67-year-old Juniper Yeh shows what it means to be a lifelong learner
For many students out there, fighting to get into a desired school or course may seem like an arduous and impossible task. Many of us have faced rejection, whether it be due to unsatisfactory grades or stiff competition. Well, here’s a story of 67-year-old Juniper Yeh from China which may inspire you to not give up on your dreams!
Who is Juniper Yeh?
Juniper (杜松叶 in Chinese) is a 67-year-old woman from Luoyang, China.
She has been admitted to the Beijing Film Academy in March and is about to embark on a one-year adult education performance study. Fun fact: she is the oldest student admitted to the Beijing Film Academy since it was founded as the enrollment age of the school has originally been limited to 60-years-old and under!
As one can guess, getting admittance to this prestigious school at her age was not an easy task.
Her first encounter with performing arts was in 2014 after she had retired. Like most senior citizens in China, she had tried to engage in several activities to occupy her time after retiring, but performing arts intrigued her the most. She originally worked in the government sector and in 1999, stepped down from her position to set up her own company.
By chance, she came across a melodramatic film shooting and was invited to participate. At first, she had rejected the idea as she felt inexperienced. However, she decided to go for it in the end to challenge herself and put up a good show. After her first role, she went on to take up more than 20 roles in melodramatic mini-movies in Luoyang including “Atonement” and and “A Dream of Redemption”, more often than not acting as a mother or grandmother in the show.
Journey to Hengdian
For those who may be unaware, Hengdian is a town in Zhejiang, China which houses Hengdian World Studios, the largest film studio in the world. Many aspiring actors (or 横漂 in Chinese) head to Hengdian to gain experience and hopefully find fame.
On November 13 in 2015, she decided to travel to Hengdian after acting with a younger Hengdian actor who had shown great skill. After obtaining her family’s support, she took action and travelled alone with instructions given by her co-actor.
At Hengdian, Juniper had to endure a brutal daily schedule that started as early as 3am and ended at 12am in the morning. For her efforts, she only received 70 yuan for 8 hours and 10 yuan more per additional hour, making her daily salary less than 30 SGD.
After being a “drifter” at Hengdian for a year, Juniper realized that most of her fellow drifters were either signing on with companies as actors or attending performing arts schools, highlighting the distint difference between her and everyone else due to age. This was further exacerbated by the strict age restictions imposed by domestic film and television universities.
In March 2018, Juniper sent in her application to Beijing Film Academy and got a chance to audition (a physical performance which included vocal performances and poetry readings) despite all odds. 2 days later, she received an admission notice from the Adult Education Performance Program.
Studying at Beijing Film Academy
Juniper has mentioned that she hopes to keep a low profile and concentrate on pursuing her interest of performing. She strives to abide by the school’s rules and discipline as well as to be a “lifelong student” who is serious about studying.
She also expressed slight embarrassment at unintentionally creating a record as she only intended to further her passion. However, Juniper stated that her main focus would be seeing the admission as a positive opportunity to grow and improve.
Truly, Juniper is a great role model for students and learners across the world!