Zhou Dongyu (周冬雨; born 31 January 1992) is a Chinese actress, who gained recognition after appearing in Zhang Yimou’s film Under the Hawthorn Tree. She was also chosen by Southern Metropolis Daily as one of the “Four Dan actresses of the post-90s Generation”, along with Zheng Shuang, Guan Xiaotong and Yang Zi. In 2016, she won the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress with her performance in Soul Mate.
Zhou Dongyu was born in Shijiazhuang on 31 January 1992, and graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2015.
In 2010, Zhou was picked by Zhang Yimou to star in his film Under the Hawthorn Tree, despite having no acting experience prior to taking on the role. She rose to fame for her appearance in the film and won several awards, including the Best Actress at the 56th Valladolid International Film Spain Festival, Outstanding New Actress at the 14th Huabiao Award and Best New Performer at the 20th Shanghai Film Critics Awards.
In 2011, she starred in Barbara Wong’s romance film The Allure of Tears; and also featured in war film The Road Of Exploring, playing Yang Kaihui, the wife of political leader Mao Zedong.
In 2013, she starred in The Palace, the fourth installment of the Gong series by Yu Zheng. Variety praised her performance saying, “Zhou holds the screen very well, turning an initially daft personality into an angsty but stoical heroine”.
In 2014, she starred alongside Lin Gengxin in youth romance film My Old Classmate. The film topped China’s box office and Zhou was praised for her “acting breakthrough”. The same year, she featured in comedy Breakup Buddies. Opposite to her usual pure and fresh image, Zhou challenged the role of a “Smart” in the film. Breakup Buddies became one of the highest grossing films of all time in China.
In 2015, she starred opposite Ethan Juan in suspense film The Unbearable Lightness of Inspector Fan and youth drama The Ark of Mr. Chow alongside Sun Honglei.
Zhou achieved breakthrough with her performance in the film Soul Mate, based on the novel of the same name by Anni Baobei. Zhou received the Best Actress award at the 53rd Golden Horse Awards together with her Soul Mate co-star Sandra Ma, and also won Best Actress at the 28th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award. The same year, she won the Best Actress award at the 8th Macau International Movie Festival for her performance in the film Never Said Goodbye. Zhou also starred in her first television series, spy war drama Sparrow. The series was commercially successful, and became the highest rated war drama to date with a peak rating of 2.46 and 11 billion online views. Zhou was praised by both the audience and director for successfully tackling a challenging role.
In 2017, Zhou starred alongside Takeshi Kaneshiro in romantic comedy This Is Not What I Expected. The film grossed over 100 million yuan and received a 8.9 out of 10 score on Maoyan. Along with the success of Soul Mate, Zhou was coined the representative of Chinese chick flicks. The same year, she starred in science fiction wuxia film The Thousand Faces of Dunjia directed by Tsui Hark.
In 2018, Zhou stars in the romance film Us and Them alongside Jing Boran; as well as the drama film On The Balcony where she also acts as the producer.