Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) made her debut in her first television series, “Monarch Industry” (上阳赋) also known as “The Rebel Princess”, which was filmed in 2018. The series finally aired on January 8, 2021. Zhang Ziyi stars as “Princess Shangyang” (Wang Xuan), who doesn’t want her life to be controlled by the imperial family. “Princess Shangyang” only wishes to marry her childhood sweetheart, the third prince, “Zi Dan” (Tony Wang), but her father uses her as a pawn in his plot and marries her off to “Xiao Qi” (Zhou Yiwei). She gets entangled in country affairs and the fight for power in the imperial court against her wishes. “Princess Shangyang” and “Xiao Qi” initially had no feelings for each other, but they later fall in love and save the country together.
The story starts off showing “Princess Shangyang” as a child and her rite of passage as a young woman, where the imperial court is deciding her marriage. After the series aired, there was some heated debate about Zhang Ziyi’s portrayal of the 15 year old version of her character. It’s suspected the production team was trying to create hype for the series by promoting the tagline, “Zhang Ziyi young lady vibes”. This may have backfired as many netizens felt Zhang Ziyi wasn’t suitable to portray a 15 year old and commented that she didn’t exude “young lady vibes”.
Zhang Ziyi addressed the debate about her lacking “young lady vibes” on January 9. She wrote, “Monarch Industry” producers and platforms stop consuming and marketing me as “young lady vibes”. There is nothing wrong with “young lady vibes”, but please don’t force it on me! I was 38 when I portrayed “Wang Xuan”. I’ll be 42 next month. Which one of those numbers have anything to do with “young lady vibes”? I am very clear headed! The moment I received the script, I knew I had to grow up and transform with “Awu” (Princess Shangyang’s nickname in the series). The audience needs a tranquil environment to understand and know “her”. I am carrying out my duty to shape the character. As for the other consumption towards me, there is no need!”