Bai Ling recalls how, as a child, she would look up at the sky with her grandmother and be told that she was the brightest star. She started believing it and decided she wanted to be a Hollywood star. Now, the Chinese-origin actor is a star not just in her own country, but also in Hollywood.
But the journey hasn't been easy. "I had done several Chinese films, but I loved New York's vibe and wanted to learn English. So I went there, and initially, it was difficult. But now, when I look back, I see a success story. I want people to believe that dreams can come true," says Ling, who has acted in films like Wild Wild West (1999) and Anna And The King (1999) in the past. She is currently in the city as a jury member at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival organised in association with Hindustan Times.
Ask the 48-year-old (saying she doesn't look her age would be an understatement) about dividing her time between two industries, and she says, "It's difficult, but it's a great learning process. Hollywood is big on special effects and glamour, while the Chinese make movies driven by emotions and reality."
Admittedly, the actor - who is judging the India Gold section of the festival - hasn't seen any Indian film. Then what brings her here? "I was sitting next to Anurag Kashyap at a beauty pageant, and we were discussing our work. He asked if I'd like to attend the festival, and here I am. I haven't watched any Hindi film, but I've heard that The Lunchbox (2013) is good. I met Ritesh Batra here, and I'd like to work with him," she says.
Battling jet-lag, Ling tells us she walked around Juhu for a while when she first arrived. She adds that the city's streets remind her of her hometown (Chengdu, in the Sichuan province of China). "I met some poor kids. They were so full of life... This is my first time in India, and I am way too excited to put my impression into words," says the international celebrity.
Hollywood actor of Chinese origin, Bai Ling, talks about moving to USA, learning English and balancing a film career in two major industries.