China's wannabe actors chase careers, dreams in Beijing hotel

The Piao Home Inn in Beijing's Chaoyang District is full of people each day looking for a breakout opportunity to star in one or two Internet films or TV series

In a budget hotel next to the 800-million-dollar World Trade Center in downtown Beijing, Quan Meihua practices reciting the lines of a crazy blind woman, while dreaming of becoming the country's next superstar.

"I could be the next Ziyi Zhang," she says. "I just need a perfect audition."

Located in Beijing's central business district, the Piao Home Inn in Beijing's Chaoyang District is full of people each day looking for a breakout opportunity to star in one or two Internet films or TV series. Some are graduates from film academies, while others are just extras hoping to make money.

Driven by China's explosive growth of Internet films and series, many casting directors reside in the hotel throughout the year to recruit potential actors and actresses for their projects, while also hoping the newbies can help them become the next Ang Lee or Zhang Yimou.

The Piao Home Inn recently created buzz on microblog Sina Weibo, after a video of people auditioning for Internet films and TV series was posted there. By Thursday morning, the video had attracted more than 1,000 comments and had been forwarded by almost 3,000 Weibo users.

"All actors and actresses, when they set their foot on Beijing, instantly hear about the Piao hotel," Wang Xiaoyan, an actress, says in the video.

The Piao, which means floating in Chinese, is located where a lot of creative and entertainment companies converge. Being close to Guomao, one of the busiest subway stations, and many other public transit lines, the hotel is easily the best choice for crew members to meet potential cast, according to casting director Wang Xiaojian.

That's why Quan Meihua, 23, came to try her luck at the hotel.

"I think the hardest part of acting is probably the crying scenes," she says. "I want to secure a good role, and I want to do my best in the business."

Lights, camera, action

The wall in the hall of the Piao Home Inn is full of paper ads looking for actors and actresses for the latest film and TV series projects.

Actor He Qiwei auditioned for a role in the Piao hotel on Wednesday, preparing for the role for considerable time.

"I have been reciting the lines," He says. "They are long and very difficult to memorize. Every gesture, every movement matters."

He, 28, is not a greenhorn in the industry. He has already landed several roles in a number of Internet films, although none have yet been broadcast.

In December, he was given a role in an Internet film, which was shot in Zhejiang's Hengdian, dubbed China's Hollywood. The experience was tough.

"I had to jump into a cold river in the freezing air," He says. "As I had to shoot the film for the entire day, I had to wear my wet costume all day long."

He said that after getting involved in a new play, he usually sleeps 3 to 4 hours day.

"Shooting is quite hectic, and an Internet film is usually shot in less than 20 days, so you should always be ready," he says.

In his spare time, he goes on live-streaming websites to broadcast his life to his fans.

"I can play the piano, and my fans love it when I play different music," he says.

Special Reports