The transcript below is from the video “The Untold Story Of Jet Li’s Younger Daughters” by Nicki Swift.
Education at six months old, following in dad’s footsteps, and… surviving tsunamis?! From bold to brash, Jet Li’s youngest daughters are finding their own path in the spotlight.
Actor Jet Li has four daughters from two separate marriages.
“Why I only saw two?”
“Right, right.” “I only saw two!”
While his oldest girls Si Li and Taimi Li keep themselves out of the spotlight, his younger daughters from his latest marriage are more in the public eye.
After breaking things off with his first wife, Huang Qiuyan , Li moved state-side to expand his career. It was then when he fell hard for his costar Nina Li Chi while filming “Dragon Fight.” When asked about their relationship, Li recalled to Mingpao:
“After meeting Nina, I knew for sure it was love, such love that I would have abandoned fame and fortune for her and die for her. Every day is full of passion.”
The couple got married and welcomed two daughters together. Jane Li was born in 2000, and her sister Jada Li was born two years later. While Li’s career winds down and his daughters start stepping into the limelight – we’re learning a bit more about how Li’s younger daughters were really raised.
Plenty of parents start their children’s educational journey early, but cracking the books while your tot is still in diapers? Well, that’s sort of how it was for Jet Li’s daughters. Their mother employed an early learning specialist to get her kids to the top of their class at just six and nine months old.
Following an early jump in academics, the girls’ father gave up his American citizenship to become a citizen of Singapore. That way, his daughters could receive an education there instead of in America.
The famous actor explained his move to an interviewer at the Shanghai International Film Festival. He looked at the educational systems of a few other countries, namely Switzerland and Australia, but ultimately he went with Singapore.
Making the decision meant the girls could get the highest quality of education while he could get work easily and without worry. Following roughly a decade of Singaporean studies, Jane Li returned to the U.S. setting her sights on the very best of the best for her college studies.
Jane was accepted to Yale and Princeton before choosing Harvard University to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree. The youngest child, Jada Li, wasn’t far behind and went on to study at Barnard College.
According to The Straits Times, when Jane Li was 19 years old, the Harvard alum received a prestigious invite like no other. She was asked to participate in the Les Bal des Débutantes along with 19 other lucky young ladies. The event is arguably the highest profile debutante ball in the entire world. It exclusively draws young ladies whose parents are the most elite in their respective fields of entertainment, business, or politics.
Per Tatler, Jane graced the 2019 edition of the annual event wearing a square-necked crimson Dior gown with a cape. As reported by Mothership, Jane had a stacked schedule at the time of the event. On top of earning top marks, she’d also assumed a position as outreach chair of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Association, and served on the board of the First Year Social Committee at Harvard.
It could have been an intense scene from one of her father’s many action thrillers, but it wasn’t. In 2004, Jane Li was vacationing with her famous family in the Maldives when she experienced a terrifying natural disaster and a near-death experience.
When Jane and her sister Jada were still toddlers, their father Jet Li and the family nanny were swimming with them when a tsunami ravaged the landscape.
Four-year-old Jane was nearly swept out to sea, but her heroic father saved her life, pulling her onto his shoulders and keeping her head above the water.
Jada, meanwhile, was saved by the nanny. Of the near-death experience, Jane told South China Morning Post:
“I remember that there was water up to my eyes, and I thought, ‘This is it, I’m going to die.’ I was submerged for five or ten seconds.”
The family survived and the near-death experience shaped all their futures.
After experiencing the potential loss of his family, Jet founded One Foundation – an organization that his two daughters have reportedly supported.
Per The Straits Times, Jane has devoted some of her time to supporting the charity’s inner workings, as well as interning at the United Nations and advocating for awareness and issues specific to her Asian roots.
“It means the world for me to see him so supportive of like women and girls.”
Meanwhile, Jada has likewise lent her time and energy to One Foundation while also attending philanthropy conferences with her father.
Millions of people around the globe experience anxiety and depression. Regardless of your wealth and status, mental illness does not discriminate — a fact that Jada Li knows all too well.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jada Li saw her mental health decline. Instead of keeping it under wraps, she opened up about her experiences with her followers. Sharing a set of lighthearted selfies on Instagram, she shared her own mental health history while revealing she had been undergoing a relapse, writing:
“I want to use this space to let you all know that if you’re experiencing anything similar, you’re not alone. Mental issues like COVID-19 anxiety are real and valid.”
She continued on, reminding her followers to seek out resources and help sites for support and to check in on loved ones. Offering hope to others, she added:
“I believe in your strength and your ability to get through this.”
Jet Li had stepped back from Hollywood for over a decade when he was approached to star in the live-action rendition of “Mulan.” He wasn’t initially keen on the prospect until his then 15-year-old daughter, Jada Li, asked him three questions.
“Mulan is a well-known story in China.”
“In the beginning I didn’t want to take the movie, the part, because it’s hard to make a movie fresh.”
In an interview with Extra Butter, Jet explained that his youngest child made him take pause, reflect, and ultimately agree to appear in the movie. First, Jada asked if her father was proud to promote Chinese culture and if this project promoted their shared beliefs.
He answered yes. Second, she asked if he needed the money. No, he replied. Lastly, Jada asked her famous father if he would make the movie for her — he couldn’t say no.
While agreeing to the film was easy thanks to his daughter, the filming process proved far more difficult for the seasoned professional. Per Yahoo! Life, Jet struggled with the heavy and ill-fitting costumes and the dialogue required for the role, explaining:
“Making English-speaking movies is not easy for me. I’m very lazy at learning English. Well, any foreign language. So, that’s why I appreciated my dialogue coach, who worked with me to help me with my lines.”
In the end, the martial arts legend contributed his genius to a film that he and his daughter could be proud of.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
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