Zhang Ziyi (Mandarin pronunciation: [ʈ͡ʂɑ́ŋ t͜sɨ̀ǐ]) (born 9 February 1979) is a Chinese actress. She is considered one of the Four Dan Actresses of China.
Her first major role was in The Road Home (1999). She achieved fame for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), winning the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Female and earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
She then starred in Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2046 (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), earning critical acclaim and receiving a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
Zhang was born and raised in Beijing, China. Her parents are Zhang Yuanxiao, an accountant and later economist, and Li Zhousheng, a kindergarten teacher. She is very close to her older brother, Zhang Zinan (Chinese: 章子男; pinyin: Zhāng Zǐnán; born 1973). Zhang began studying dance when she was 8 years old; subsequently, she joined the Beijing Dance Academy at her parents' suggestion at the age of 11. While at this boarding school, she noticed how mean the other girls were to each other while competing for status amongst the teachers. Zhang disliked the attitudes of her peers and teachers so much that, on one occasion, she ran away from the school. At the age of 15, Zhang won the national youth dance championship and began appearing in television commercials in Hong Kong.
In 1996, Zhang entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama at the age of 17.