Mon, June 21, 2010
Lifestyle > Culture

A Dad like no other

2010-06-21 11:13:07 GMT2010-06-21 19:13:07 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

A file photo of Ying Ruocheng with his son Ying Da and grandson Ying Batu. China photo press

Chinese actor, director and anchorman Ying Da says that he never sent any gift to his father Ying Ruocheng (1929-2003), the famous actor, translator and once vice-minister of culture, nor did he receive any gift from his father.

"We were like buddies throughout our lives, and it would have felt odd for us to send gifts to each other," he says.

Except for three years in the 1980s when he studied in the United States, Ying Da always lived with his father. He came back to China in 1987, the year his mother passed away.

"I didn't come back for an exalted reason such as to serve the motherland. My reason was simple. I was the only boy in the family, and it was my duty to look after my father while he was living. We are a very traditional family," he says.

Before each of his marriages, Ying Da would always tell his fiance that they would be living with his father after the wedding.

In the last years of his father's life, Ying Da had to take care of him.

His multi-talented father, who's accomplishments included acting, directing, painting, translating and carpentry, had a great influence on Ying Da's own career, and he admits that he was a fan of his father since childhood

Following in his father's footsteps, Ying Da became an actor, but found it difficult to emerge from his father's shadow. People would often address him as "son of Ying Ruocheng".

However, he gradually forged his own acting reputation and became as well-known as his father with his performances in the TV drama Fortress Besieged and the film Big Shot's Funeral, while his directing of I Love My Family and Northeastern Family established his status as a master of Chinese sitcoms.

However, when Ying Da read Voices Carry, a biography of Ying Ruocheng written by Duke University professor Claire Conceison based on Ying Ruocheng's own oral narration, he found that in many ways he could still not surpass his father.

"In reading this book, I surprisingly rediscovered my father, his wit, his sharpness, his learning and his humor It turns out that I'm still lagging far behind him and may never catch up."

Ying Da wrote in his foreword to the Chinese edition of the book, published last year: "I found that through all these years I have been following his way of thinking, philosophy and logic. All the values, abilities of self-analysis, humorous attitudes, likes and dislikes that I thought were uniquely mine, actually can all be found in this book."

Now, Ying Da believes that despite their shared profession the greatest influence his father had on him was his family attitudes.

"My father was always like a friend when he discussed things related to my life with me. Our relationship was unusual for a father and son," he says. "I have learned even more from his way of teaching children than from his artistry."

Ying Da and Ying Ruocheng never celebrated Father's Day, because it was not common in China at that time. Though it still isn't a popular holiday, he expects a "Happy Father's Day" from his 12-year-old son who is studying in the United States.

"I think it'll be a good thing if 'Father's Day' (June 20) becomes popular in China," he says. "It's not easy to be a father. Fathers deserve to have a holiday for themselves."

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