Agenda Magazine: Up and Close with Bai Ling

Agenda Magazine - Was performing something that you had the desire for since childhood or was it something that you developed at an older age?

Bai Ling - I think I'm living life in the moment. Like right now with you; we're talking. I can't really think far. So I didn't really think that I wanted to be an actress or anything. I don't know. The whole world is open to me. The world is a mystery and full of surprises. I was very shy as a student. The teacher would ask me a question and I wouldn't talk.

They sent me to the office and kept me there. After school, they brought my parents and told them "she doesn't respond." My parents were embarrassed and tried to cover me up. I sort of felt like I stepped out of my body. Like, what's going on? I just couldn't talk. I don't know why I was so shy and that I was afraid of something. But there was this beautiful rich world inside of me like a reduced universe. I could draw all the sources from inside. If I didn't find some way to access it, to express it, I was going to explode. So I think acting's the best way for me. It's sort of like I crossed the threshold into another side of the world. I don't have to be me so I don't have to be afraid, and I can pretend to be somebody else and access all the emotions I have for the characters. It's the best job. I was asked the question, why are you so shy and you're doing this? But suddenly on your journey you learn about yourself¿to embrace myself, to understand Bai and to best service her. It's like I was a wild animal in my previous life running on the field. I felt like I was free in the nature. I dance wild. I love dancing. That's the only exercise I do. But I am the human form of body with an animal spirit. That's why I am shy. When I was a child I wondered what should I do? And I only figured out now. Finally now, I am comfortable being Bai Ling talking with you. And I decide what characters I play; sometimes wild characters. I dance and I am crazy. This is the fun part of me.

AM - I guess that's part of the white spirit. Do you remember when and what was the first performance you had, whether it was theater or a musical or film?

Bai Ling - I learned instruments. I have to thank my parents. When I was a child, there were three things that enriched my soul: 1. Being in the nature naked and chasing after the animals, 2. My grandfather teaching me to remember poems from Chinese ancient literature,and 3. Music.

I played violin professionally and my sister and I were fighting over which instrument to learn. My father finally switched me to a beautiful four-stringed Chinese instrument like guitar, but when you play it, it covered half of your face. It's elegant and educational for the child. So what was the question? (laughs).

AM - What was the first performance you had, and how old were you?

Bai Ling - I think I was in school singing. When I was 14, I was singing Tibet in the liberation army for 3 years. So I sang Tibetan songs. I sing wildly, I dance. Some people say I am a singer, but I never pursued a career. But I would like to one day make a record. Because I can sing sexy like Elvis. "Wise men say, only fools rush in¿." The lyrics I like, it's very romantic.

I'm writing a book about my experience in Tibet. through a fourteen year old's perspective. It's different as an adult, you see things the way society has trained you. It's sort of polluted in a way. But as a child at fourteen years old, it's a different perspective; so a fourteen year old's view of looking at life in Tibet.

Read full interview at Agenda Magazine

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