Wed, May 19, 2010
Entertainment > Music

Avant-garde star defining herself as individual

2010-05-19 08:18:22 GMT2010-05-19 16:18:22 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Shang Wenjie

Shang Wenjie

Shang Wenjie

Shang Wenjie

Shang Wenjie

When Shang Wenjie, a graduate from the elite Fudan university, jumped into the limelight in 2006 after winning Supergirls - reality TV singing competition - some critics predicted the end of her career within two years.

Not perturbed, Shang tried to diversify her talent base and, in addition to singing, wrote books about fashion.

She claims her third book - Ms Lane Crawford - which will come in late May, is her first to express her true self. It is a fashion pictorial.

"Beauty comes from the inside. The book is a guide on how to improve yourself from the inside," she said.

But with the release of her new single, also titled Ms Lane Crawford, in late April, the singer/writer once again stepped into public scrutiny. This time she was angry, with the lyrics: "Just leave me alone. You know what? I am who I am."

The issue: Four years after the competition that made her famous, Shang has been labeled as the Chinese version of Lady Gaga for her outr style.

The problem: the remark is not a compliment.

"To be honest, I don't like the comparison," she said.

"They all accuse me of copying Lady Gaga, she is more famous and she was also using that style a long time before me. Our concept may be the same, but my outfits are different."

Shang said her style is the work of an entire makeup design group D&O, based in Shanghai, and she wants to give them the respect they deserve.

Being different from other entertainment figures was Shang's main selling point in Supergirls, an element she takes very seriously indeed.

"I didn't take any professional art courses or have a beautiful face," Shang told METRO in a recent interview.

As a member of a typical Shanghai family, Shang was a straight-A student who put herself through college by working as a part-time French interpreter.

"The academic atmosphere in my class was great. All the students worked really hard, literally all the time. French is a difficult language so I studied all day in order not to fall behind," she said, describing herself as a "nerd" rather than as a "socializing cheerleader".

After graduation, Shang got a well-paid job in an office building in Shanghai.

"When my job got on the right track, I decided to enrich my life with something I had never done," she said of Supergirls.

Her first stop was the competition tryouts in Hangzhou - she failed immediately. Shang then journeyed to Chengdu and this time got through to the third round. Again she was knocked out.

Guangzhou was up next, but Shang was now hesitant about trying her luck. She decided to take one final risk.

"Sometimes, an opportunity can be just around the corner, but you won't know it unless you try," she said.

Shang sailed through competition after competition, entering the final stage and scooping more than 5 million votes to win Supergirls 2006.

Asked why she quit her job to become a full-time singer, Shang was direct with her response.

"It was not my decision. When I got into the competition's top 100, I had to sign a contract with an agency - the organizer of the TV program - in order to continue," she said.

Now, four years after she first entered the world of showbiz, not everything in her life has changed.

"Though I know how to use make-up and I'm comfortable with high-heels, I rarely bother when I am off the stage," she said.

"When I was a white collar worker, I could walk into my office without a pressed shirt or clean hair. I can't do that now, but I'm still me in private.

"No one recognizes me if I don't wear make-up, so I can still go shopping or to a restaurant with my friends," she said.

Shang's album - Beneath Van Gogh's Starry Sky - was ranked as the second best selling album in Joyo Amazon in 2007, after only after two months on the market.

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