Zhang in December 2017
October 7, 1991
Zhāng Yìxīng (hangul: 장이씽; hanja: 张艺兴; born in Changsha on October 7, 1991) better known by his stage name Lay (hangul: 레이) is a Chinese rapper, singer, songwriter, dancer and actor. He became known after participating in a television program called Star Academy in 2005. He joined in EXO on January 2012, as lead dancer, vocalist and visual member. In September of 2015, it published its autobiography, titled Standing Firm At 24, beating records of book sold more in its pre-sale.
Early years[change | change source]
Lay was born on October 7, 1991 in Changsha, Hunan, China. His first television role was at the age of six starring as Huan Huan in We The People in 1998. In 2000, when he was nine years old, he participated in a Chinese television program as a member of the fan club of actor and singer Jimmy Lin, giving him his first contact with the entertainment industry. Lay began his career as a local children's star in Hunan province, after winning third place in a contest organized by the popular television program Star Academy in 2005. He also appeared in an episode of Yue Ce Yue Xin Kai and the variety show of Liu Na, Na Ke Bu Yi Yang between 2005 and 2006. In April 2006, he auditioned for the series The Duke of Mount Deer directed by Zhang Jizhong. Despite being one of the finalists, he did not win the role. In 2008, Lay joined S.M. Entertainment after a successful audition in Changsha. At the time of the auditions, he was sixteen and was studying for his university entrance exams when he had become an apprentice, so he moved to Korea to begin his training. Prior to that, he studied at High School Attached to Hunan Normal University, where he had been presented as an exceptional student for his achievements.
Career[change | change source]
2012–2014: Debut with EXO[change | change source]
Lay became the sixth member of EXO and was formally presented to the public on January 17, 2012, debuting as the fourth Chinese member of the EXO-M subunit. Following the release of the singles "What Is Love" and "History" in 2012, he and the other eleven members celebrated their pre-debut showcase at the Seoul Olympic Stadium on March 31, and a second showcase and press conference in Beijing at the Great Hall of the Beijing University of Business and International Economics. The group officially debuted on April 8, 2012 with their song titled "Mama", and EXO-M's first performance in China was at the 12th Yinyue Fengyun Bang Awards.
In December 2012, Lay joined the musical project S.M. the Performance, along with his bandmate Kai and his colleagues Yunho, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Minho and Taemin. On December 29, the group performed the single "Spectrum", which was released the next day, in 2012 SBS Gayo Daejeon.
In early 2014, Lay composed and performed the song "I'm Lay" for his solo performance during the first EXO tour titled The Lost Planet. Later in 2014, he performed another song titled "I'm Coming" on a special end-of-year TV show on Hunan TV.
2015–2016: Solo debut and acting[change | change source]
In April 2015, S.M. Entertainment announced that a personal study had been established for Lay's activities in China. In May 2015, he became a cast member of the Chinese program Go Fighting! In June 2015, Lay composed the song "Promise" for the re-release of EXO's second studio album, Love Me Right. He also wrote the lyrics for the Chinese version of the song, while the Korean version was co-written by Chen and Chanyeol.
On September 18, 2015, the limited edition of his autobiography entitled Standing Firm At 24 was published, while the standard edition went on sale on October 7. The book documents important events throughout his life and broke several online sales records selling 68,537 copies in the first twenty-four minutes of pre-sale. With less than three months of sale with 1.4 million copies sold, it obtained the fourth place in "The 10th Chinese Celebrity Writers List", released by the influential Chinese media, WCC Daily, Cover News and Great Star Media, becoming in the youngest author to enter the list. He was also the champion of the 2015 Annual Celebrity Book Sales, and ranked first in Asia's Best Books, twice during his monthly ranking and six times for the weekly list. He was also on the Rakuten list, with 400,000 copies sold within six months, and has received much acclaim and praise from readers.
In the same month, he appeared in the film Kung Fu Yoga, starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong, and later as protagonist with his labelmate Krystal in the upcoming film entitled Unexpected Love, which was postponed for release in August 2017, whose poster was revealed at the Cannes Film Festival.
In November 2015, Lay made his big-screen debut with a supporting role in the Chinese movie Ex Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back, which was a blockbuster, getting two billion in sales within ten days of its release. He later won the Best Supporting Actor Award at the 2016 China Great Britain Film Festival for his performance. He also wrote and recorded an original soundtrack for the film entitled "Alone (One Person)", which reached number one on Baidu Music Chart, and later won the award for the best original soundtrack at 16th Top Chinese Music Awards and 4th V-Chart Awards. Lay also starred in the Chinese film Oh My God and collaborated with his co-stars Coco Jiang Wen and Li Xiaolu on an original soundtrack for the film entitled "Happy Youth", which debuted at number eight on Billboard V Chart.
In January 2016, Lay and the other cast members of Go Fighting! they appeared in the Chinese movie Royal Treasure. In April 2016, he received the Most Popular Newcomer award at the 16th Top Chinese Music Awards. In May 2016, Lay made her debut on the small screen on the Chinese television series To Be A Better Man and released a Chinese song titled "Monodrama" as part of SM Station. Written by Lay and co-composed and arranged with Divine Channel, "Monodrama" broke a record by staying in the first position in YinYueTai VChart for five consecutive weeks.
In May 2016, Lay starred in the Chinese television drama The Mystic Nine, a prequel to The Lost Tomb. The series achieved an unprecedented success, placing first in the television ratings and establishing a record for obtaining several online visits within 24 hours, and has accumulated more than ten billion visits in total. The television series went on to have a secondary story called The Mystic Nine Side Story: Flowers Bloom in February, which focused solely on Lay's character, Er Yue Hong.
In October of 2016, Lay's solo career began with the release of "what U need?" as a surprise gift for his fans on his birthday. The song was ranked number one in China V Chart, as well as in Billboard World Digital Songs and had entered the top 60 of iTunes, making Lay the first Chinese artist to appear on the list. He performed the song for the first time on October 10 at Asia Song Festival in Busan. On October 28, a day after holding a press conference in Shanghai Town & Country Community, Lay released his first mini-album titled Lose Control, which contains six songs in Mandarin, and the music video for the single. Lay participated in the production of the album as a producer, and was personally in charge of the composition, arrangement and writing of the lyrics of each song, as well as the translation of the same lyrics in three other languages including English and Japanese. The single "Lose Control" remained in first place in Billboard China V Chart for six consecutive weeks. Lose Control broke the record in South Korea by a large majority of sales of a solo artist, with pre-orders surpassing 200,000 copies before the physical album was published, making the number one album in sales. Lay also became the first solo artist to sell more than 40,000 copies of the album within a day and 125,000 after a week of album release. More than a million copies of the digital album have been sold in Xiami. He performed "Lose Control" for the first time on The Show on November 15. Lose Control was a commercial success reaching first place in Gaon Album Chart.
Later in November, Lay was announced to star in a Chinese remake of the hit Japanese drama television series Operation Love, which began airing on Dragon TV from April 24, 2017 with 32 episodes.
2017–present: Rising popularity and Lay 02 Sheep[change | change source]
On January 27, 2017, Zhang made his first appearance at the CCTV Spring Gala Festival and presented alongside Chinese actor Jing Boran. In April of that same year, it was confirmed in the cast of the historical film The Founding of the Army, released on July 28, 2017 to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. In May he released the song "祈愿 (Pray)" for the soundtrack of Operation Love, reaching the top position in QQ Music. Also in May, he participated in the release ceremony of Huawei Nova 2 at the Hunan International Exhibition and Conference Center, where he expressed his gratitude for his continued appointment as Huawei Nova's ambassador. In July 2017, the variety show Go Fighting! premiered its third season, with Zhang in the main cast. He was later revealed as the voice actor of the Chinese dubbing for the main antagonist of the cartoon film Cars 3.
A wax sculpture of him in Madame Tussauds had his exhibition on September 8, 2017 in Beijing. On September 17, 2017, it was confirmed to be or protagonist of drama The Golden Eyes, announced in a pre-release conference. On September 22, S.M. Entertainment revealed a teaser image about his upcoming comeback. On September 25, he released the song "I Need U (需要 你)" as a pre-release track for his first studio album Lay 02 Sheep, digitally released on October 7, 2017, along with the title track "Sheep (羊)".
Image[change | change source]
On October 10, 2013, the survey on the "Top 10 of Asia's Most Beautiful Men" organized by Youth Entertainment's website reported that Lay ranked at #6 position with more than 27 million votes. In April 2014, Lay was ranked #10 in the annual survey of "The Most Beautiful Man of Asia". In March 2017, the Top Star News did a study to see which hallyu stars were most popular in China between January and February 2017, referring to Weibo hashtags, showing Lay at the top with ten billion views and queries.
Endorsements[change | change source]
Between 2015-2016, Lay was chosen to be the spokesperson for several brands, in particular Pancoat and Mentos for which he became the first spokesperson in Asia. He also became Asia's first male artist to endorse Vichy, and China's first endorser for Planters. In addition to endorsing the Lay's brands, Olay, Clarisonic, Kangshifu Ice Tea, Tide, Huawei, AirBender, Chushou TV, Tmall and Cornetto.
Philanthropy[change | change source]
On February 13, 2015, Lay participated in the "LOVE TO GO HOME" community service. The service was carried out by Chinese bicycle company AIMA to help people who were returning home during Lunar New Year holidays on motorcycles. Lay represented all EXO members and handed out hot water bags, handkerchiefs, emergency medicine, ramen, water and toys for everyone. And he also received a plaque from AIMA for help. Lay said:
|“||"I am honored to be able to participate in a significant public service for China's biggest holiday, the Lunar New Year. For many people who are returning home, their health and safety is the most important thing, so it was significant for me to help them at least a little. I want to participate regularly in public services. The EXO is planning to show several pictures this year, so please show us lots of love."||”|
On October 7, 2015, Lay fans collected money that was donated on their behalf for the construction of a well and a public toilet in a needy village in Cambodia. On October 6, the fan club "DAILYIXING" posted photos of the finished project, including photos of some of the village residents with a sign thanking Lay and wishing him a happy birthday. In addition, the fan club collected used clothing to donate through the OTCAN charity. They also donated money on behalf of Lay to the Coal Briquettes organization for neighbors in Korea, which helps keep the heat needed in the winter by providing them with charcoal briquettes for their heaters.
Discography[change | change source]
Studio album[change | change source]
- 2017: Lay 02 Sheep
EP[change | change source]
- 2016: Lose Control
Filmography[change | change source]
Movies[change | change source]
|2015||SMTOWN The Stage||Himself||SM Town documentary|||
|Ex Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back||Lee Xiang He||Special appearance|
|Oh My God||Le Yi||Main role|
|2016||Fighting The Movie: Royal Treasure||Himself|
|2017||Kung Fu Yoga||Xiao Guang||Support role|
|The Founding Of An Army||Lu De Ming|
|Unexpected Love||Han Bing||Main role|
Television[change | change source]
|2014||Music Billboard Charts||MC|
|2015||Go Fighting (Ultimate Challenge)||Regular|
|To Be A Better Man||Xiao Cai|
|2016||Old Nine Gates||Er Yue Hong|
Web dramas[change | change source]
|2015||EXO Next Door||Lay||Recurrent|
Bibliography[change | change source]
|2015||Standing Firm At 24||Autobiography|
Awards and nominations[change | change source]
|2015||Asian Influence Awards||Best Influential All-Rounded Artist||Won|||
|Eastern Entertainment Influence Awards||Music Pioneer of the Year||Won|||
|BaiduMusic King Awards||Best OST of the Year||Alone (一个人)||Won|||
|2016||Top Chinese Music Awards||Best OST of the Year||Alone (一个人)||Won|||
|Best Newcomer Award||Won|||
|The 4th Vchart Awards||Best Film Song of the Year||Alone (一个人)||Won|||
|2017||The 5th Vchart Awards||Top Male Artist (Mainland)||Won|||
|Best Album of the Year||Lose Control||Won|||
|2016||The 18th Tripod Awards||Best New Actor Award||Nominated|||
|China International Film Festival||Best Supporting Role Award||Ex-Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back||Won|||
|The 3rd Actors of China Awards||Best Actor of the Year||Nominated|||
|2017||The 22nd Tripod Awards||Best New Actor Award||To Be A Better Man||Nominated|||
|The 2nd China Drama Awards||Best All-Rounded Artist||Won|||
|2015||The 12th Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards||Best Beauty of the Year||Won|||
|2016||China Writer's Rich List Awards||Celebrity Author Award (4th Prize)||Standing Firm at 24 ( 而立·24 )||Won|||
|Entertainment Sharing Night Ceremony||Most Influential Idol Award||Won|||
|Asia Book Awards||Terrific Author of the Year||Standing Firm at 24 ( 而立·24 )||Won|||
|2016ENAwards||Influential Artist List||Won|||
|2017||CCTV Flowers in the May Gala||Outstanding Youth Award||Won|||
|Esteemed Comradely Youth Award||Won|||
|2017 Weibo TV Online Video Awards||Most Weibo Fans Award||Won|||
|14th Esquire Man At His Best Awards||Man of the Year Award||Won|||
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