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In 2005, ZIYI ZHANG (Kristin Spitz) debuted in her first English language film "Memoirs of a Geisha" alongside Ken Watanabe, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh. Nominated for six 2006 Academy Awards®, the film, directed by Academy-Award® winner Rob Marshall, tells the tale of an impoverished child who is sold to a geisha house and subjected to cruel treatment until one man's kindness transforms her life. For this role, Ms. Zhang (also known as "Z”) received Best Actress nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award and a British Film Academy Award. 

Also released in 2005 is Hong Kong film director Wong Kar-Wei's "2046” which many film critics (from The New York Times to Time magazine) noted Ms. Zhang's most mature and finest performance to date. The film, also starring Tony Leung, is an exploration of a writer's remembrance of things past. It was in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Ms. Zhang won the Best Actress Award given by the 2005 Hong Kong Film Critics' Society and the Best Actress Award at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards. 

Prior to this, Ms. Zhang played the leading role as a blind dancer/martial artist in "House of Flying Daggers." Directed by Zhang Yimou, and co-starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau, the film deals with love and betrayal during the Tang Dynasty. "House of Flying Daggers" was an official selection at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and received a Best Foreign Film nomination at the 2005 Golden Globe Awards and at the 2005 British Film Academy Awards. Ms. Zhang was also nominated for Best Actress at the 2005 BAFTA and she won the Hua Biao Award (China's most prestigious Chinese Government award) for Best Actress. 

In May 2005, "Princess Raccoon” was released in Japan and showcased at the Cannes Film Festival as a bow to its legendary director Seijun Suzuki. Based on a traditional folk tale, this film is a Japanese operetta with flights of fantasy that is the trademark of the 82-year-old director. Ms. Zhang sings and dances opposite her male lead, Joe Odagiri. 

Ms. Zhang collaborated with first-time director Hou Yong to make "Jasmine Women” (also starring Joan Chen). She won China's prestigious Golden Rooster Best Actress Award in 2005 for her portrayal of three women from three generations in this family saga set in Shanghai in the thirties, sixties and eighties. 

Ms. Zhang was one of the ensemble cast in Zhang Yimou's first martial arts film "Hero” which also featured Jet Li, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in the Rashomon-like tale of the assassination of the first emperor of China. "Hero" was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, the 2003 Berlin Film Festival, and the 2003 Academy Awards®. 

In 2003, her role in "Purple Butterfly,” as a young woman caught between love and duty during Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the thirties, won her critical acclaim. "Purple Butterfly,” directed by the award-winning avant-garde Mainland Chinese director Lou Ye, was selected for the prestigious Palme d'Or competition at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2002, Ms. Zhang had a cameo in the Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker blockbuster hit, "Rush Hour 2."  Prior to that, Ms. Zhang delivered a critically acclaimed performance in director Ang Lee's stunning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Released in 2000 the martial arts epic tale of true love, adventure, and intrigue starred Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was nominated for an astonishing 125 awards in 2000 and 2001. Ms. Zhang received 14 nominations, going on to win the 2001 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress and 2000 Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, among others. 

Ms. Zhang's first appearance on screen was also her first star turn -- while still a student at Beijing's Central Drama College, she was offered the lead in Zhang Yimou's 1998 film "The Road Home." Set at the start of China's Cultural Revolution in the 1950's, the film is a beautifully shot, intimate account of a young girl's first love. "The Road Home" was awarded the Grand Jury Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival. 

Ms. Zhang was brought up (and still lives) in Beijing. Her father is a government economist and her mother a retired kindergarten teacher. She has an elder brother. At the age of 11, she was sent to boarding school at the Beijing Dance Academy where she began a 6-year study of traditional folk dance. Upon graduating, she decided to switch career paths. On a lark, she took the entrance exam for China's most prestigious drama school, the Central Drama College, where only eight young girls, among thousands of students from all over the country, would be accepted. 

For the past five years, Ms. Zhang has been named by Forbes as China's Most Influential Person, ranked right after basketball megastar Yao Ming in 2005. The same year, she was named as one of "The Time 100”, Time magazine's list of the world's most influential people. In May 2005, she was featured as the face of China in Newsweek's feature story "China's Century.” In May of 2006, she became the youngest member to serve on the jury of the 59th Cannes Film Festival. 

Ms. Zhang is the Global Ambassador for Special Olympics. She and Governor Schwarzenegger officiated at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai. Ms. Zhang is also the Ambassador for Care for Children, a charity foundation that puts China's orphans into local foster-homes.

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