Zhang Ziyi (Chinese: 章子怡, pinyin: Zhāng Zǐyí; born February 9, 1979) is a Chinese film actress and singer. Zhang is considered one of the Four Young Dan actresses (四小花旦) in China, along with Zhao Wei, Xu Jinglei, and Zhou Xun. With a string of Chinese and international hits to her name, she has worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Chen Kaige, Jackie Chan, Seijun Suzuki and Rob Marshall.
Zhang was born and raised in Beijing, China, the daughter of Zhang Yuan Xiao, an economist, and Li Zhou Sheng, a kindergarten teacher. Zhang joined the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11. When Zhang's parents suggested she attend the school, she was skeptical. While at this boarding school, she noticed how catty the other girls were while competing for status amongst the teachers. Zhang disliked the attitudes of peers and teachers, so much that, on one occasion, she ran away from the school.
Zhang entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama (regarded as the top acting college in China) at the age of 15.