An actress of almost eerie, otherworldly beauty and simmering intensity, Zhang Ziyi burst onto the international film scene with her role as the governor's daughter in Ang Lee's acclaimed martial arts adventure Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Stunningly convincing despite her lack of martial arts skills, Zhang's dramatic talents were equally impressive, and she was soon cast in such highly regarded films as Zhang Yimou's Hero and big-budget stateside efforts as Rush Hour 2. Born in Beijing to a working-class family that included her economist father, kindergarten teacher mother, and an older brother, Zhang found creative outlets early with dancing and gymnastics. At the age of 11, she was accepted into a secondary school affiliated with the acclaimed Beijing Dancing College. Though her skills earned Zhang numerous awards there, she soon became frustrated with the pressures of school and began seeking other creative outlets. At 15, she enrolled in Beijing's Central Drama Academy, where she finally seemed to find her niche. Fate sealed the deal when the aspiring actress auditioned for a role in a shampoo commercial directed by acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou, and after working with her, the veteran director thought her ideal for the lead in his upcoming movie The Road Home (2000). Cast as a young girl who falls in love with an older teacher, the film won international praise, in addition to numerous awards.