10 things you need to know about Liu Yifei, the new Mulan

So you might already know that Liu Yi Fei is the actress playing Mulan in the upcoming Disney remake.

The live-action remake might have made a few changes that fans are not too pleased with, including the removal of the characters Li Shang and Mushu, as well as the musical numbers. But there are still many reasons to get excited for this version of Mulan and one of it is because of how seriously badass Liu Yifei looks as a female warrior.

If you still don't know anything about the 32-year-old actress who is playing the role, here are 10 interesting facts about China's sweetheart, Liu Yifei!

1. SHE IS THE NEXT MULAN

The first thing you need to know is that she beat out many other applicants for the highly contested role of Mulan-1,000 to be exact! Disney revealed that they screened through over 1,000 auditions from over five different continents during their selection process. Here’s the criteria they set: fluent in English, has star quality and good martial arts skills. You know there’s gotta be something special about an actress who beat out 1,000 other auditionees!

2. SHE GOES BY A FEW NAMES

Liu Yifei isn't her birth name. She was given the name An Feng at birth, following her father An Shaokang's surname. However, the actress later changed her surname to that of her mother's after her parents got divorced. At that time, she went by Liu Ximeizi, followith the 'Liu' of her Mother, Liu Xiaoli. Liu Yifei is actually just a stage name she goes by and she also goes by the name Crystal Liu when she does promotions in English speaking countries. We would have never thought Liu Yifei wasn't her real name but whatever name she chooses to go by, we still love her!

3. SHE HAS THE NICKNAME 'FAIRY SISTER'

Yifei has been bestowed a very cute nickname in China called 'Fairy Sister' which she earned when she entered showbiz in 2005. Her lead role in Chinese Paladin captured the hearts of many as a younger sister figure. Since then, she has been viewed as one of China's sweethearts and also one of the top actresses of the new generation. In 2009, she was even crowned one of the new four dan actresses, which is a title given to the most popular actresses in the country. It will definitely be interesting to see her transform from the dainty 'fairy sister' to a fierce fighter like Mulan in the upcoming movie remake.

4. SHE SPEAKS A FEW LANGUAGES

Yifei speaks quite a handful of languages. The Chinese actress is not only fluent in Mandarin, but is also able to speak English with ease, having spent a few years of her life growing up in New York. Aside from being fluent in both English and Mandarin, Yifei is also able to speak basic Korean and Japanese. Is there anything she can't do?

5. SHE IS NOT NEW TO HOLLYWOOD

Mulan will not be Yifei's first appearance on the Hollywood big screen. The actress has actually played numerous roles in various big Hollywood blockbusters, including The Forbidden Kingdom in 2008, in which she acted alongside martial arts experts, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. She also starred in Outcast alongside Hayden Christensen and Nicholas Cage in 2014. Most recently, in 2017, she was in the period romance titled The Chinese Widow with actress Emile Hirsch. And now she’s proven herself ready for her big Hollywood break as Mulan.

6. SHE IS A MODEL

Yifei actually started her career as a child model back when she was just eight years old. Aside from acting, she also does modelling on the side and has made a name for herself in the modelling industry. Over the years, Yifei was the face of numerous high-profile campaigns and the brand ambassador of many prominent brands such as Garnier and Pantene in China. It's almost impossible to walk around in China and not stumble upon an advertisement adorned with her face.

7. SHE HAS A SINGING CAREER

Yes, she can sing too! Yifei was signed under Sony Music Entertainment Japan back in 2005 and has since launched two albums. The first Japanese single she released, "Mayanoka no Door" was so catchy that it was even selected to become the theme song for the animation series Powerpuff Girls Z. Just listen to her beautiful voice in her 2006 song "Want My Taste" and you can tell Yifei is truly a girl worth fighting for.

8. SHE’S TRAINED IN SWORD FIGHTING AND MARTIAL ARTS

One of the most badass facts about Yifei is that she is skilled in sword fighting and martial arts! She has already showed off some of her skills in the 2008 movie The Forbidden Kingdom when she held her own beside martial arts legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li. She does a lot of her own stunts for her movies and has been training hard for her role as Mulan. We are definitely excited to see her show off her flexibility and strength as a warrior in the upcoming movie!

9. SHE USED TO DATE SONG SEUNG HEON

Yes, we are talking about Korean heartthrob Song Seung Heon. The two of them met and started dating while filming for the show The Third Way of Love back in 2015. Although the two of them called it quits back after three years together due to their busy schedules, they are still reportedly close friends til today.

10. SHE LOVES CATS

When we say she loves cats, we really mean she LOVES cats. Yifei and her mother often work closely with a non-profit organisation to take in stray cats and help the little pawed pals find a new home. In fact, in her Beijing flat, she once had over 30 cats living there with her at one time. Yifei really loves cats and she makes the effort to go out of the way to care for them. We stan a queen with a kind loving heart for animals!

This article was first published in Cleo