'Leftover' women are high quality
Mention the colloquial Mandarin term "sheng nu" (which means leftover, unwanted women) to bachelorettes in their 30s, and most would squirm in discomfort.
Not Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan though.
In an e-mail interview with M to promote her new 50-episode drama series We Get Married, the 34-year-old Beijing native jumped to the defence of the widely-hated label.
"In no way do I feel that 'sheng nu' is derogatory," she said.
"Very often, the 'leftovers' in our society are of extremely high quality.
"Just like my character Yang Tao in the show, many people choose to be left on the shelf simply because they believe in waiting for the right one."
We Get Married stars veteran Chinese actor Huang Haibo as a cynical administrator of divorce cases who has been set up on a blind date with hotel manager Yang, kick-starting a love-hate relationship between them.
It is showing on weeknights at 11pm on Celestial Movies (StarHub Ch 868/SingTel mio Ch 585).
NOT ON SHELF
Gao herself - last seen on the big screen in Hong Kong director Johnnie To's 2013 action comedy Blind Detective - has not qualified as a sheng nu for quite a while.
She has been dating handsome Taiwanese actor Mark Chao, 29, for more than two years now.
While Gao declined to answer any questions directly related to Chao, it was evident from her pragmatic view on marriage that she is more than ready to walk down the aisle with him.
"All sorts of problems and crises will definitely arise after marriage, but that's precisely what a married couple should go through," she said.
"They should overcome difficulties and hurdles together."
For fans of Gao's movies who are wondering what motivated her to return to TV after her critically acclaimed films such as City of Life and Death (2009), the versatile actress explained that she has always had a soft spot for television.
Her last drama series was Love With No Regret in 2008.
"I've always wanted to do TV again but for a long time, I couldn't find any script that touched me, until I read (the script of) We Get Married," she said.
...Many people choose to be left on the shelf simply because they believe in waiting for the right one to appear.
- Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan