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Born in the city of Nanjing on the Eastern coast of China, young actress Ni Ni shot to international fame when she was cast in the co-starring role of Yu Mo, opposite British actor Christian Bale, in Zhang Yimou's historical epic "The Flowers of War." After excelling in swimming and dance and studying language and communications at Communication University of China, Ni's life took a dramatic turn when, at the age of 22, she was discovered by Zhang, who sought a local woman to embody Yu Mo, a young Nanjing prostitute in his film set during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Ni, whose identity was kept a secret from the press during the filming process, was unveiled as the director's latest find--or ''Mou Girl''--shortly before "The Flowers of War" was released in December of 2011. The director's lengthy search proved justified when Ni was an overnight success, receiving rave reviews for her portrayal and earning a nomination for Best Newcomer at the Asian Film Awards. The film itself was also honored by being selected as the Chinese entry for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.