10 Rising C-Drama Actors With High Potentials of Popularity Explosion

Popular Chinese Young Actors 2024 

Fame is not rocket science. In a highly competitive industry such as Chinese drama entertainment, it takes years for a performer to become a household name and join an elite circle of A-celebrities. 

However, it only takes one popular drama to seal their fate into stardom. Right timing, a good script, and a great production team can make someone an overnight sensation. 

For example, it took nine years for Cheng Yi (he debuted in acting in 2011) to become ultra-popular via Love and Redemption in 2020. Xiao Zhan only took three years (he debuted in acting in 2016) to rise to fame via The Untamed in 2019. 

But Dylan Wang instantly became a household name in his drama debut in the Chinese adaptation of Meteor Garden (2018), probably because he portrayed an iconic role that was already a legend in Asia, Dao Mingsi (popularized by Jerry Yan in Meteor Garden 2001).

So the secret to success and fame can't be measured by the length of time the actors stayed in the industry, but in getting the right project and portraying a role that has a massive impact on viewers. 

Here's the list of the most promising male leads in C-drama that we want to become A-listers soon. 

Who among these rising male stars will be the next big thing in Chinese drama? 

These actors are already well-known for portraying main male lead roles for years but we want to see them "explode" in popularity and dominate the popularity rankings. 

We arranged them based on the date of their acting debut:

1. Guo Junchen - born on October 1, 1997, Guo Junchen or Fiction Guo made his acting debut in the body-swapping drama, Go Princess Go aired in December 2015. It was massively popular in China and Guo Junchen instantly earned recognition for his portrayal of the eccentric Yang Yan.

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Guo Junchen in Beauty of Resilience (2023)

He obtained a Performing Arts degree from the Beijing Film Academy in 2019. You can check his best series in the main role:

  • Accidentally In Love (2018)
  • Growing Pain Season 1 (2019)
  • The Life of a White Fox (2019)
  • Meeting You (2020)
  • Bailing Tan (2021)
  • Growing Pain Season 2 (2022)
  • Never Grow Old (2022)
  • Beauty of Resilience (2023)
Upcoming series: 
  • Zong Ran (modern romance drama) - main role
  • Fox Spirit Matchmaker: Wang Quan (costume) - support role 

2. Joseph Zeng - born on October 9, 1997, Joseph Zeng, or Zeng Shunxi debuted in the entertainment industry in 2014 as a member of the C-pop boy band, Fresh Geeks Youth. 

He left the group in 2016 to concentrate on acting. He made his drama debut in the same year via Happy Mitan.

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Joseph Zeng

He rose to fame for playing the happy-go-lucky martial artist wannabe, Tang Tang, in the xianxia drama, Fighter of Destiny (2017). His fame trajectory has steadily risen since then. 

Joseph's best series in the main role:

  • Take My Brother Away (2018)
  • Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber (2019)
  • The Journey Across The Night (2020)
  • Ultimate Note (2020)
  • Heroes (2022)
  • Hi Venus (2022)
  • Mysterious Lotus Casebook (2023)
  • Romance on the Farm (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • A Lonely Hero's Journey (Republican spy drama) - main role
  • Legend of the Rosy Clouds (costume) - main role
  • Snowy Nights (costume) - main role

3. Neo Hou - also known as Hou Minghao, Neo was born on August 3, 1997. He debuted in the entertainment industry in 2014 as a member of the C-pop boy band, Fresh Geeks Youth, with Joseph Zeng. He left the group in 2016 to concentrate on acting.

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Hou Minghao

He made his acting debut in the film, Funny Soccer (2016), and his small screen (series) debut in 2017 via Cambrian Period.

Neo's best series in the main role:

  • Cambrian Period (2017)
  • When We Were Young (2018)
  • The Lost Tomb 2 (2019) with Cheng Yi
  • A Girl Like Me (2021)
  • Our Times (2021) with Wu Lei
  • Back From The Brink (2023)
  • I am Nobody (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • Dashing Youth (costume) - main role
  • Story of Mystique (costume) - main role

4. Song Weilong - born on March 25, 1999, Song Weilong became a contract star of Huanyu Entertainment in 2015 and made his acting debut in Demon Girl season 2 (2016). 

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Song Weilong in Untouchable Lovers (2018)

Due to his dashing looks and gorgeous physical attributes, industry pundits predicted he would become one of the most sought-after male leads in Chinese dramas. 

However, his rise to stardom was stalled when he sued his management, Yu Zheng's Huanyu Entertainment, for contract disputes in 2022, making him unable to close project deals and for several months he was not seen in public attending brand and celebrity events. 

Finally, in 2023, his camp and Yu Zheng's company seemed settled the dispute and his stalled projects were given the go signal to release. Hopefully, he can make a big comeback this year. 

Song Weilong's best series in the main role:

  • Untouchable Lovers (2018) - the script was badly written but Song Weilong delivered a good performance in this drama so it's still worth catching if you want to see him act.
  • Find Yourself (2020)
  • Go Ahead (2020)
  • In a Class of Her Own (2020)
  • A League of Noblemen (2023)
  • The Bionic Life (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • Everlasting Longing (costume) - main role
  • Seven Heart Slips (science-fiction/fantasy) - main role
  • Thousand Fragrances (costume) - main role

5. Arthur Chen - Also known as Chen Fei Yu, Arthur was born on April 9, 2000 in the United States. He is the youngest son of Chinese celebrated filmmaker, Chen Kaige, so Arthur has a hard time creating his own identity as people always associate him to his famous father. 

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Arthur Chen in the upcoming drama, Offering Fish

He actually had a guest role in the historical film directed by his father, Sacrifice (2010), when he was just 10 years old. But his formal acting debut didn't happen until 2017 when he starred in the coming-of-age movie, Secret Fruit (2017) with Taiwanese actress, Ouyang Nana.

Arthur graduated from the Performing Arts department (batch 2023 with Wu Lei) of the Beijing Film Academy. 

He made more movies than series (maybe this is what his father advised him to do - to concentrate on the big screen rather than on the small screen). 

You can catch him up via the following drama in the main role:

  • Ever Night (2018)
  • Legend of Awakening (2020)
  • Lighter and Princess (2022)
Upcoming series:
  • Offering Fish (costume) - main role
  • Immortality (costume) - main role

6. Zhang Wanyi - born on April 22, 1994, Zhang Wanyi graduated from the Performing Arts department of the Beijing Film Academy. He made his acting debut in 2017 in the series, "Tracks in the Snow Forest". 

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Zhang Wanyi

He rose to fame in 2023 when he played the role of Xiyan Cang Yuan in the popular costume drama, Lost You Forever, with Yang Zi.

His best series in the main role:

  • Operation Moscow (2018)
  • The Bond (2021)
  • Lost You Forever (2023)
  • A Long Way Home (2023)
Upcoming Series:
  • The Rise of Ning (costume)
  • Hidden Charm (costume)

7. Lin Yi - He was born on January 11, 1999, and studied Ballroom Dance at the Beijing Sport University. 

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Lin Yi 

Lin Yi did variety shows from 2016 to 2017 before making his formal drama debut in the hit youth drama, Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019) which gave him instant recognition. 

Lin Yi's best series in the main role:

  • Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019)
  • Love Scenery (2021)
  • Memory of Encaustic Tile (2022)
  • Derailment (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • A Tale of Rose ( modern romance) - supporting role 
  • Falling In Love (modern romance) - main role 
  • Angel Falls Sometimes (modern romance) - main role
  • Smile Code (modern romance) - main role

8. Ao Ruipeng - He was born on October 6, 1995, and made his entertainment debut in the variety show, "Dream Space". He landed his first main role in the rom-com drama, Poisoned Love in 2020.

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Ao Ruipeng

His best series in the main role:

  • Poisoned Love (2020)
  • Unusual Idol Love (2021)
  • The Blood of Youth (2022)
  • Love is Written in the Stars (2023)
  • Wrong Carriage, Right Groom (2023)
Upcoming series:

  • Seven Heart Slips (science-fiction/Fantasy) - main role
  • Moonlight Mystique (costume) - main role
9. Zhang Linghe - He was born on December 30, 1997, and studied Electrical Engineering at Nanjing Normal University, one of China's top universities, where he became interested in Physics, making him join the Aerospace Society. 

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Zhang Linghe in Love Between Fairy and Devil

He made his acting debut in 2020 via the drama, Maiden Holmes, the same year he played his main role in Sparkle Love. He rose to popularity in 2022 when he played the second male lead in the xianxia drama, Love Between Fairy and Devil.

Zhang Linghe's best series in the main role:
  • Love Crossed (2021)
  • Flourish in Time (2021)
  • My Journey To You (2023)
  • Story of Kunning Palace (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • The Princess Royal (costume) - main role
  • Reborn For Love (costume) - main role
10. Deng Wei - He was born on February 26, 1995, in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in China. 

He studied dance at the Central Academy of Drama. Deng Wei made his acting debut in 2021 via the costume drama, Miss The Dragon (starring Dylan Wang and Xu Zhudan).

Rising Chinese Actors 2024
Deng Wei

He is one of the fastest-rising actors in China today due to his remarkable acting performance that's so noticeable in all the dramas he starred in. He has yet to star in his first main male lead role.

Deng Wei's best acting performances in the support role:
  • Miss The Dragon (2021)
  • I am the Years, You are the Stars (2021)
  • Sassy Beauty (2022)
  • Till the End of the Moon (2023)
  • Lost You Forever (2023)
Upcoming series:
  • Legend of Rosy Clouds (costume) - second male lead role
  • Love of the Divine Tree (costume) - his first main male lead role

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