Grazia Sep 2, 2015 article translation
Liu Wen finally enjoys her youth
The Fall/Winter photoshoot this time was done just after Liu Wen's vacation. She was in good spirits, uncharacteristically wore a dress, and even said herself, "This is rare. I don't know what's with me today." In between shoots, she smilingly took the initiative to talk about her holiday. Her staff all said they can sense that Liu Wen finally learnt how to take a break, finally understands how to relax. In the past, even when she was on holiday, she would always keep thinking about work. "This year, she totally rejected all work and had a complete rest," her manager said.
Early August every year, Liu Wen would go on vacation with her parents. This year, after much consideration, she decided on Sichuan - they went to Dujiangyan, climbed Qingcheng mountain, and even went to see the pandas. The reason for not travelling far is simple - she only had a week, so did not wish to waste time on the road. "A few years ago, we went to Shangri-la. They had altitude sickness, my father suffered from vomiting and diarrhea in Lijiang, and was very sick. Before they were fully recovered, I had to go back to work, and could not stay with them. That's why I want to give them the most comfortable, enjoyable vacation within a limited period of time. So we stayed behind Qingcheng mountain, which is a fair distance away from the city. My work requires me to be in contact with many people, always to be in bustling places. It is a rare opportunity to be able to stay in the mountainside. It feels really peaceful, beautiful, a comfortable feeling," Liu Wen said.
To date, for this year's Fall/Winter, Liu Wen has accepted 7 advertisements [CFs?] and counting. "I don't always follow her on her overseas work. I cannot take it after flying with her half the time. 3 to 4 countries in a week, going straight to work once we get off the plane - totally pressed for time." Even her closest manager dares not imagine how much of a workaholic she is. On the day of the shooting, they worked from 10am all the way to 9pm. After the interview, the staff invited her to go for dinner, but she was sitting at the dressing room, changing her makeup. "There is a video shoot after this."
Over the 10 years since her debut, she had never lacked for work, and we are used seeing her full of vitality. Who would have thought that this year, she suddenly fell sick and had to be admitted to the hospital. "This is the first time I have seen her faint and throw up since I've known her. It truly frightened me," her manager said. During this interview, she kept mentioning her age - 27 years old, and said, "All the assistants that I've met are born in the 90s, so I always joke that I was born after year 2000. But it does not worry me, because this represents stability, just like how I did not know what being sexy meant. However, the 27 year old me - although not having much romantic experience, already knows that [it can be expressed] through a look of the eyes, or a word. This could only have been inhabited in the person I am today. If you had asked the 20 year old me, I possibly would not have known how to answer." When she spoke of her age, she would often associate it with change, such as being more feminine in what she wears: "This year, I really wish to try wearing high boots. Before I would never touch them, but I feel that a 27 year old woman must look her age, to be more feminine. Right now, I am still in between being feminine and tomboy. I am still not comfortable being overly feminine."
Another point that kept being brought up is "enjoyment". "Now, I really enjoy time away from work. Previously, they said that I was someone who had no childhood, but now I'm different. For example, this time when I went to Chengdu, I was mocked for not even knowing how to play mahjong. Now, I am able to ride a bicycle, I know how to regulate my breath when I am swimming. Next, I wish to learn how to bake, because I always had a dream to open a small dessert shop or café, to enjoy the baking process, then sharing it with others." Is this the same workaholic whom her manager herself described as "being insecure if she has no work the next day"? "Perhaps as I grow older, I slowly realised that [living] life is really important. There is no need to be totally focused on work. Instead, there must be time to enjoy one's youth. Material things can be obtained any time, but time with the family is very important, enjoying one's youth is also very important. Um, it's almost the end of my 27th year, the start of my 8th year, so it is high time to enjoy the best years of my life."
Every year, Liu Wen will give herself a challenge. Last year, she did the video program "Wen Li". This year, she joined the reality show "Let Us Fall In Love". "Before accepting the program, we wrestled with the idea for some time. She has phobia for men. When asked for her phone number, she would never give it out, and could not wait to escape," her manager said. "She really never had a relationship. However, I felt that once her career has reached a certain stage, she needs to have some in her life... so I said, 'Just give it a go. In the program, there are 60-70 people helping to plan, how to go on dates. There are even make-up artists and stylists to help you. We joked and said this is a golden opportunity that she won't get in real life. As such, we asked her to relax and enjoy the feeling of being in love."
Before she joined the show, Liu Wen applied her diligence by watching Korea's "We Got Married" and some other talk shows, as well as filming two more seasons of her own program "Wen Li", to gain more experience facing the camera, before feeling more at ease to accept it. "At the time, I didn't worry about it too much, and felt that this is a job." Only when she finally arrived on location for the reality show filming, did she realise that this challenge was harder than she expected. There was 7 to 8 cameramen, over 10 equipment following her. In the beginning, she was not allowed to speak English, and there was also no translator by her side, so the atmosphere was very awkward. "After filming the first week in Seoul, I realised that it really was not as easy as I thought, so I told my manager, 'My God, I am about to collapse. I want to go home. I didn't know what to say, and my body could not move." Next to her, her manager added, "It was only up to the 3rd or 4th episode that she really looked properly at Choi Siwon. Before that, she was so nervous that she dared not not look directly at him." "Actually, even to the last episode, my feelings were still the same - I did not know how to express myself," Liu Wen said.
Many viewers love this nervous, demure girl, feeling that she is very unaffected, innocent, adorable, coming across as being totally real. She herself did not rate herself as favourably: "What I displayed was all my weaknesses [literally: black hole] From the program, you can see that I don't know anything. I had no experience in a relationship, I learnt to bake on the spot, I didn't even know how to ride a bike... it felt like all my weaknesses are exposed on the show. The only [good] thing is that I feel I am quite brave, to go skydiving. Before, I always wanted to try it because I never really enjoyed gentler sports activities, but preferred rock climbing, horse riding etc. Skydiving means totally trusting in the trainer, and letting him control everything... this is a huge challenge. Once I did it, I realised that I too could be this brave."
"Being on the reality show enabled me to change a lot, including daring to talk to people, to mingle, including flirting with the camera etc. In a reality show, we are not allowed to look at the camera, so much so that even now when I am doing photoshoots, I would avoid looking at the camera, and when the photographer says "Look at me. Look at me", I would be disoriented momentarily, thinking 'Wasn't I not supposed to look at the camera?'"
After the program aired, the response was even better than expected. More people came and asked for photos or autographs, and her fanbase age range increased. Previously, most of those who loved fashion were young women. However, during her transit in Tokyo the other day, she met a 50+ year old couple who told Liu Wen, "We are really optimistic about you and your 'boyfriend'". At this, Liu Wen was a little embarrassed: "It is not that I am not willing to take photos together or sign autographs. It's just that my first reaction is to feel extremely shy and unsure. In addition, I am a woman who is not good in expressing my feelings. I did not know that I would be so well-received, and I am truly grateful. Perhaps, previously everyone's impression of me was of a model. Now, everyone knows what kind of a woman I am. This is a beautiful story, one that will be a very lovely memory when I am old."
Alongside [the popularity] comes, not only attacks, but fans who are profuse with their opinions and advice. Since these bring negativity, she blocked her Weibo comments in order not to affect her mood during the time with her parents. "Actually, I am a very straightfoward person. I take what people say seriously, but I am the kind of person who is willing to accept and give out positive energy. For example, I can behave a little silly while on shoots, in hopes that everyone would happily and smoothly complete their work and go home."
Would blocking her Weibo comments really enable her to feel more at ease? "Every woman will have her temper tantrums, her moods. So while the comments are blocked, it will be open again one day." Liu Wen said (at this time, there was a pouty tone, which everyone understands). "I am a girl after all! Although I am a 27 year old woman, but sometimes I will also have my little girl moods. Surely everyone can understand?"
So... everyone is saying both of you have gone from reel to real? "What does going from reel to real mean? Ahahah I don't understand. My Chinese is not good hahaha." Liu Wen laughingly answered. This statement sounds familiar.