Chinese-Congolese singer Zhong Feifei is taking the Chinese entertainment industry by storm.
Zhong competed on “Produce Camp 2020,” a Chinese reality TV competition where 101 contestants vied to join a seven-member girl group. Think the third generation of MTV and Diddy’s “Making the Band.” The show became an internet sensation in China and abroad as clips of the series circulated on YouTube.
To compete, Zhong took a semester off from getting her master’s degree at John Hopkins University. She prepared extensively for the series, practicing 12 hours a day for two months.
The multilingual star speaks Mandarin, Swahili, French and English. But despite being born in Guangzhou, her Blackness renders her an outsider. However, Zhong didn’t feel as connected to her Congolese heritage until middle school when her family began regularly traveling to the Congo.
“I grew up like in China and I go to school with other Chinese kids,” Zhong told the Associated Press. “I wasn’t growing up that much as a biracial, like in a biracial way, because I spend most my time with my Chinese side, my Chinese family. So it’s like, imagine a Chinese kid moving to Africa and that would be me at that time.”
But as the underdog, the 24-year-old thrived, making it to the second-to-last stage of the competition without ever having taken a dance or singing class. Now, Zhong receives fan mail from people praising her for bringing diversity into the forefront of Chinese culture. While she says she did not experience much prejudice in her childhood, people do stare.
“I mean, I definitely get stared a lot,” Zhong told the Associated Press. “But I think — I think I’m, I’m lucky. Like I always like to say that I’m a lucky person. Because growing up my family were quite protective and they, I was able to go to private school, was able to, like my — my environment was very protective.”
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