Billed as the modern rendition of The Story of Ming Lan <知否? 知否? 應是綠肥紅瘦>, Story of Joy <承歡記> was rumored from early on to star lead actors Yang Zi (楊紫) and Xu Kai (許凱) in their first-ever onscreen pairing. The catch is that being a female lead-centric drama, the male protagonist – Xu Kai will thus have to play second fiddle to Yang Zi, which evoked objecting voices from his fans. However, Xu Kai’s manager Yu Zheng (于正) has long professed his admiration for Yang Zi, and thus eagerly pushed for the collaboration, despite the protest from fans.
Yang Zi Doesn’t Want Xu Kai to Address Her as “Teacher”
Adapted from Chinese romance novelist Yi Shu’s (亦舒) same-titled work, the story follows Mai Cheng Huan who marries her boyfriend under parental pressure, but eventually ends the unequal relationship. Despite this, she gains the approval of her maternal elder, and is entrusted with the management of a hotel business. Learning the ropes of the trade from hotel manager Yao Zhi Ming, the two develop closeness and Mai Cheng Huan embarks on a journey of self-development to come into her own in the inspiring and motivational story arc.
Appearing at the drama’s press conference, Yang Zi and Xu Kai’s easy chemistry was apparent as the two had long known each other in private, despite it being their first time working together. Xu Kai even addressed Yang Zi as “teacher”, which caused her to blurt out with shyness, “No need to call me (teacher)”!
Plot Focus on Female Lead’s Growth
Asked about what drew her to Story of Joy, Yang Zi replied that it was her character Cheng Huan. “(She) is someone who starts off being close to her parents, but will eventually morph into the epitome of a modern woman, that got me interested. Full of praise for the production cast and crew, the actress said, “It’s my first time acting with Xu Kai, and he’s also an outstanding (actor)!”
Calling his onscreen persona a “challenge”, Xu Kai describes Yao Zhi Ming as having a cold and selfish personality as a result of his family upbringing and living conditions, and someone who would “turn unscrupulous for personal benefit”. Effusive in his praise for his co-star, Xu Kai called her a “professional and dedicated” actress, amid friendly banter.