Leading Men: Chinese Celebrities to Follow - Arts & Culture

The Chinese entertainment media may have been overshadowed in recent years, but their industry is thriving. Here are a few male celebrities to look out for.

READ ALSO: Crossing Borders: Chinese Idols In K-Pop

Xiao Zhan

Xiao Zhan, also known as Sean Xiao, was born on October 5, 1991, in Chongqing. He has a degree from the Modern International Art Design Academy at Chongqing Technology and Business University.

Xiao was working as a graphic designer and photographer when a teacher encouraged him to participate in an idol reality show X-Fire. In 2016, he debuted with eight other members in the group X-Nine as a main vocal.

In addition to singing, Xiao started acting, and it was in 2019 when he made his breakthrough in the xianxia-genre (fantasy) drama The Untamed, based on the web-novel Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. 

Portraying the main character Wei Wuxian, whose quest for righteousness and many sacrifices leads him towards a dark path and back to the light, gave Xiao many positive reviews and a large, thriving fan base. The show aired on Tencent Video and has gained 10 billion views by December 2021, and is available to watch on Netflix.

Since then, Xiao’s dramas have all been successful, which has given him endorsements with international luxury brands like Estée Lauder, Tod’s, Ralph Lauren, and most recently Gucci. As proof of his star power, the announcement of his ambassadorship sparked a massive shopping spree in China.

Wang Yibo

If the cards fell the other way, Xiao’s co-lead on The Untamed Wang Yibomight have been included in yesterday’s article on Chinese idols in K-pop.

Wang, born on August 5, 1997, in Luoyang, Henan, is a member of the currently inactive Chinese-Korean group UNIQ. Like Xiao, his greatest success has been in acting. In The Untamed, he portrays the initially cold and standoffish Lan Wangji.

Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo singing the OST of The Untamed

After multiple hardships and heartbreaks, the character exposes himself to feelings that broaden his worldview. Wang’s minute facial expressions of love (and exasperation) are one of the most endearing things in the show.


After the show, he has since released more music, which has broken records on the Chinese charts: No Sense sold six-million digital copies within 20 minutes of the release, exceeding 30m Yuan in sales. He was made a captain on the dance competition show Street Dance of China in 2020, and in two years, two members of his team have won the entire challenge.

An in-demand brand ambassador, Wang has endorsed Shu Uemura, Audi and is the youngest brand ambassador of Chanel in China. He is currently the face of Chinese sportswear brand Anta, the official sports apparel partner of the Beijing 2022 Olympics.


Lu Han, known as Luhan, was born in April 20, 1990, in Haidian, Beijing. He was an exchange student at the prestigious Yonsei University, one of South Korea’s premier SKY institutions, standing for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University.

After being scouted by SM Entertainment scouted him, he joined the company in 2010, he debuted as a member of EXO in 2012, before he left the group in 2014.

As a solo artist in China, Luhan has reached great success. His first digital album Reloaded I was released in September 2015 on the QQ Music charts and sold 880,000 copies on the first day, making it the highest recorded sales number on the first day of the official release.

Each subsequent release onwards has sold higher and higher, the latest being in 2019, where the single album π-volume.1 and repackage π-volume.2 sold for a combined 4.6 million copies.

The “Luhan Effect” is a term used by the media to describe his influence on his dedicated fan base. An endorser of many international brands, in 2016 he was named the first Asian endorsement model of Cartier SA. Lately, he is the global face of Gucci Beauty. 


Dong Si Cheng, known as Winwin, was born in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, on October 28, 1997. A top student at the Central Academy of Drama, where he specialized in traditional Chinese dance.

Winwin was scouted by SM Entertainment for two years because he wasn’t sure if the scouts were legitimate (he kept giving the wrong phone number when they would ask for his contacts).

He finally entered the company in 2015, was named an SM Rookie in January 2016, and debuted in NCT 127 in July of the same year with the other members. After promoting with 127 for a few years, SM put him in NCT’s China-based subgroup WayV, which debuted in 2019.


Winwin spent 2021 in China for the filming of his drama The Shadow, to be released in 2022. He has modeled for multiple brands, including Bottega Veneta, Loewe, Charlotte Tilbury, and Gentle Monster. 

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