Beyond Cute

An actress is supposed to have a sense of self. Everything she presents to the public—her face, body, personality, performance skills and limitations—is her product, and she must know its workings as a mechanic knows his car. Surely after six years of fame she should have figured out her appeal, her power over the audience.

Yet Zhao Wei—Vicki Zhao is her English screen name—doesn't seem to see what she has that's unique. Apparently she never did. As a child, she says, she didn't consider acting as a career because "I thought actresses had to be beautiful, and I...

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