Pearl Ing, or Yin Mingzhu, was the first woman to play the leading role in a film made in Shanghai—the earliest center of Chinese filmmaking. Ing’s original name was Shangxian. Like most children born into upper-middle class families, she also had another name, Longguan. Later, she adopted the name “Pearl” in English, or “Mingzhu” in Chinese (J. Chen 59). Her father died when she was a child, but left her and her mother a lottery ticket that won the grand prize. This windfall allowed Pearl’s mother to move the family to Shanghai, where she went to the prestigious McTyeire School for Girls. As a top student there, Ing learned new ideas and manners. She was good at dancing, swimming, singing, bicycling, driving, and horseback riding (Zheng 15).
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