Meng Fei (Chinese: 孟非), an anchorman from Jiangsu Satellite Television Station, has gained fame nationwide, if not worldwide, since his hosting of the popular blind dates reality show – “If You Are the One,” which has expanded its audience from China to Australia and the United States.
Born in 1971 in Chongqing, Meng moved to Nanjing, Jiangsu Province with his family when he was 12. Good at Chinese but slow in science, Meng failed in the decisive National College Entrance Exam (Gaokao), which led to a low point in his life.
Having been denied by many high schools of his requests in preparing for another year, Meng found he was left with little opportunities to continue his education. He traveled south to Shenzhen, a newly transformed economic hub during the country’s opening up, in hope of building his career there. Against his high hopes, he could only find a job as a temporarily hired carrier, a strenuous labor Meng sustained for merely a month.
Following his disappointment in Shenzhen, Meng went back to Nanjing and found himself a job in a printing house – another heavy labor, requiring workers to keep awake for three continuous days and rest in no more than an hour for each interval after 10 working hours. While putting up with the low pay and harsh scolding, Meng came to realize education was the only way to get out from the bottom. He studied in his spare time and enrolled in Continuing Study School of Chinese at Nanjing Normal University in 1992.
Meng was exhausted by his weekend studies and long hours at work – one that required a high level of alertness. While carrying newspaper off the assembly line one day, his arm was caught by the machine. The machine was stopped in time and he was able to save his arm, but not his job.
Meng subsequently floated between temporary jobs – a mineral water carrier, an ad salesman and a security guard. He even tried to open a convenience store. Eventually, he settled down working as a receptionist for a sport team in Jiangsu Television Station.
After graduating in July, 1994, Meng challenged himself to become a journalist at the TV station. Having socialized with the reporters during daily chores as a receptionist, he obtained the basic journalistic skill set through talks and observation. A year later, he was able to assist in producing news programs. Consequently, he was promoted to reporter. He worked extremely hard –interviewing, writing, editing and dubbing – often overnight. In 1995, Meng joined the team of an in-depth news program called “City Fax” and started his career in the social beat. With sound writing skills, he worked both as a reporter and an editor, and the dual roles almost quadrupled his salary.
He rose to prominence in 2002 when Jiangsu Television Station offered an anchorperson’s vacancy for its revised social news program, “Zero Distance, Nanjing.” The anchorperson was considered key in the ratings of program, targeting at grassroots audience. Meng was right in the competition in terms of his experience and knowledge among candidates, but his appearance – being bald and average-looking – raised doubts in the station leaders. Yet his sense of humor, amicable grassroots manners and quick wits developed from his bitter past outshone his plain looks. Winning an enormous amount of compliments from the audience in his screen debut, Meng became one of the most popular hosts in Nanjing and, later, nationwide. His program’s ratings peaked at 17.7 percent, surpassing CCTV’s prime time news program.
In 2010, Meng’s career reached a pinnacle after he was selected as the host of the dating reality show “If You Are the One,” which became one of the most popular weekend entertainment TV shows. Since June, he has been working with Guo Degang, a well-known cross-talk comedian, and hosting an entertainment program “Extraordinarily Wonderful.”
Although a celebrity, Meng still keeps his grassroots habits, such as visiting vegetable markets and taking the bus to work.