CBU Alumni Standing on Both Sides of the Camera

For Ziyin Zheng, pursuing a career in the film industry can be connected back to their time at Cape Breton University. Ziyin came to CBU from the other side of the world. Originally from Shanghai, China, Ziyin graduated with a Masters in Business Administration, Community Economic Development in 2017 and they credit Cape Breton Island as the place where they were truly able to be themself. “CBU is a school that has such a friendly atmosphere,” says Ziyin. “I was able to meet new people and focus on what made me happy, all while learning valuable skills and information.”

After moving to Cape Breton, the slower-paced life allowed Ziyin (or Adrian as they sometimes go by in Canada) to explore their passions. With a deep love for the arts, including singing and acting, they had never had a chance to dive deep into what made them happy before coming to Cape Breton.

After a chance meeting with film director, Ashley McKenzie, Ziyin helped create the character from her film – Queens of the Qing Dynasty. When it came time to cast the part, Ashley had to look no further than Ziyin.

Queens of the Qing Dynasty is a film set in a remote small town, not dissimilar to Cape Breton. Star (Sarah Walker), a neurodiverse teen, forms an unlikely rapport with An (Ziyin Zheng), an international student from Shanghai volunteering at the hospital. A bond forms and their friendship evolves and profoundly changes both characters.

Since the film was launched, it has been around the world at more than 15 film festivals in nine countries and has made waves in the independent film industry.

In addition to Ziyin, six more CBU Alumni were involved in the film on both sides of the camera. Brit Kerr was producer of the film, Yao Xue plays the part of Violet, Wei Zhao plays one of An’s roommates, Yi Suo plays another one of An’s roommates, Rony Robson plays an OR Nurse in the film and Nidhin KH plays An’s boyfriend.

The film, screened at Cape Breton University in April 2023 is a testament to the talent our alumni hold and the incredible art they are able to produce. To learn more and to find out where to watch, visit www.queensoftheqingdynasty.com