Fan Bingbing: Can her career come back after the tax evasion scandal?
Fan Bingbing was once a top name in China. A global fashion icon, Bingbing was the highest paid celebrity according to Forbes China four years in a row. With roles in hit films like Cell Phone, Lost in Bejing, and I Am Not Madame Bovary, Fan Bingbing was a household name.
Her fall from grace came when she was detained by Chinese authorities in 2018 and disappeared from the public eye for three months. Turns out, Fan Bingbing was charged with tax evasion, and owed the government over $127 million dollars. Since she apologized for her tax evasion activity, Bingbing hasn’t been in any projects.
Why is Fan Bingbing’s reputation hurt?
To fans of Fan Bingbing outside of China, it may seem like a minor issue the actress committed tax evasion. But in China, a communist country, going against the government for any reason can mean more than just a fine. The fact Fan Bingbing only had to pay a fine and apologize is astonishing, as China has exiled citizens before for their crimes.
Because of her crimes, Fan Bingbing was unofficially blacklisted in the entertainment industry. You can see this with the C-drama Win The World. The show finished filming in September 2017, but both Bingbing and her co-star Gao Yunxiang had their own scandals in 2018. As a result, the production company behind the show was rumored in 2019 to replace Bingbing and Yunxiang with different actors.
For the time being, the only project Bingbing has lined up is the spy-thriller 355, starring alongside Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, and Sebastian Stan. While the film is currently set for a 2021 release, there is no word on if the date will be changed due to COVID-19.
A problematic ambassador for brands
It’s clear Fan Bingbing’s light is not shining as bright as it once was. The internet, however, is almost certain her career is over after a mishap at a Chinese car event back on September 27th. Bingbing posted photos to her Weibo from the event, posing with the new SUV and praising the company for its new product.
However, the car brand did not acknowledge Bingbing at all, only posting photos of other actors at the event such as Jin Dong & Song Jia. Allegedly, a staffer from the event claims Fan Bingbing was not a guest of the event, and attended as a customer. Therefore, the brand had no obligation to share photos of her.
Fans of Bingbing’s came to her defense though, saying her brand is still damaged due to her tax evasion scandal. Therefore, brands may still want her at the event, but cannot publicly acknowledge their ties to Bingbing. Plus, Bingbing is still constantly followed by paparazzi and the media, which would be a waste if she wasn’t still a star.
Can she come back?
Fan Bingbing has a chance to make a huge splash back in the C-drama community thanks to Win the World. While the production company behind the show was rumored to be replacing Bingbing and her co-star back in 2019, the story changed fairly quickly. In May 2020, Win the World was announced as part of streaming service Youku’s lineup.
No changes to the cast were to be made. The only thing changed about Win the World was the episode count was lowered to sixty. While shelving shows starring controversial stars is not a new practice in China, digging them back out to air them is. The reaction to the news around Win the World was relatively positive though, showing Fan Bingbing still has a significant number of fans.
Before the announcement, Fan Bingbing also appeared on the cover of a few international fashion magazines, including Flaunt & L’Officiel. Numerous beauty brands still used Bingbing to promote their products as well. Win the World though will be the real test for studios to see if people have forgiven Bingbing for her crimes.