It is hard to define what Xiao Yang does.
He rose to fame in the pop duo Chopsticks Brothers, best known for their songs Old Boys, Father and Little Apple. Now he stars in the new suspense movie Sheep Without a Shepherd, which came out on Dec 13. The 39-year-old plays a brave and tactful father.
Joan Chen, who co-stars in the movie, described Xiao as a “rare actor with the skills of multiple perspectives”.
From a well-known singer to a successful actor, Xiao’s transformation has surprised many people. It’s a natural fit for Xiao, however, given his educational background and life experiences.
Majoring in commercial direction at Beijing Film Academy, Xiao did lots of part-time jobs as a commercial actor to pay his tuition fees. He gradually learned the acting and directing skills. Even after joining the Chopsticks Brothers in 2005, he never gave up creating his own films. While his partner Wang Taili wrote the songs, Xiao wrote and directed the screenplays for their mini movies and music videos.
The duo peaked in 2014, when Little Apple became a global internet sensation. For the video, Xiao came up with a novel idea: to show the most tragic love stories he could think of. “Plastic surgery gone wrong, a wartime romance and a mermaid and prince forever apart,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
People loved his idea. The song won International Song of the Year at the American Music Awards, bringing Xiao new chances to act and promote himself. However, the sudden fame and wealth weren’t easy for Xiao to live with. He began to rethink what he really wanted from life. He told Culture Spotlight website, at that time, he heard from deep in his heart that he “wants to create more good visual works in this era”.
So, he returned to the film industry. Compared with being a singer, Xiao is more comfortable with the role of an actor, as he gets to portray different lives.
“For me, it’s a healing process to be an actor, presenting the emotions that cannot be shown in real life through various characters,” Xiao said on the Mtalk program.