With China’s college entrance exam proving to be a watershed in his own life, Huang Lei examines how gaokao can strain, and strengthen, familial bonds in his latest TV drama, Xu Fan reports.
At 18 years old, after concluding gaokao-China’s college entrance exams-Huang Lei was admitted to the Beijing Film Academy.
While he was there, he was lucky enough to be offered a lead role in the art house film Life on A String by renowned director Chen Kaige, which was due to be shot in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.
That was in 1990, when most urban families in China earned around 100 yuan ($14.2) per month. Huang’s father, an established artist, saw him off at the railway station in Beijing and gave him 90 yuan, which Huang cautiously divided into several smaller amounts and hid in different places about his person and possessions to keep it from being stolen.
Those last minutes where his father waved
to bid him farewell have been etched in Huang’s mind for decades.
For the actor, scriptwriter and director who will turn 48 years old in December, gaokao was a watershed moment in his life.
From his point of view, the exam was not just about enrolling in an excellent college, but also about the huge impact it had on his family.