Drama

Xiao Zhan: Following His Acting Journey

Xiao Zhan is a multi-talented singer and actor with a large fanbase both in China and internationally. We’re surprised there haven’t already been articles written about this well-known Chinese celebrity. So, we (Xiao Zi, YumzQ, Echo finds, and Cho Na) have put in some effort to gather information in order to provide you with a brief background on who Xiao Zhan is and what he has done so far. This article focuses more on his acting career and his well-known roles in dramas and movies.

Disclaimer: 

There may be a few minor spoilers here on the drama/movie descriptions. We have done our best to keep this spoiler-free, but we cannot fully guarantee that it is.
Since Chinese is not our first language, we heavily rely on English-translated sources, which are limited. Hence, we cannot ensure that the information is 100 % accurate.

Xiao Zi: I’ve only been watching dramas for a year or so. I came across The Untamed on MDL, which appeared to be very popular and had a lot of positive reviews and ratings. After watching a popular drama similar to it at the time, I was extremely disappointed and enraged. So I didn’t want to add to my disdain if this turned out to be a disaster as well. I remember one day being in the right frame of mind to give The Untamed a try. When I finished it, the actor who played Wei Wu Xian left a strong impression on me by expressing his emotions through his beautiful eyes. Moreover, the drama proved to be absolutely phenomenal. Since then, I’ve started watching more of his dramas and researching more about him, and now, I’ve grown to be one of his biggest fans.

YumzQ: Four years back, while scrolling through YouTube, a comedy drama called Oh! My Emperor caught my eye. I clicked on it and found the story hilarious. But what really captured me was the acting of the Emperor’s uncle, played by Xiao Zhan. Fast forward to 2020, I was stuck at home due to the pandemic and YouTube recommended another drama. It was The Untamed, and I was captivated by Xiao Zhan’s acting. But that was still not enough for me to stan him until I watched the variety show Our Song (2019). And along with his singing, Xiao Zhan captured my heart. 
Echo finds: When I was just getting into C-dramaland, whenever I went on YouTube, one name I’d constantly see was Xiao Zhan, who everyone seemed to love. Intrigued, I checked out his work, The Untamed, but it wasn’t among my genres of interest then. Later, when I was out of dramas to watch, I once again picked it up. This time, I finished the whole series in a few days, absolutely fell in love with his smile and eyes that turn into crescents when he laughs. I binged on any content I could find about him on YouTube. After that, I knew this person would be a bit special to me.
Cho Na: In autumn 2019I also found Oh! My Emperor was promoted on YouTubeAt first, I watched it for the leading actress because her character is just comical. Later, Xiao Zhan’s character as the Emperor’s uncle became more interesting to watch. At that time, I felt like his acting was better than the rest of the X-Nine members. He could convey the emotional part of his character really well. Since then, I have followed almost all his works.

Born: 5 October 1991 (age 30)

Birth name: Xiao Zhan 肖战

English name: Sean Xiao 

Birth place: Chongqing, China

Height: 183.6 cm (6 ft)

Occupation: Actor and Singer. 
Previously a graphic designer and photographer
Nicknames: Rabbit Xiao, Beauty Xiao
Fandom name: Xiao Fei Xia (XFX) 小飞侠
Fandom color: Deep red

Born as an only child, from a young age, Xiao Zhan learned to paint and play the violin, with a passion for singing. 

In 2012, while still in university, he set up a photography studio along with his friends, working as their main photographer. He graduated from Chongqing Technology and Business University with a degree in Graphic designing in 2014, and after graduation, worked at a firm.

In 2015, he received a call from his professor who’d recommended him to take part in a variety singing show. Deciding it would be an opportunity to pursue his passion for singing, Xiao Zhan joined a reality show known as X-FIRE where he trained to become an idol and professional singer.

X-NINE ERA

In 2016, Xiao Zhan, along with 8 other trainees, debuted in the boy group X-NINE, taking on the position of the main vocalist. The group was signed under Wajijiwa Entertainment. 

The band released two mini albums and a tour before going on an indefinite hiatus in early 2019.


Super Star Academy (2016)

Cheng Zhi Er (Wang Yu Wen) is an ordinary girl. She gets the chance to attend a supernatural school where pupils have powers based on their horoscope sign.

Xiao Zhan plays the main role of Fang Tianze, an arrogant heir to the Fang Group. Initially, he and Cheng Zhi Er dislike each other, but they end up together more and more, and hence develop feelings for each other.

Xiao Zhan started his acting debut in the youth fantasy drama Super Star Academy, produced by Wajijiwa Entertainment. He spoke of Fang Tian Ze, his role, as his dark past that he cannot look back on. In 2018, Xiao Zhan posted on Weibo, saying that Fang Tian Ze had been abducted by aliens. If you are looking for a hilarious comedy drama where nothing seems to make sense but somehow ends up making sense, then this is the drama for you!

The Wolf (2020)

A young boy, later known as Chu You Wen (Darren Wang), raised by wolves, falls in love with Ma Zhai Xing (Li Qin). They are separated when he is accused of murder. Eight years passed and Chu You Wen, now Prince Bo, meets his childhood sweetheart again. He refrains from acknowledging his true identity, despite still being in love with her.

Xiao Zhan plays Ji Chong, a wanderer who falls in love with Ma Zhai Xing. They form a close friendship, but Ji Chong is not who he claims to be.

Xiao Zhan’s first real encounter with serious acting came with the drama The Wolf, in which he played the second male lead Ji Chong; a frivolous and carefree bounty hunter. Filming was from April to September 2017 under rough conditions; with several crew members experiencing altitude sickness or allergy to UV rays.

According to Xiao Zhan, during an interview with Portrait Magazine on February 2020, the first time he questioned whether he was suitable to become an actor was during filming of The Wolf. He wasn’t able to perform a crying scene despite multiple takes, and how he felt guilty for making everyone wait for him. But he also acknowledges that it was the time he improved the most in terms of acting. In a sense, it could be said that Ji Chong was the true starting point for Xiao Zhan.

Oh! My Emperor: Season One and Season Two (2018)

On the way to see her idol, Jia Cheng’s, concert, Luo Fei Fei (Zhao Lu Si) gets into an accident, which, combined with a meteor shower, sends her back to the past, to the land of Huang Dao. It is the land ruled by the twelve zodiacs. She also meets the current ruler, Emperor Bei Tang Yi (Jason Gu), who resembles her idol.

Fei Fei must find a way to survive in this strange new world. Fortunately, she has the emperor’s uncle, Bei Tang Mo Ran (Xiao Zhan) on her side.

Right after filming The Wolf wrapped, on 17 September 2017, Xiao Zhan reunited with his X NINE bandmates to join the crew of Oh! My Emperor, a costume drama, playing the role of the gentle, elegant, and strong Bei Tang Mo Ran. Xiao Zhan received widespread popularity for his performance despite only being the Second Male Lead. 

The Untamed (2019)

Wei Wu Xian (Xiao Zhan) and Lan Wang Ji (Wang Yi Bo), meet during cultivation training and accidentally discover a long-time hidden, dangerous secret. While getting rid of the threat, Wei Wu Xian dies. 

Sixteen years later, he is brought back to life. He conceals himself behind a mask and assumes the identity of his summoner. Soon, Wei Wu Xian reunites with Lan Wang Ji. They start working together to solve the mysteries of the present and unravel the truth behind the events that happened in the past.

In 2018, Xiao Zhan played the main character in the drama The Untamed. The series was broadcasted in 2019. His portrayal of the bubbly and cheerful Wei Wu Xian, then darker and tormented Yi Ling Laozu drew massive recognition and support from audiences, helping to strengthen his status in the industry. 

However, it was not an easy task for Xiao Zhan, who has proven himself to be a perfect fit for the role of the carefree Wei Wu Xian, to get the part. Xiao Zhan had to fight his own management company, that believed that he was not “good enough” for the role, as well as fight for the role of Wei Wu Xian on his own terms.

After filming ended, Xiao Zhan took home Wei Wu Xian’s red ribbon as a memento.

Douluo Continent (2021)

Xiao Zhan plays the main role of Tang San, a village boy who lost his mother at a very young age. At the age of sixteen, he pursues his dream of becoming a soul master. Along the way, he meets an orphan girl, Xiao Wu (Wu Xuan Yi). 

At the Shrek Academy, Tang San and Xiao Wu join five other prodigies from various academies. The seven students became known throughout the land as the “Shrek Seven Devils.” They, during their journey of becoming great soul masters, discover decade-long secrets and get stronger along the way.
If you are looking for light-hearted fantasy drama with a lot of action and minimal romance, this might be a great choice. Xiao Zhan’s portrayal of Tang San is very loyal, kind and ready to defend himself or others at a moment’s notice. The friendship and teamwork between the Shrek Seven Devils was done really well.

Ace Troops (2021)

Gao Liang (Johnny Huang) and Gu Yi Ye (Xiao Zhan) are recruited into the same unit. Their relationship starts ‘on a bad foot’. Even if their bravery is undoubted, since they both come from different backgrounds, they have different personalities. Though they are rivals in love and competitors in the army, they cherish each other as comrades-in-arms. With time passing, their lives are put through constant trials, forcing them to make hard choices as they strive forward.
To prepare himself for the role, Xiao Zhan joined the military team to exercise early in the morning, eating, practicing and living with the soldiers 24/7. He also endures intensive training with them under the scorching sun.

The Oath of Love (2022)

The world of Lin Zhi Xiao (Yang Zi), a budding cellist, comes to a grinding halt when her father is hospitalized and is diagnosed with cancer. Gu Wei (Xiao Zhan), the doctor in charge of her father’s treatment, who has been going through a rough time of his own, enters her life for the first time in a most awkward and unexpected way. However, as they get to know each other, they begin to form an understanding. As time progresses, they grow closer.  
The Oath of Love premiered in March 2022, after a long two-year wait. Due to “Operation Qing Lang,” which targeted celebrities with large and often chaotic fan bases, it had been repeatedly delayed. Five teasers have been released since the filming wrapped in 2019, which already accumulated 450 million views. As a proof of the cast’s star power, The Oath of Love broke 700 million views within three days of broadcast.

SUPPORTING AND GUEST ROLES

Fights Break Sphere (2018)
Joy of Life (2019)
Heroes In Harm’s Way (2020)
As Lin Xiu Ya, a skilled martial arts student.
As the extremely loyal spy Yan Bing Yun.
As a college student, Cai Ding, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UPCOMING DRAMAS

The Longest Promise (2022)

The story revolves around the tumultuous love story between Zhu Yan (Ren Min), the princess of the Chi Yi Tribe, and Shi Ying (Xiao Zhan), a royal prince. Shi Ying’s mother was framed, and he was banished to Jiu Yi Mountain to cultivate. Originally, focusing on nothing but cultivation, Shi Ying develops romantic feelings for Zhu Yan, his disciple. However, because of their relationship as teacher and student, both of them can’t express their feelings.

Where Dreams Begin (TBA)

Xiao Chun Sheng (Xiao Zhan) along with his friends, children of military families and government workers, experience what it’s like to join the army, to take the gaokao, the National College Entrance Examination, to go out to sea and to start a business, supporting each other along the way. Tong Xiao Mei (Li Qin) is a Beijing girl, pursuing her dream of being a doctor. This is an inspirational story of the growth and transformation of ordinary people during the reform era in China. 

MOVIES

Jade Dynasty (2019)

After the massacre of his village, Zhang Xiao Fan (Xiao Zhan) is taken in by the Qing Yun Sect, where he begins his journey of cultivation. When he finds out the truth behind the deaths of his parents, he succumbs to his rage and demonic tendencies and becomes the enemy of the same Qing Yun Sect.

In 2019, Xiao Zhan appeared in the movie Jade Dynasty, an adaptation from Xiao Ding’s novel “Zhu Xian”. The movie broke 400 million yuan at the Chinese box office upon release. Xiao Zhan played the naive and innocent Zhang Xiao Fan. It is not the best film out there, but you will enjoy the comedic scenes. During filming he formed a cute friendship with a dog named Da Huang, that is Xiao Fan’s pet in the movie. There is behind-the-scenes footage of Da Huang trying to steal kisses from Xiao Zhan, and him comforting the puppy when he was scared of heights.


SHORT FILMS

House Rules
If anyone has never seen Xiao Zhan in any drama and  hesitated to watch a long one, we recommend his short films House Rules (2019) and Buying Ears (2020) to familiarize you with him. In House Rules, Xiao Zhan played as a son, who bought a car on a private loan, without his father’s knowledge. In Buying Ears, he played as a delivery boy, who makes a video call to his grandmother during his lunch time. Both films are emotional in different ways and really show us the depth of his acting.
Buying Ears

STAGE PLAY

A Dream Like a Dream (2021)

The stage play “A Dream Like a Dream” tells about a newly graduated medical student on her first day working at a hospital. Of the five patients in her ward that day, four ended up dying. The panicking doctor can only stand to the side and listen attentively to the stories of the patients themselves, which is also a comfort to them.  

Xiao Zhan acted as “Patient Number 5″. It is from his story that other characters, and their dreams, begin to emerge. 
The play was first staged in Wuhan on 22 April 2021, to pay tribute to the volunteers, medical workers and community workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. They also toured to other cities such as Qingdao in East China’s Shandong Province, Changsha in Central China’s Hunan Province, Xiamen in East China’s Fujian Province, before finally returning to Beijing in late December 2021.

SINGLES

In 2018 the company announced that the member with the most album sales would get to release their first single. Xiao Zhan released his first solo single titled “The Satisfaction” on 16 November 2018.

April 25 2020, he did a surprise release for his second single “Spotlight”. For this song, he entered the Guinness World Records for the fastest-selling digital track in China. It was named the 7th best selling digital single of 2020 globally by the IFPI; having amassed 1.48 billion subscription stream equivalents worldwide. The song was also listed as one of 10 biggest-selling digital singles worldwide by Guinness World Records. Xiao Zhan received Male Singer of the Year award from Tencent Entertainment White Paper and Popular Digital Single of The Year award from Tencent Music Entertainment Awards.

OST

Apart from the music produced with X- Nine and the above singles, Xiao Zhan also sang OST songs for some of his dramas. Below are our four favourite OSTs:

  • “Remaining Years” (Yu Nian/余年) from Joy of Life

  • “The Youth on a Horse” (策马正少年—肖战) from Douluo Continent

  • “Qu Jin Cheng Qin” (曲尽陈情) from The Untamed

  • “The Greatest Fortune” (最幸运的幸运) from The Oath of Love


2019

The Untamed

  • QQ Music: 10 millions certification: OST “Qu Jin Cheng Qin”
  • 3rd Yinchuan Internet Film Festival: Best Actor (web drama)
  • Sofa Film Festival: Most Popular Actor of the Autumn
  • Golden Tower Award: Most Popular Actor
  • 26th Huading Awards: Best Newcomer
  • Weibo TV Series Awards: Most Popular Character (Wei Wuxian)
  • Hengdian World Studio Classic Ranking: Most Popular Character (Wei Wuxian)
  • Sina Film & TV Awards: Most Popular Actor of the Year
  • Sina The Most Beautiful Performance: Outstanding Actor of the Year
  • Tencent Music Entertainment Awards: Song of the Year with Wang Yi Bo (OST “Unrestrained”)
  • Kugou Music Awards: Song of the Year with Wang Yi Bo (OST “Unrestrained”)
  • Tencent Entertainment White Paper: Television Actor of the Year and Star Celebrity Board: Television Actor of the Year (2 awards)
  • Weibo Night: Hot Figure of the Year
  • China Literature Awards Ceremony: Actor of the Year

Jade Dynasty

  • Sina The Most Beautiful Performance: Outstanding Actor of the Year
  • China Literature Awards Ceremony: Actor of the Year and Heartthrob Actor (2 awards)
  • China Screen Award: New Actor of the Year

2020

The Untamed

  • 27th ERC Chinese Top Ten Awards: Top Ten Songs (OST “Unrestrained” with Wang Yi Bo)
  • WeTV Awards: Best Male Lead

Joy of Life

  • 27th ERC Chinese Top Ten Awards: OST “Remaining Years” (2020)

The Wolf

  • Weibo TV Series Awards: Most Popular Actor
  • PCA 2020: Best Chinese Artist

2021

Douluo Continent

  • Weibo TV Series Awards: Most Popular Actor
  • WeTV Awards: Favorite Actor and Best Actor (2 awards)
  • Beijing Daily’s Film and Television Awards: Best Actor

Please note that the awards listed above are only for his achievement on specific works. Xiao Zhan has won more overall awards and the full list can be seen in Wikipedia.


Here is a simple game for you guys. The rules are simple: Read each of the statements and guess if it is true or false. 1 point for each right guess. The answers are given in the spoilers below the game. If you guessed all the statements correctly, you are an ultimate Xiao Zhan’s fan!

1. Xiao Zhan can ride a bike. 2. Xiao Zhan has a cat. 3. Xiao Zhan’s favourite character from Avengers is Spiderman.
4. Xiao Zhan can play cello. 5. Xiao Zhan has a low alcohol tolerance. 6. Xiao Zhan can cook.
7. Xiao Zhan’s zodiac is Cancer. 8. Xiao Zhan loves Americano. 9. Xiao Zhan knows how to play the harmonica.
BONUS
10. Xiao Zhan is perfect.

Answers (Facts sources: 1, 2, and 3)

  1. False. Xiao Zhan cannot ride a bike! Wang Yibo, his co-star in The Untamed had given him a lot of grief about it.
  2. True. Xiao Zhan has a cat and it’s name is Nut. That’s Nut in the 2nd image. Who do you think is cuter- Xiao Zhan or Nut?
  3. True. Who wouldn’t love Spiderman?
  4. False. Xiao Zhan cannot play cello. But, he can play violin and guitar.
  5. True. He must be really cute with some red tint on his cheeks.
  6. True. Surprising, right? His future life partner will be really lucky. 😉
  7. False. Honestly, this is a basic fact, right? Since he was born in October, he is a Libra.
  8. True.
  9. True. In short, Xiao Zhan knows how to play violin, guitar and harmonica.
  10. Comment your answer.

Whether you were drawn to Xiao Zhan because of his singing or acting ability, the more you learn about him, the more you will appreciate his characters, professionalism, and work ethics. What stands out to us are his perseverance and the effort he puts into everything. May it be shooting a drama, a movie, or an advertisement. He always puts in a lot of effort and shines brightly on any project. So, we hope our brief article has motivated your interest in learning more about the fabulously multi-talented singer and actor Xiao Zhan.

“I hope everyone will be themselves, and take their own paths. 
Don’t compare yourself with others, and don’t imitate others. 
Always maintain a pure heart, and be your most unique self.”  

Xiao Zhan (source)


AcknowledgementsThank you to the editors who edited this article. 
Images and GIFs courtesy: Feature Image is made by Xiao Zi and sub-headers by Cho Na, images taken from drama/character posters on MDL or screenshots from drama/movie scenes. Other sources: First GIF, Early Life GIF, X-Nine, A Dream Like a Dream (Image 1, Image 2), SatisfactionAchievement, Fun Facts (123456789
10), and Last GIF.
Edited by: devitto (1st editor)
the untamed
the wolf
douluo continent
the oath of love
super star academy
oh! my emperor
xiao zhan
ace troops
the longest promise
where dreams begin
jade dynasty
x-nine

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