HONG KONG: Douglass Fearon never imagined he would make a name for himself as a Mandarin-speaking television and film star in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
But as one of the few black American actors working on the mainland, the 38-year-old New Yorker, who goes by the stage name of Mr OneTwo, is proud of what he has achieved.
“The first time I saw myself on screen, I was so happy – not the normal kind of happy, but a feeling of accomplishment,” he said.
And that is exactly what he went looking for when he gave up his stable job and decent salary as a commercial loan banker in 2008 and moved to Guangzhou to explore his potential.
Nearly a decade on, Mr OneTwo has appeared in seven Chinese films and eight television dramas – and that is in the space of two years, since his acting career began.
His latest role is as an African warlord in the television series Peacekeeping Infantry Battalion, a show that has had nearly 2 billion views on Tencent’s live-streaming platform. It is also aired on Jiangsu Television.
In fact, Mr OneTwo had not considered going to China before 2008, when he was introduced to a recruiter looking for English teachers for universities in Guangzhou.
“I had no idea what China was like, the only thing I knew was that I liked Chinese food. But even so, of course, I found that food in China is so different to what I had in the States,” he said. “At that time, I only planned to be in China for two years, as being a teacher was never my goal.
“But I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry ... I even took acting classes outside of work in America,” he said.
He embraced the challenge, taking Mandarin classes and throwing himself into the task of learning the language – it took just two years for him to become fluent.
Mekael Turner, an American friend he met in Guangzhou, asked him to start a hip-hop group with him and they started performing in nightclubs as HotChocolate.
Soon, he came to the attention of modelling agencies and local television producers, before he shot to fame as the first black man to win popular dating show If You Are the One in 2014, when he was matched with a Chinese woman.
After he appeared on the show, he started receiving offers for television and film parts.
“I am an anomaly. I am a six-foot-one black American man with tattoos who can read, speak and act in Chinese,” he said… (CONTINUED)
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