[TRANS] Lay @ Vogue China August Issue


Zhang Yixing is not an idol who “goes by the book”. As a Chinese member of the Korean boy group EXO/EXO-M, developing in both countries has brought about some unseen-before new situations. He believes in hard work, respects the rules of winning and losing in a game, and is not afraid of breaking some established rules. The world is so big, and there are so many possibilities, if we have a try in everything, what if our dreams come true?
Zhang Yixing’s eyes had an untameable spirit, it’s a spirit that belongs solely to youths, hidden underneath politeness and humility, which added a kind of liveliness to his face. He is not an idol who “goes by the book”, he sticks to his own nature, doesn’t mind asking “why” a few more times, but with regards to the things he likes, he has always thrown himself in 100% and given all his focus.
Recently he, together with Sun Honglei, Huang Bo, Huang Lei, and other celebrities participated in a reality show together. He likes a show with this kind of format, in any case there is no script, completely being himself genuinely will do. Even if the audience see how “frightened” he is other than his unrestrained and unconventional idol image, he also feels happy.
He is the youngest of the participants, and on the first day he was assigned to the task of waking up Sun Honglei. “The way I was so “frightened” is really not an act. Sun Honglei’s way of speaking has a king of aggressiveness, and he’s the eldest senior, the production crew woke me up at 3am and assigned me the mission of knocking on his door, at that time I didn’t even know who was staying inside, when his voice spoke I became really nervous, afterall I’d only met him twice before!” Afterwards when he was “tricked” by Huang Bo to wash the dishes, he vaguely felt that it wasn’t very reliable, but still honestly followed instructions, completely in an adorkably “bullied” state, his idol burden had long been thrown far far away.
“I like this show, not only because there are elements of variety and competition, but because it talks about human nature.” During recording fans secretly tried to help him but was stopped by the production crew, he can only brace himself and experience the awkwardness of talking to strangers on the street. “On the streets I introduced myself to strangers, “I am Zhang Yixing, can you help me?” Some people just walked away immediately, some people widened their eyes and stared at me with an incredulous look, some people promised they would at first but secretly walked away later.” He feels that this basically “resulted in a divergence in his outlook on life”. “In this boundless universe why are the people who can lend a helping hand to me so few and scarce? Is there still real love in this world?”
Of course, that was just a temporary doubt. He’s not a child who grew up in a protected culture, “It’s always been me protecting myself, licking my own wounds.” As a child, although he did not like being the “ringleader of the kids”, but when there are opportunities to bring his talents into play he will not miss them. “Maybe those who can become celebrities mostly have a common skill, that is imitation. When I was young I liked to imitate teachers, of course when I was discovered I would be scolded soundly, but i felt that it can bring laughter to my classmates.” Among the kids in class who are labelled “mischievous” and given special attention, he is naturally one of them, some teachers in a moment of anger reproached him, “Who do you think you are?” “You’re not that great”, but this did not affect his confidence.


“Someone told me, if you are like this you won’t accomplish anything in the future. At that time I thought, one day if I really succeed, what kind of expressions will they look at me with?”
Right now he is considered an idol in all of Asia. When he has time, he will go back to his secondary school to take a look. “I always go back to visit my Teacher Yang, at that time no matter what others said, or felt that I was “poison”, he always firmly believed that I will succeed. Other teachers… when we see each other we will greet one another, with that kind of tacit understanding.” It’s not that he’s “taken a big revenge”, but the denials he received as a student made him understand this better, “If on one path you’ve done your utmost and devoted much effort but still did not succeed, do not be discouraged, there will be other things you can have accomplishments in. School results are definitely not an absolute standard to judge a person.”
In 2012, Zhang Yixing officially debuted in Korea with the stage name “LAY”, and became a member of the boy group EXO/EXO-M. Before that, he had experienced rather tough and long training. Even now, he gives his own ability to take care of himself zero marks. Although he’s been overseas for many years, almost all his energy is focused on improving his skills. Once, he practiced from day to night continuously for 2 or 3 days without going home, basically forgetting all about time. When a staff member saw him and asked why his teeth looked very yellow, that’s when he realized he had been practicing for dozens of hours without washing or sleeping. “My whole heart was thinking of how to get that move correct, like I was crazy.”
The high intensity training has of course left him with many injuries, before his debut, block therapy and injections were a common occurrence. “In my heart i only had one thought, that is to not let down those who treated me well. The competition among trainees is very intense, (I) could be eliminated any day. I thought, even if that day comes, I must walk out with my head held high, I cannot be a sorry sight.”
There was a period of about 2 and a half years when he did not rest a single day. After going through that stage of giving all his might, he feels that now he should adjust himself to a more reasonable pace. “It’s not that there are problems with my body, at most sometimes I would feel exhausted, but I’m starting to worry that one day my strength will not be equal to my will. Men can resist all kinds of things and stress without any problems, but the pre-condition is that the body must not collapse.”
Recently, the movie Yixing participated in has finished filming. This film is produced by Zhang Yimou, award-winning editor Wei Nan, and Zhang Ziyi together, and is of course anticipated by everyone. As an actor, Zhang Yixing feels that “it’s too fun”, “leaping out of my own life into the world of someone else to experience it, I feel that it’s very fresh.” The role is very similar to he himself, “In accepting this script I took this very seriously, of course my luck was very good too, I was able to receive a role that was similar to my real self in many areas. I am not like Honglei-ge, Huang Bo ge, the kind with acting skills, I have not found an acting trajectory that is most suitable for myself, so why not act as someone who is most similar to myself, while learning and grasping it it’d be easier to measure and compare.”
But this does not mean that he performed with utmost confidence. “I will still listen to the director, without having confidence blindly. When faced with criticism I am like this, if it is repeated too much conversely it will be useless on me, if the criticism cannot persuade me, it will be hard for me to understand.” The ideal standards he gave himself were already very high, “How great the pressure is in Korea, so great that my hair falls off.” He feels that he is like a spring, “The higher I jump, the greater the pressure I give myself.”

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