Bai Ling stands out among American actresses for so many reasons: she’s Chinese, for one thing, but it’s not just that. She reads lines differently than her counterparts, a little softer here, a little louder there. And you don’t get the sense that she hesitates to say or do much of anything on camera, making her an exotic form of clay for most directors.
Of course, there is her beauty. The eyes are a little farther apart than Western audiences are accustomed to seeing onscreen. Her figure—which she shows without embarrassment or hesitation, is hers. Don’t go looking for scalpel marks.
And then there is the hair. Thick, black and cut with a sharp edge across the front—she just doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen before.
And judging from her international success, it’s not just Americans who can’t get enough of Bai Ling.
BAI LING podcast excerpt: “I got cast for Love Ranch, for which they originally wanted someone with big boobs, blonde hair, 20 years old—and totally a white girl. But I got it. And I’m pretty happy to play a white woman’s part. That gives me much more range as an actress.”
Her latest film, A Beautiful Life, casts Bai in the role of den mother to a young Latino man who is in the U.S. illegally and a teenage girl, played by Angela Sarafyan, who has run away from a physically abusive father. But this is still Bai Ling, so the producers found a way for her character, Esther, to frequently wear little or nothing: she’s a stripper.
A Beautiful Life opens around the United States on October 2. In addition to Bai Ling, it also stars Dana Delaney of “Desperate Housewives,” Debi Mazar of “Entourage,” and Guillermo Diaz of “Weeds.”