was due to be shot in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

That was in 1990, when most urban families in China earned around 100 yuan ($14.2) per month. Huang's father, an established artist, saw him off at the railway station in Beijing and gave him 90 yuan, which Huang cautiously divided into several smaller amounts and hid in different places about his person and possessions to keep it from being stolen.

Those last minutes where his father waved

to bid him farewell have been etched in Huang's mind for decades.

For the actor, scriptwriter and director who will turn 48 years old in December, gaokao was a watershed moment in his life.

From his point of view, the exam was not just about enrolling in an excellent college, but also about the huge impact it had on his family.


Cast and crew members promote the production in Beijing on July 30.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"My nephew became a college freshman in September last year. I witnessed how anxious and stressed my sister, her husband and my parents were during the yearlong process of helping the youngster prepare for the exam," he recalls.

Personally, as a father of three children, he has also started to imagine how to handle the loneliness after his children leave for university.

All these moments have provided the inspiration for A Little Reunion, a TV series adapted from best-selling writer Lu Yingong's novel of the same name, in which Huang both stars and serves as the chief scriptwriter.

As a loose sequel of the highly-rated 2015 TV series A Love for Separation, A Little Reunion has aired on Dragon TV and Zhejiang Television, as well as on streaming sites Tencent Video and iQiyi since July 31.

Also starring veterans Hai Qing, Tao Hong, Sha Yi, Yong Mei and Wang Yanhui, the 49-episode drama follows the fortunes of three families as they prepare their children, who are all in their last year of senior high school, for gaokao.

With the storyline unfolding across three households-respectively, those of a middle-class couple with an averagely-performing, yet optimistic, son and a genius nephew; a couple who are divorced, but reunite for the sake of their daughter; and a pair of officials with a rebellious son-the drama is a reflection of life for thousands of families in China, says Huang.

"Gaokao has been a collective memory for generations of Chinese," he explains.

"It's a heartwarming story that reflects real life. As we are living in a peaceful and prosperous era, where few need to worry about food or survival, it is changes or twists in life-such as striving for a good college or landing a decent job-that become the dramatic elements to form a relatable story," he explains.


A scene from popular TV series A Little Reunion shows Huang Lei as an anxious father (center) waiting for his son, who is attending the national college entrance exams.[Photo provided to China Daily]

With more Chinese students seeking advanced education overseas at a younger age, Huang says he believes the exam is no longer the only option for a family.

In his personal life, Huang says he is an open father who respects and nurtures his own children's differing personalities.

Earlier this year, Huang's wife, actress Sun Li, posted a photo on Sina Weibo which revealed that their eldest child, 13-year-old Huang Duoduo, had dyed her hair from black to dark purple.

The post caused a stir online, quickly becoming one of the most discussed topics on the micro-blogging platform. While some users gave their progressive approach to parenting the thumbs-up, some were concerned that it may prove to have a negative influence on young people.

"I never care about internet chatter. When Duoduo asked me if she could dye her hair, I responded, 'why not?' Actually she dyed her hair twice. The first time, her hair was dyed pink, but the color faded too soon, so she opted for dark purple," recalls Huang.

Finding fame at an early age by starring in several influential films, Huang established a reputation as a versatile artist, as well as performing on stage, releasing albums, writing books and excelling as a cook.

Now, however, the star has a new ambition, one that he hopes will keep him occupied for the next few decades.


Parents gather outside a school which is holding the exams in the series.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Huang reveals he quit his job teaching acting at the Beijing Film Academy in May, a position he has held since 1997, and will shift his focus to establishing his own acting college.

"The college is not going to be for professionals, but for those who love the stage and want to take up acting for the sheer enjoyment of it," he says.

He says the plan was inspired by Shi Yigong, who stepped down as the former vice-president at Tsinghua University to co-found and head up the Westlake University, which aims to become an elite private world-class research institution-the first of its kind in China.

"Why should an acting major make becoming a star their only pursuit? Such a school won't cost a lot, I just need a room and perhaps several cups of tea, and then I can teach the students how to perform," he says.

"I'll turn 50 in two years, and it will be a good time to make a new start on the next 30 years," concludes the actor.

Web Editor:MXJ