Dongguan’s hall of fame

Zac hall left the U.S. For Guangzhou and now resides in Dongguan. Like many expats, he embraced a career in teaching. Little did he know that two years into his career, he would end up as a celebrity in China.

It was back in 2010 that Zac Hall ventured to Guangzhou to teach university students English. He certainly did not anticipate becoming an online sensation and TV star almost two years later.

Zac was passionate about becoming a teacher back then, admitting that it was actually one of his dreams a while ago to move and teach in Asia, explaining that for him, China has been about fulfilling dreams as they come. What an inspiring message. Perhaps China is the land of making your dreams come true for many of us, however small or big those might be. Anyway, Zac is also very musically talented. From being the lead singer of a band in the US to passing first auditions for American Idol, to starting his band known as “Gun!” in 2014; disregarding chronology, his musical talent went humbly beyond that when in 2012 his music went viral after one of his students recorded and uploaded a video of him singing and playing guitar in one of his breaks at university, performing four covers of very popular songs. These were the super famous classics such as “Its’ My Life” by Bon Jovi, “Hotel California” by the Eagles and Chinese songs, “Si le dou yao ai” and “Hai kuo tian kong.” Zac believes it was the Cantonese favorite that led to so much interest. He commented, “I remember seeing the views on 56.com that day and thinking it was so cool that I had 4,000 views. Then, after looking again that night, the number of views had gone up. It’s funny looking back, my friend told me I was going to be famous that first night and I laughed and commented skeptically. The next day it all hit off and it was crazy how quickly those views increased. Within a week I had 1 million views on that video.”

Zac explained, “Back then I was also playing a few gigs at bars in Guangzhou, and it was fun but I don’t drink much and being in that kind of environment all the time became tiring.” However, after the video went viral, he realized that his music could be something more. It became his next dream to pursue music and therefore he quit teaching.

After going viral, he certainly had his “15 minutes of fame” as Zac called it. This was the period in which he felt like a true star at his peak of celebrity lifestyle in the south of China. “I had nine different media companies contact me, from newspapers to social media, wanting to interview me and see me perform. I was doing all this and starring on TV shows between 2012 and 2014. It all happened so fast and it was very intense at the time. Things have definitely calmed down a lot since then.”

The inception of his band “Gun!” in 2014 led to more online recognition when in 2015 a video of the band’s performance was uploaded by a former student of Zac’s, a performance of “Guang hui sui yue,” and went viral six times on Weibo with a total of 25 million views, and 1 million views on YouTube. Impressive! Following this, they earned themselves first place in Guangzhou’s Hooleys Battle of the Bands in 2017 and starred on Guangzhou TV several times, including the New Year’s program as well as a game show about people’s dreams, where the band asked to be signed by someone who could offer them a contract deal. In the end they rejected the contract for their own reasons but still, they continued to play music.

The next day it all hit off and it was crazy how quickly those views increased. Within a week I had 1 million views on that video.

An interesting twist to this story of glory is that now Zac plans to return to teaching in September this year. “I always wanted to teach history actually since I was young, that was another dream of mine,” he told me, smiling. This man has many aspirations and continues to achieve them! It was clear however, that he misses the high point of his showbiz career. Excitingly, he will marry his fiancé this summer back in the US and naturally, that means requiring stability. “Going back into teaching Monday to Friday is ideal as it will provide the stability and income that we need. This time I will be teaching History which I know I will enjoy.” Zac also revealed his concerns about his gigs typically being in the week. He still hopes to be able to maintain his celeb lifestyle to a point, between teaching. But returning to a stable job seems the smart way forward if you ask me. And sometimes you have to go backward to move forward, right?