Gong Li (simplified Chinese: 巩俐; traditional Chinese: 鞏俐; pinyin: Gǒng Lì; born December 31, 1965) is a Chinese-born film actress. Gong first came into international prominence through close collaboration with Chinese director Zhang Yimou and is credited with helping bring Chinese cinema to Europe and the United States. She has twice been awarded the Golden Rooster and the Hundred Flowers Awards twice as well as the Berlinale Camera, Cannes Festival Trophy, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Award, and Volpi Cup. She married Singaporean businessman Ooi Hoe Soeng in 1996, and became a Singaporean citizen in 2008.
Gong Li was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, the fifth child in her family. Her father was a professor of economics and her mother, who was 40 when Gong was born, was a teacher. Gong grew up in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province. She was accepted to the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1985, and graduated in 1989. While as a student at Central Academy of Drama, she was discovered by Zhang Yimou, who chose her for the lead role in Red Sorghum, his first film as a director.
Over the next several years after her 1987 debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received both local and international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films: She appeared in Ju Dou in 1990; Her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern put her in the international spotlight; In The Story of Qiu Ju, she was named Best Actress at the 1992 Venice Film Festival. These roles established her reputation, according to Asiaweek, as "one of the world's most glamorous movie stars and an elegant throwback to Hollywood's golden era."