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25 December 2013
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Chinese actress Yang Mi doesn't mind being labelled a 'vase'
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Good looks can be a disadvantage.

Just ask mainland Chinese actress Mini Yang Mi, a porcelain beauty with dainty, doll-like features.

While the 27-year-old Beijing native is often hailed as one of Chinese cinema's rising stars, critics have been generally unkind, labelling her a "hua ping" (Mandarin for vase - a slang that refers to pretty female stars who lack acting skills).

In last year's mystery flick The Bullet Vanishes, she scored the meaty supporting role of Nicholas Tse's girlfriend, but was outshone by fellow actresses Jiang Yiyan and Yumiko Cheng.

Similarly, in the supernatural fantasy epic Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012), while established thespians Vicki Zhao and Zhou Xun enthralled audiences with their emotional performances, Yang portrayed a forgettable bird spirit.

In an e-mail interview with The New Paper to promote the telecast of her latest movies, Tiny Times and its follow-up Tiny Times 2, on cable TV, Yang said she is hardly bothered by the constant criticism levelled at her.

"I'm not angry if I hear someone call me a 'hua ping'. I believe that every character has its value in a film, no matter how big or small the role is," she said.

"I treat all my roles seriously. The rest is unimportant."

Perhaps the trick is to see the positive in everything - even when you're playing, well, a bird.

"Like most people in the acting business, I like to be surprised. I hope to get parts that surprise me, such as the one in Painted Skin: The Resurrection," she said.

"Nobody had offered me the role of a bird before. So I thought, 'wow, this is pretty interesting'."

The Tiny Times films, part of an ongoing trilogy that follows the lives of high school pals as they move on to college and subsequently the corporate world, weren't spared the dissing too.

Yang plays crybaby Lin Xiao alongside Taiwanese stars Amber Kuo and Kai Ko.

While the films emerged box-office champions in China, they was slammed by reviewers for their overt celebration of materialism, with some even referring to the films as "condoning twisted moral values".

But Yang defended her work.

"Tiny Times revolves around a bunch of youngsters.

"Of course there will be scenarios where we appear immature," she explained.

"But I certainly don't see how we are condoning twisted moral values.

"It's essentially a story about friendship and how four best friends strive to make their dreams come true. More than anything, it reflects the lives of today's youth."

Away from the silver screen, Yang is basking in bliss.

Last month, she announced her engagement to Hong Kong actor Harwick Lau, 39, on her Sina Weibo microblog. The pair, who have been dating for more than two years, will hold their wedding ceremony on Jan 8.

Although she declined to clarify recent rumours that she is pregnant with twins, she accepted our congratulations with a smiley emoticon.

"Thank you very much. Preparations for our wedding are underway and both Harwick and I are very happy," said Yang. "Now, we just want to finish up all our jobs on hand, so that we can get married as planned."