Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Flavour of the Month: Barbie Hsu

Barbie Hsu (徐熙媛, pinyin: Xú Xīyuàn), Taiwanese actress and TV show host, had a busy February that included a wedding announcement, a retirement and an award (albeit of the wrong kind).
Barbie Hsu in (Photoshopped) wedding dress - thanks Xinmin website

Earlier last month Hsu announced a wedding date for her marriage to multi-millionaire restaurateur Wang Xiaofei - to be held in the Chinese resort city of Sanya on Hainan island on March 22. It's actually the second ceremony for the two; in November last year they also got married, but in a low-key affair in Beijing almost immediately after announcing their engagement. Low-key understates it - not even the couple's parents attended the civil ceremony. The second ceremony will be much more extravagant, with Wang reportedly planning to spend NT$2.5 million (or US$85,000) on the occasion.

The Mainland-born Wang is an executive director with the restaurant chain South Beauty Restaurants. His father is the founder and chairman of the group, a business that reportedly has a net worth of NT$11.5 billion. The 29 year old Wang certainly has a way with the women. Previous girlfriends include actresses Zhang Ziyi and Kitty Zhang, and he can now add Hsu to the list of photogenic conquests.

Soon after the wedding announcement, Barbie Hsu also revealed that she would take a break from movies for an indefinite period. She said that she hoped to have children soon, adding fuel to the rumours that she is already pregnant. Those rumours first surfaced after her surprise engagement announcement in October last year and subsequent hasty initial marriage. Although Hsu has said she won't be making any movies or TV shows, she hasn't closed the door on lucrative TV commercials. She is already a serial endorser of products and services; Wikipedia's entry on her lists 21 brands that she promotes.

Not everyone will mourn the halt to her acting career. The Golden Broom awards, China's equivalent to the Golden Raspberries, last month nominated Hsu in the Most Disappointing Actress category. Hsu wasn't nominated for just one performance but three: Future X-Cops, Adventure of the King, and Reign of Assassins. I haven't seen the first two so can't comment, although she has already won a Golden Donkey, Taiwan's version of the Golden Raspberries, for Adventure of the King. The nomination for Reign of Assassins however seems a bit harsh, but unfortunately for Hsu, she has built a reputation over the years. Say the name Barbie Hsu and Chinese almost inevitably comment on her bad acting, and at times it seems like an almost knee-jerk reaction.

Hsu started her showbiz career initially as a singer, in a girl group called ASOS with her younger sister Dee Hsu. The two went on to acheive greater fame as co-hosts of the Taiwanese TV variety show, 100% Entertainment, a gig they held from 1998 to 2005. Hsu's career really took off in 2001 when she starred in the hit Taiwanese idol drama Meteor Garden and its sequel Meteor Garden II the following year. She is a regular on the FHM's Sexiest Women in the World lists and was also voted one of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarians in 2009.

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