Have you ever noticed that among the older generation of actors or actress, there are significant differences from person to person in terms of looks and acting styles? However, the new actors and actresses seem to all look alike: big eyes, high noses, slim bodies, tender faces, etc. And their acting is all the same too; smile-grinning and cry-twitching. It begs the question: how are performing art schools picking their students these days?
Last week, the most famous Chinese acting school, Beijing Film Academy, finished its 2011 recruiting. 16,133 candidates applied, but the attrition rate for the acting department was around 99%. According to their website, the audition has four parts. The first includes a self-introduction, line reciting, assigned performances, and singing. Then the second test consists of group acting sketches. The third exam is composed of more professional acting. Finally, the whole process ends with a basic physical examination. It seems simple, but the reality is more complicated.
Hundreds of beautiful girls and handsome boys queue for a long time to hand in their applications. But during their study and after their graduations, there are only a few standouts. This year, Zhou Dongyu, the main actress in Zhang Yimou’s film Under the Hawthorn Tree, applied to Beijing Film Academy. Every year there a number of child stars that apply to these prestigious schools, edging out many of their non-famous (but perhaps equally skilled) counterparts.
Acting is a difficult profession to enter. From a very young age, kids start training in acting, singing, dancing and other performance areas. This requires huge financial sacrifices from their family members, and heaps of their time to boot. But when they get to the college auditions, the fierce competition turns the exams into beauty contests. Heavy make-up, beautiful faces (some applicants even get cosmetic surgery), and unique clothes often make the final difference.
Of course, actors serve to entertain and satisfy our artistic desire, both the desire for beauty and for uniqueness. But as much as we need the Angelina Jolie-like beauties, we also benefit from the uniqueness of a Mr. Bean or comedic stylings of the bald-headed Ge You.