Grassroots performers chase dreams of stardom

Hengdian World Studios, one of China's largest film and television production bases, has made the dreams of some 130,000 performers come true in the past two decades.

Known as hengpiao, or Hengdian drifters, these performers travel long distances from their hometowns to the studios for the chance of finding fame, but they seldom speak lines or appear in credits.

Located in Dongyang city, Zhejiang province, Hengdian World Studios acts as a barometer for the industry.

With many people from the grassroots working hard in the hope of achieving stardom, Hengdian has been transformed from a small town to a major film and TV shooting location, giving these performers the chance to play minor roles in small- and large-screen productions.

Wang Xiaogang was among the first of these performers to arrive in Hengdian. He was once among the huge number of beipiao, or Beijing drifters, who live and work in the Chinese capital with great ambitions, but without permanent homes or a decent quality of life.

Wang traveled to Beijing in 2001 to pursue his dream of becoming an actor, along with many other young people.

At about that time, a free rental policy was implemented in Hengdian, attracting a large number of film and TV crews and performers to settle in the area. Wang and many others left Beijing and traveled to Zhejiang.

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