Zhang Yixing, from the last Chinese member to stay with EXO to the company’s chairman at the age of 30

Zhang Yixing is known as one of the most talented and stable young artists in China today.

With the participation of many famous idols such as Wang Yibo, Han Kyung, Zhang Yixing or Henry Lu… The first episode of “Street Dance Of China” season 4 has officially aired and received many attention from fans.

As a familiar character in the previous season, with this return, Zhang Yixing continues to become the focus of attention of netizens. He is a trending name in Chinese showbiz because of his outstanding career. Appearing on the poster with the representative beast is a powerful red dragon – an image that perfectly fits the story of Lay Zhang’s career path. Because perhaps few people know that, before achieving these achievements, Zhang Yixing had to go through an arduous and challenging journey to be able to become the successful man as he is today.

Zhang Yixing
Captain Zhang Yixing with the representative beast is the Red Dragon – an image that fits the story of his career path

A child prodigy and the magical connection with art since childhood

Born in China, from an early age, Zhang Yixing was known as a child star. His first role was at the age of 6 in the movie ‘We The People’. At the age of 9, he joined a Chinese TV program as a fan club member of Lin Zhiying – a famous Taiwanese artist. This was the opportunity for the boy Zhang Yixing to come in contact with the entertainment industry. The child prodigy he is, in 2005, he won 3rd place in the Star Academy contest organized by Hunan radio when he was 14 years old.

Zhang Yixing
Zhang Yixing has been a child star since childhood
Zhang Yixing
The boy won 3rd prize in the 2005 Star Academy contest

In 2008, Zhang Yixing – who was famous as an excellent student because of his academic achievements at High School – Hunan Normal University decided to participate in the global audition of SM Entertainment. This was probably a predetermined destiny for the “jewel” of the entertainment industry. After the audition, he became an SM trainee and debuted as a member of EXO in 2012.

Zhang Yixing
In 2008, he passed SM’s audition and became a trainee

From here, the artistic path of this talented guy officially begins.

A challenging journey

To achieve today’s success, Zhang Yixing had to overcome countless difficulties and challenges.

Zhang Yixing debuted with EXO in 2012, taking the stage name Lay. It’s fair to say that, for Lay, his period working with the SM boy band can be considered a roller coaster ride.

Zhang Yixing
In 2012, Zhang Yixing took the stage name Lay and debuted with EXO
Zhang Yixing

EXO was labeled as the “golden-spoon” group right from its beginning. Their way to success, however, was not easy. Following the outstanding achievements of “Growl,”  it was anticipated that the group would attain its golden peak. Still, a horrible incident happened: The Chinese members left the group one by one. This incident was a shock to EXO members and their fans as well. Since 2015, EXO has officially only worked with the 9-member lineup, of which only Lay is a foreigner.

Zhang Yixing
3 Chinese members leaving the group was a shock to EXO when only Lay was the only foreign member left

Lay has been under a lot of pressure from fans since the Chinese members left. Netizens always speculated, doubted, even imposed on him leaving EXO. However, despite the negative public opinion, he continued to stay and work as a member of the SM group. Even though he has been unable to promote with the group consistently due to numerous political issues between Korea and China, Lay has found a way to interact with and participate in the group’s activities. Lay was most recently seen with EXO in the music video “Don’t Fight The Feeling,” which was released in June 2021.

Zhang Yixing
Lay faced a lot of difficulties after choosing to stay with EXO
Zhang Yixing
Recently Lay participated in EXO’s latest comeback

Lay was known as an all-rounder with his ability to compose music, stable singing skills, and outstanding dancing ability.  Above all, a valuable point in him was his relentless efforts.  He was also known as the hardest-working member of the group, regularly practicing for 12-18 hours a day. However, during his time in Korea, he was considered one of the least popular members of EXO.

Therefore, in 2015, after many negotiations with the management company, Zhang Yixing became the first artist to be allowed by SM Entertainment to set up a personal studio (a form of management company only serving 1 artist) in China. This represented a significant change of the male idol on the rigorous route of artistic work.

The powerful “red dragon” of Chinese showbiz – The company’s CEO at the age of 30 with outstanding achievements

Returning to the domestic market, Zhang Yixing has quickly attained success. He has actively worked in many fields and achieved certain achievements.

 Zhang Yixing has released many solo music products and has become a popular name in the Chinese entertainment industry. He directly participated in the production of the songs, responsible for composing, arranging and writing lyrics… Lay’s 2016 song “Lose Control” used to rank 1st on Billboard‘s China V Chart for six consecutive weeks, and is one of the most viewed music videos worldwide. From this milestone, Lay’s following releases have placed a certain influence on the music market.

Lay’s acting career is also outstanding when he has starred in several dramas and movies. His most known works, where his acting is highly appreciated, include ‘The Golden Eyes’, ‘The Mystic Nine’,… Notably, in 2016, he won in the category ” Best Supporting Actor” at the China-UK Film Festival, thanks to his performance in ‘Ex Files 2: The Backup Strikes Back’.

Zhang Yixing
Lay’s acting career is also outstanding when he has started in several dramas and movies

Lay became the first visual spokesperson for Tmall International, a brand of Alibaba Group, and many other fashion and advertising brands.  He also released the autobiography Standing Firm 24 and won the “Best Crossover Book Of The Year” award – an award for books written by amateur authors in 2015.

Appearing on a variety of entertainment programs, Zhang Yixing’s name now is more popular than ever before. As a host and coach, he appeared on the two most popular survival reality shows in China, ‘Idol Producer 2018’ and ‘Youth With You 2019′. He was also the captain of the show ‘Street Dance of China 2020’, which he has continued to return for the following season in 2021.

Now, at the age of 30, Zhang Yixing has become the chairman of Chromosome Entertainment Group, which he single-handedly built from his personal studio.

Zhang Yixing

It is no surprise that the image of “dragon” is used for Zhang Yixing, considering the ups and downs of his career path. Earlier in 2020 when returning with the song “LIT”, he once shared: “In the MV of this song, the dragon image represents my aspirations and wishes. So, I want to remind you that, as long as you want to do something, then you will definitely do it. You can’t turn into a dragon after all, but at least, you can see that you have to spend something to get it back.”

Zhang Yixing

With his unremitting efforts to improve himself, bravely facing attacks or opposing opinions to become better and better, Zhang Yixing has now made himself an excellent artist, an ideal model for many others. 

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