Lay Zhang Responds to Criticism Over His Acting

Although urban emotional drama, Challenges at Midlife <相逢時節>, is regarded as one of the most promising Chinese dramas by mature viewers, Lay Zhang’s (張藝興) acting was criticized.  His performance has been obviously lacking compared to his experienced co-stars Lei Jiayin (雷佳音) and Yuan Quan (袁泉).

Some viewers point out that Lay has not improved in his acting skills over the years. However, others sympathize and understand that he is an idol and a singer, and his vengeful character as Ning Shu in Challenges at Midlife is likely too complex for Lay to handle.

“His past is very complex. He experienced pain – both physical and psychological. All in all, he’s not a person who would forgive others easily and certainly not someone who goes easy on himself,” Lay expresses.

As the series goes on, Ning Shu progressively gets darker and more evil. On playing such a challenging role, Lay adds, “Ning Shu is a tragic character and is someone who is very challenging to play. It was so hard to get into character, because I don’t have an acting background. I didn’t receive any professional training or went to school for acting. I can only explore and learn on my own. And it’s true – acting is not my strength. I hope to continue learning through various roles – no matter how big or little the role is, I’m willing to try and  learn.”

He feels fortunate to have worked with caring and kind seniors such as Lei Jiayin, Yuan Quan, and Luo Qiong (羅瓊) who were willing to share their approach towards acting. Lay would also ask for guidance from the director, who praised him for being “highly motivated and eager to learn.”

“Challenges at Midlife” Trailer

Source: World Journal

This article is written by Su for

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  1. I am a very soft spot for Lay. I respect him a lot as a person and artiste. Whilst his EXO team-members broke their contract with their Korean management company. He never did…he negotiated with them to work in China whilst still staying on in his contract.
    He is extremely hardworking young man who is humble and respectful towards others. He does not invite scandals as he does not get distracted by other enjoyments. Watching him in different variety shows, I can cautiously guess, Lay seem to show signs of mild autism… His fans, please do not be offended. This is based on my professional observations but my comments is just my own opinion…. You are entitled to yours.

    I really dont know if acting is a career that suits him. But with a suitable role, he may do well… but he will never be a all-rounded actor. He may struggle with fluffy romance stories and romcoms.

    Lay is fortunate to be well liked by many seniors in the industry. They are happy to help him progress and develop. And I bet they all trust Lay alot as a person. As Lay is very transparent and clean hearted young man.

    I sincerely hope to see Lay more in this industry…I believe he is one that never gives up easily… he will learn and work very hard to better himself.

    1. OMG @Hohliu you are great! That’s it! I like Lay a lot as a person, he seems nice and hardworking, music is cute, dancing impeccable, but sometimes it is painful to watch and he might seem a bit slow. He is on the spectrum, that explains it all. He must be working even harder than I thought. My respect for him just went up! Yes, agree, all round acting career might be a challenge for him but in some roles he might be brilliant. It is interesting that he has chosen a career of entertainer. That is truly uncommon.

      1. Lay is a very intelligent guy and extremely hardworking young man. In Back to Field, It is so beautiful to see how He Jiong and Huang Lei trying to get him to rest and enjoy life abit more. His mum also ask Huang Lei to take care of Lay and guide him to rest.
        I grow to like Lay after watching him in a couple reality shows. He is really enduring.

    2. Oh, that’s interesting, it never crossed my mind that he may be on the spectrum. Can you give a few reasons as to why you came to that guess/conclusion?

      1. Lay was in a number of reality shows. Just observing him at work and his interaction with others… You can see he is unique. His level of focus and concentration towards the things he does is extremely high. Social skills is not his strength but he is very enduring thus many seniors will take him under their wings. There are other signs, I will not get into details..
        Again, please dont quote me as I am just sharing my thoughts.

  2. Lay is still young he’ll have plenty of chance in the future, I do hope to see him more active as EXO member at the moment as we know idol band won’t last long.

  3. I commend Lay for selecting such a complex role. I’m sure he has room for growth since he’s fairly green in the acting department. He has a few series under his belt, but he’s not a trained actor. He seems like a very dedicated artist, so I have faith he’ll continue to hone his skills. At least he’s not always signing up to do idol dramas that require little to no skill.

  4. I also have a soft spot for Lay and also respect him for staying with EXO. He has a certain innocence which I find very endearing. Interesting to read your views of mild Autism/Aspergers? He is certainly liked by his peers.

  5. I give him the credit that he is not taking leading roles like so many idols or artists who are painful to watch but somehow continue to be the leading characters. He probably would not lack such opportunities.
    However, if his acting needs improvement and that he acknowledges this, is he or has he considered taking up acting classes?

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