Xiao Zhan (Chinese: 肖战 ) was born on October 5th, 1991, also known as Sean Xiao, is a Chinese actor and singer. He is one of the members of the popular male idol group “X Nine” under Wajijiwa Entertainment. Zhan received widespread recognition for his roles in the dramas “Oh! My Emperor (2018),” and The Untamed (2019).
– Edited by TheFNGee
Xiao debuted in 2016, along with eight other trainees in the idol group X NINE, as the main vocal artist. X NINE released their first mini-album X Jiu in September 2016. On September 29th, 2019, Xiao Zhan established his own studio, “XZ Studio.” Forbes China lists Xiao Zhan under their “Under 30 Asia 2019” list, which consisted of 30 influential people under 30 years old who have had a substantial effect in their fields.
Xiao Zhan As an Actor
Xiao Zhan had already earned positive reviews for his character role of a gentle yet domineering Prince in historical romance web drama Oh! My Emperor. But he gained global recognition for his enigmatic portrayal of Wei Wuxian in popular Xianxia drama The Untamed. The show’s increased viewership established his reputation as a bankable actor and skyrocketed his career as one of the most popular Chinese Actors ever.
The main reason for the popularity of this adaptation is not just the unique storyline or the extensive cast, but the slow burn chemistry between the main leads Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. Unlike Lan Wangji, who had a distinct lack of expressions, Wei Wuxian was on the opposite side of the tandem. The show’s producers had carefully crafted these two character’s personalities, and the main leads bought them to life. Looking back, I cannot imagine anyone else playing this character with the same depth Xiao Zhan. Wei Wuxian’s storyline had several layers, and each one revealed a different facet of his personality. Wei Wuxian is a prodigy when it comes to cultivation skills, entirely cocky, mischievous, and devoted to his siblings while being absolutely in love with our Ice Prince “Lan Wangji.”
Xiao Zhan made “Wei Wuxian” seem entirely humane, with his conviction that bordered on being truthful to this larger than life character. I must honestly confess that when I started watching the show, it was entirely to swoon over Wang Yibo. But two episodes later, I couldn’t help falling for this mischievous rebel who questioned age-old traditions and had the capacity to command greater evil. Yet, time and again, despite being tempted, he always chooses the right path. I think the biggest strength that this character displayed was the carefree attitude to life. Wei Wuxian may be swamped with problems, but he never stops smiling or facing them head-on. Xiao Zhan embodied Wei Wuxian’s risque attitude, along with his rebellious nature perfectly.
Every time Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian meet, a sweet suite of familiar music plays, and it draws on your heartstrings. Though their journey starts with major fights because of the difference of opinions, it is appropriate to point out that Lan Wangji intrigues Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian has never met anyone who can match his sword-fighting skills, and his curious nature draws him closer to Lan Wangji. Xiao had to react in tandem with Lan Wangji’s expressionless demeanor and hold the audience’s attention. Xiao manages to hold his own and turn Wei Wuxian iconic!
Wei Wuxian has to fight his way through Lan Wangji’s cold demeanor, but he succeeds. Their journey begins as they try to uncover the mystery behind the lost Yin metal pieces and stop the Wen clan leader’s nefarious plans of world domination. But slowly, it diverges into friendship and then into a life-long commitment – a bond that stays strong even after 16 years of separation.
When Wei Wuxian reincarnates as Mo Xuanyu, the first person he remembers is Lan Wangji. You can see his confusion, yet the first memory he has is of his Soulmate, Lan Wangji. There are viable changes in Wei Wuxian’s character after he comes back. The once rebel is now laid back, careful, and also scared. He has to hide his existence from the very family that he once held dear. Zhan depicted this role with honesty that made the audiences empathize with him.
Before long, Wei Wuxian is yet again drawn into controversies and sets out to investigate the real culprit behind Jin Jixuan and his dear sister Yanli’s death. And this time following him on this journey is not just Lan Wangji but also their adoptive son Lan Sizhui. With Nie Huaisang’s assistance, they uncover how Jin Guangyao carefully planned and executed the entire scheme and bring him to justice. You have to appreciate the fact that throughout the series, Xiao Zhan’s acting was consistent. He didn’t falter and bought exuberance to this larger-than-life character that delighted audiences across the globe.
His Chemistry with Wang Yibo
WangXian’s love story is agonizing yet powerful, spanning almost two decades. The fact that makes it different from the other Chinese Bromance dramas is the honest depiction of their relationship. Although explicitly gay scenes were deleted from the novel by Mo Dao Zu Shi due to Chinese restrictions, the producers created a palpable love story marked with soulful longing gazes and life long promises of commitment.
Wei Wuxian is an orphan, but that doesn’t mean his life is devoid of familial relationships. The most important being his Shijie, Jiang Yanli, who obviously understands his unusual fascination with Lan Wangji and wholeheartedly approves of it too. He lost his family and gained another with the Jiang’s. This fact is what draws him to the lonely soul – Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian sees through the facade and wants to fill Lan Wangji’s life with laughter and colors.
His efforts never cease as Wei Wuxian slowly draws Lan Wangji out of his melancholy shell. As they fight together, their relationship becomes more transient, a yearning that holds them together beyond time and thought. Lan Wangji always stands beside Wei Wuxian, no matter the consequences, and Wei Wuxian trusts him enough to walk right into the middle of the battlefield with nothing but his magical flute. Wang Yibo had tight control over his emotional portrayal for the most of the drama, and as such, it became prudent for Xiao Zhan to sail this inevitable ship. He kept it floating while we feel truly jealous of this Untamed relationship – fierce yet magical!
Sixteen years’ worth of heartache might make a person bitter, but not our main couple. Time doesn’t alter their feelings an iota, and shortly after Wei Wuxian comes back, they’re back to bickering like an old married couple. Chinese Bromance dramas are often criticized for their lack of intimate scenes that Thai BL shows depict fearlessly. I agree with this point, but “The Untamed” managed, which no other popular series could! It showcased the brilliance and purity of a romance devoid of sexual tensions or intimacy. You could look into their eyes and see the unspoken words reflected back. WangXian didn’t need heavy duty makeout sessions to prove their love, not even a feather-light kiss. Since the show is from a bygone era, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo manifested the various aspects of the romance with micro-expressions and soft lingering gazes that will leave you yearning for more. It doesn’t hurt at all that the both of them are really easy on the eyes as well.
Fans adore this chemistry both onscreen and offscreen. The show’s BTS is filled with comic moments of an oblivious Zhan being pranked by the overtly mischievous Yibo. Zhan is not the one to be left out, and as such, he would retaliate in kind by scaring off Yibo with bugs. They both belonged to popular idol groups, and so share the same background. Yibo looks up to his “Zhange,” and Zhan takes up the mantle of protecting his “Didi.” At all major events and award functions, you can see the comfort they share. Zhan is mature and always more responsive during interviews, making sure to guide Yibo on the “Dos and Don’ts.” But he is also very emotional and sensitive. They are first and foremost each other’s best support, and that is what makes this pair beautiful!
Xiao Zhan As A Person
Xiao Zhan was born on October 5th, 1991, in Chongqing. Before he made his debut as a singer or an actor, Zhan had an alternate career. He was a part of the Modern International Art Design Academy, Chongqing Technology and Business University (CTBU).
During his university days, he not only honed his skills by joining the choir team but also worked as a photographer and graphic designer.
Despite being the perfect choice for “Wei Wuxian,” it might come as a big surprise that his own management team wasn’t confident about Zhan taking on this role. His management wasn’t present during any of the principal photography of “The Untamed.” Zhan did the ‘show up’ on his merits and successfully proved them wrong. As such, Xiao Zhan used his management later for their erroneous claims that “Zhan wasn’t good enough.” He did it so that he could part from them and move on to new management, but the matter was settled out of court. The only silver lining of this outcome was that Xiao Zhan established his own studio “XZ Studio” in September 2019.
Xiao Zhan is hot property when it comes to brand endorsements, which range from beverages to jewelry and fashion magazines. You name it, and he’s there! After he was appointed as the Brand Ambassador for Estée Lauder’s fragrance and beauty line, the brand’s sales surpassed last year’s record. Xiao Zhan’s name has become a brand itself, and he has been topping various charts for obvious reasons. He topped the R3 index celebrity ranking from August to November 2019 and the Star Fashion Value by Sina Fashion in August and October 2019. He also topped Ai Man’s Data Star’s Business Value list for the months of September to November 2019. He ranked 1st in the “TCC Asia’s Most Handsome Faces” among various other achievements. In May 2020, his single “Light Spot” officially got listed as the 3rd best selling single of all time in the world, and the fans are as usual mesmerized with his vocals.
Popularity is a double-edged sword, and being the most famous man in China is not an easy task. When he steps out in public, he is so prone to get mobbed, that the subsequent events have made him largely averse to going out in public at all. As such, he prefers staying at home unless he is out shooting. Zhan also prefers living a simple life and is a nostalgic person. He might be a Superstar in front of the camera, but when it comes to matters of the heart, he is not very good at expressing himself. However, he is quite accepting of a long-distance relationship. According to Zhan, the distance creates the beauty of treasuring each other and understanding happiness when being together. Quite philosophical!
Despite this romantic side, work always takes precedence for Xiao Zhan. He is a workaholic and has a stringent work ethic. Even while working on “The Untamed” he could be found studying other projects, while on the set. When he misses someone, he keeps himself busy!
His favorite actress is Zhou Xun, and since his childhood, he has been a huge fan of singer Stefanie Sun and went to her concerts. He is quite a private person and mostly prefers dressing in monochrome (black and white, grayscale) with a bit of bright color. He believes his voice is more suited to ballads or light and refreshing songs. If you haven’t heard him singing Untamed’s OST “Qu Jin Chen Qing” describing Lan Wangji’s beauty, then you are missing out on life!
Fans in China have the power to make or completely destroy their Idol’s image. No one would know this better than Xiao Zhan. He was recently embroiled in a cyberwar led by erratic fans that led to the boycott of major brands that he endorses. It all started when one of the Weibo users published two articles regarding a fan fiction (fanfic) entitled “Falling,” where Zhan is portrayed as a cross-dressing teen boy falling in love with idol Wang Yibo. This publication caused a major uproar with a certain element of his fans who were enraged that their Idol was depicted in a “homoerotic context.” Of course, this is silly because clearly, it is just ‘fanfic,’ and the fact that Zhan starred in one of the biggest Bromance dramas ever in the history of Chinese television. Two days later, the fiction’s publishing platforms – the Chinese fan fiction site Lofter and the international open-source platform Archive of Our Own (AO3) were pulled down. AO3 is a major refuge to China’s elusive LGBTQ community who use the platform to publish articles that are increasingly restricted by the country’s media authorities. Enraged by this incident, various free speech activists stupidly began lobbying against Zhan, the star himself. As a result, his reputation plummeted, and major brands like Olay and Crest took down Zhan’s images from their e-commerce sites.
Subsequently, in a video uploaded to Weibo, Xiao said, “Some time ago, some disputes related to me occurred, and this dispute happened during the key period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I feel very sorry. If those disputes caused some trouble to some people, I want to make an apology to them.” Editor’s Note: What irks me is why the hell is Xian apologizing at all? He’s done nothing culpable. While some netizens responded positively to his public apology, others lamented the fact that he did not directly address his crazed fans.
Personally, I feel that fans should be more tolerant of their Idol’s image because certainly, this incident would elicit reservations of him starring in another Bromance drama in the future. Also, a fanfic isn’t reality, so what’s the use of being enraged about fictional stories? Here’s hoping that the fans become wiser and learn to separate reality from imagination!