Don’t know EXO’s Lay Zhang yet? Here’s why you’ll want to?
The cultural impact of idols cannot be understated. These stars are dancing their way into our hearts through their well choreographed boy band moves. Then just as the fire is hot, they make the jump from singer to actor and blow up on the big screen. Wang Yibo did it, and we know how much you love him. So maybe you’ll love Lay from EXO just as much.
We know as you’re jamming out to EXO hits like “Growl” and “Monster”, you’re dreaming of the boys singing in your ear. Well, let’s introduce you personally to Lay Zhang, because he’s much more than a one trick pony. He’s also an author, businessman, actor, and ambassador. Let’s start at the beginning of Lay’s rise to stardom.
His career before EXO
Like most boys of idol status, Lay got his start auditioning with SM Entertainment in their idol trainee program. But before he auditioned in 2008, Lay had a few TV credits under his name. Most notably, a role on the TV drama We the People. Lay also had credits on a variety of TV variety shows in guest appearances.
After his time as an idol trainee but before he officially debuted with EXO, Lay found himself working with group Shinee. During their 2011 Shinee World tour, Lay joined as Jonghyun’s dance replacement for a few shows. You can argue Lay is the master idol, as he was part of two different groups.
Lay and EXO
Anyone who’s even slightly a fan of EXO knows Lay, as he was one of the first four revealed with the group in 2012. Through his first few years in EXO, Lay helped compose songs for the group as well as a few solo performances for their tour.
While Lay has had a solo music career and an affluent career in film in recent years, Lay has stayed with the group and is still a member. Most recently, Lay appeared on EXO’s sixth album Don’t Mess Up My Tempo in 2018 with the other eight members. He may not have performed live with the group since 2014, but he still keeps in contact with his bandmates.
Beginnings of a legendary acting career
Breaking into the film industry, Lay had his first role as support in the 2015 rom-com Ex-Files 2. For his role, he won Best Supporting Actor at China Britain Film Festival. The song he wrote for the film, “Alone (One Person)” also was a number one hit and won him a few soundtrack awards.
At the same time, he joined the Chinese variety show Go Fighting! and has been with the show since season one, even starring in the spin-off film Royal Treasure. While all of this is going on, Lay published his autobiography Standing Firm at 24, looking back on his time in EXO and his beginnings in acting.
While Lay was jumping between TV dramas and feature films, he found his way to international acclaim through his music and film career. On the musical side of things, Lay played his first US performance in 2018 at Lollapalooza alongside Alan Walker. Lay was the only Chinese attendee to the 2019 Grammys, and was an ambassador for Valentino at the 2019 Met Gala.
On the film side of things, Lay was chosen to be the Chinese dub for Jackson Storm in Cars 3. His most recent project, Unexpected Love, was announced at the Cannes Film Festival, but if you follow Wang Yibo, you know that film has been in post production for three years with no release in sight. But no worries, you can catch Lay now in C-dramas Empress of the Ming and The Golden Eyes.