You can love or hate Kris Wu, but you can't ignore him. With over 27 million Weibo followers and another 5.6 million Instagram fans, the 27-year-old actor-singer-songwriter is one of the most influential superstars in China . His ambition is to achieve worldwide fame.
Many Asian celebrities have made their global breakthroughs with action films, but Wu is definitely not to this category. He already has an impressive portfolio of box-office hits, chart-topping EPs and ambassador deals with luxury brands the likes of Burberry and Bulgari. Wu is keen to be known as an all-round Asian star with a specific edge in hip-hop music.
Despite Wu's strong following in China, he is set to woo global fans with his music and influence.
Last month, Wu's EP, Deserve, has made him the first Chinese artist to top the chart on US iTunes. Wu's unexpected yet smooth transition from teen pop idol to Chinese hip-hop advocate owes its success to the reality show “The Rap of China”. The show has gathered 2.7 billion views online and has been a cultural phenomenon.
Wu's hip-hop status was at first challenged. However, it didn't stop fans from following his every move, from his distinctive fashion wardrobe to his hairstyle. Even his catchphrase “Can you freestyle” made headlines and internet memes.
Now with The Rap of China’s impressive track record, Wu aims to take the Chinese hip-hop culture even further.
Like many of today’s affluent Chinese millennials, Wu received an education overseas and returned to China to develop his career.
Unlike many ofChinese celebrities who made their career first in the domestic market, Wu made his showbiz debut as a member of K-pop group EXO, which became one of the most popular K-pop groups in South Korea and overseas.
Wu’s success overseas also opened doors for him back home. His Chinese EP Time Boils the Rain was a chart-topping hit in 2014. He made his big screen debut in the following year with the melodrama, Somewhere Only We Know, directed by Xu Jinglei. The film debuted at No. 1 at the Chinese box office, grossing almost US$38 million in six days following its release.
He also starred in action drama Mr. Six, along with Feng Xiaogang and Zhang Hanyu, and fantasy thriller Journey to the West, directed by Tsui Hark. Both hit the box-office jackpot.
This year marks the beginning of Wu’s global expansion. He made his Hollywood debut with action film xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Luc Besson also cast him in the sci-fi fantasy, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Wong Kar-wai will also cast Wu in his upcoming film, titled Blossoms.
Filmmakers are not the only ones who want to tap into the gold mine of Wu’s stardom. Wu’s been by luxury brands hoping to engage with the millennial generation consumers.
Burberry was one of the first international luxury brands to collaborate with Wu. The brand made him its first Chinese ambassador. The “Kris Wu effect” cast a magic spell on Burberry sales. Many other luxury houses quickly followed suit. Bulgari, for example, named him brand ambassador earlier this year.
Wu might still have a long way ahead of him, but he is certainly ready to take his stardom to the next level. He says that hard work is his ingredient to success.