Poor little rich girl?
As the only child of the marriage of Ren Zhengfei, one of the richest men in China, and his second wife, Táo Líng 姚凌, the 23-year-old grew up with professional ballet lessons, attended prestigious schools, and has enjoyed her parents’ social and business connections. In 2018, Yao became one of the 20 women from globally prominent families who attended Le Bal des Debutantes in Paris, the most high-profile debutante ball in the world.
Since then, the aspiring socialite has made frequent appearances at fashion events and in the media. That’s when people started comparing her with Meng, accusing her of making no contribution to her family business while leveraging her father’s wealth for personal fame.
The documentary does address this, with a few self-critical moments when Yao shows her awareness of all the unfavorable opinions about her. But it’s also apparent that she downplayed her famous family in the documentary, perhaps in an attempt to come across as a genuine and relatable person trying to make it in the entertainment industry.
Nonetheless, critics were not pleased. Their main gripe about the documentary was its tone, which they argued offered a deceptive narrative that Yao lifted herself up by her bootstraps. If Yao didn’t have Ren as a father, her doubters point out, her success would have been much harder to come by. “She said she had ‘resigned her life to fate’ before discovering a passion for singing. Apparently, she has no idea that her fate is what millions of people want to have,” a Weibo user commented (in Chinese).
“Stop it!! Stop pretending that you have talent and you worked hard to get where you are,” wrote (in Chinese) another skeptic. “You should learn about privilege. Specifically, that you…have it.”
Many took issue with her struggles portrayed in the short film, including Yao shoveling a bowl of salad into her mouth in the back of a cab while trying to handle a hectic schedule. “The fact that she considered that a struggle speaks volumes about how detached she is from reality,” a critic wrote.
Some also pointed out that her “struggles” paled in comparison with what her half sister, Meng, has been through. “Do you know your sister is on bail and under partial house arrest in Canada? Have you considered making an effort to save her?” another critic chimed in (in Chinese). “She went to Harvard and learned computer science. And yet the idea that she should apply her knowledge in developing Huawei seemed to have never crossed her mind,” said (in Chinese) another critic.
Yao did have some supporters, however, such as a Weibo user who offered (in Chinese), “She is entitled to live her life the way she wants. Keep your sour grapes to yourself. Congrats, girl. You earned it.”
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