Above: The little fresh meat actor had won awards for his performance in the film “Better Days“.
21-year-old Chinese actor and TFBoys member Jackson Yee (易烊千璽), who escalated to fame with the film Better Days <少年的你>, has generated online controversy following his decision to take up a job with the government-sponsored National Theater of China – as netizens felt he was competing with the average salaryman for a livelihood.
Dissolves His Company to Meet Criteria?
On 6 July, the National Theater of China released a notice which stated it has provisionally accepted Yee, along with Luo Yizhou (羅一舟) and Hu Xianhu (胡先煦) as actors.
Evoking debate was the fact that all three celebrities had already signed on with management companies and took on acting jobs before graduating, which defied entry regulations. Hu Xianhu left his former company Enlight Media on January 12 this year after his contract ended and Jackson had applied to dissolve his own filmmaking company on July 4 this year.
Inside sources revealed that three rounds of interviews following written tests were requirements for entry, but Jackson was apparently accepted after going for just one interview. With doubts cast over his hukou eligibility as well, the matter became a trending topic on social media platform Weibo, centering on the fairness of the exams and whether the three had special rights due to their celebrity status.
Bread-and-butter Issues Stir Up Sentiments
Given that Jackson Yee is one of the top actors in China, Hu Xianhu was a child actor and was filming before graduation, and Luo Yizhou is the captain of boy group IXFORM, it was clear that the three had attained fame and were earning much higher incomes than the average citizen.
With the economic climate in recent years making it harder to secure employment, netizens expressed discontent about the three celebrities taking up positions with the government-sponsored theater which came with social security and benefits — even though the three do not usually perform at the National Theater of China. On the other hand, some expressed support as they felt that since many veteran actors from the National Theater would also take part in television dramas and films, it did not matter as long as the stars had been accepted based on merit.
As the matter continued to escalate, representatives of the National Theater of China responded on July 8, stating that the name lists were a publicity notice and that those listed had yet to be officially accepted, adding that the strong responses it has evoked would be shared with the authorities.
One of China’s most popular young actors, Yee was the first post-2000 celebrity to rake in more than RMB10 billion at the box office and has twice topped Forbes China Celebrity List in 2020 and 2021. In 2018, he was admitted into the Central Academy of Drama’s department of acting after emerging first in arts entry examinations.