Sexy film roles shouldn't be a barrier to political office: Diana Peng Dan
Past jobs - even raunchy film roles - shouldn't be a barrier to political office, actress insists
A person's background or job should not stop them from seeking election. So says actress-turned-film director and political adviser Diana Peng Dan.
Peng, known for her raunchy roles in the 1990s, caused a stir when she was appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in her native Gansu earlier this year.
"As a citizen you have to care about your country," Peng said of her new role in an interview with the South China Morning Post yesterday. "Everyone has the right to elect and to be elected, regardless of your background."
Peng's appointment to the political advisory body became a topic of debate in Hong Kong, especially when Beijing-loyalist heavyweight Cheng Yiu-tong used the possibility of "sex symbols" getting elected as justification for the screening of candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. Online commentators used Peng's job in Gansu, which follows a string of semi-nude appearances in films and television series, to poke fun at Cheng.
The 40-year-old Peng's latest project, her debut as a film director, also has political connotations. War film On The Nan Ni Wan Frontier will premiere in Hong Kong tonight.
Set during the dark days of the second world war, as China struggled to repel the Japanese invasion, the film features a subplot about revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun , the father of President Xi Jinping .
Peng is no stranger to playing different roles. "As an artist you have to be professional. Today you play the role of a queen, and the next day you play a whore," said Peng, who studied dance and drama at New York's famous Julliard School on a Chinese government scholarship.
After graduating, Peng embarked on a film career in Hong Kong, often taking on roles that showcased her voluptuous figure. She was also a frequent winner of beauty pageants. And while she insists her new job will be secondary to her film career, she describes the CPPCC role as an honour and a great responsibility. "It's like a new job for me. I need to read more books and write proposals, and I have to visit the poor people in the countryside so that I know how to help them, particularly after the earthquake," she says, referring to a deadly quake in July.
But first it's back to the silver screen and a chance to work with Oscar-winning director Ben Affleck on the US$8 million Sino-US co-production B29. Peng says Affleck will direct the war film, with Peng serving as one of its producers. Filming is expected to commence next year.
Video: Diana Peng discusses her newest movie and role in Chinese politics