Retiree beats out thousands to win spot in prestigious Beijing Film Academy

Du Songye took up acting five years ago to keep busy. Now she’s going to learn the craft with the country’s best young talent

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2018, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 12:03pm

An elderly extra who has appeared in about a dozen Chinese films and TV dramas has won a place in one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts programmes.

Du Songye, a 67-year-old retiree from Luoyang in Henan province, who took up acting five years ago to keep busy, has been accepted by the School of Continuing Education at the Beijing Film Academy, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

Admission to Beijing Film Academy is highly competitive by local and international standards. Out of 100,000 applications, only 400 to 500 students are admitted each year.

A school staff member said they initially did not want to offer Du a place because of her age but she performed very well in the interview part of the examination process.

Du said that when she retired in 2013 she joined up with a group of senior citizens who modelled in fashion shows but she found the events too tiring.

A friend then suggested she try out for a small part in a local play, which soon led to roles in film and television.

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To date, she has more than 50 film and TV roles to her name, most of them shot in either Beijing or the Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang.

She appeared alongside leading actress Zhao Liying in one TV series and can reportedly cry on cue.

She said she wanted to study acting because many of her colleagues on set had qualifications, the report said.

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The academy’s degree programme takes for four years, and features training by teachers from the New York Film Academy and Hong Kong’s TVB training centre, according to the BFA’s website.