The Life and Career of William Gao: Age, Height, Ethnicity, Dating

April 18, 2024
9 mins read

Accomplished English actor and musician William Gao, has garnered international acclaim for his compelling portrayal of Tao Xu in the LGBTQ+ Netflix series “Heartstopper,” winning the hearts of audiences worldwide. His performance not only secured a dedicated following globally, but also earned him nominations from esteemed award-giving bodies, marking him as a rising star in the entertainment industry. Beyond acting, William has ventured into the realm of music as one half of the duo Wasia Project. The duo made a significant mark on the music scene in 2022, by releasing their debut jazz EP, “How Can I Pretend.”

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Early Life, Education, and Family

William Gao Hardy was born on 20 February 2003, in South Croydon, England, to a Chinese mother and an English father. Growing up in a household with mixed heritage, alongside his siblings including younger sister, Olivia Hardy, played a pivotal role in shaping his unique perspective on life.

His journey into the world of music began at an early age, when at four years old, he started learning to play the piano—a skill imparted by his Chinese mother. Reflecting on his early musical education, William humorously shared, ‘I learned piano from the age of four, like all good Chinese kids, and my sister the violin.’ This early exposure laid the foundation for his future endeavors as an artist.

In line with a common cultural practice in many Chinese and Asian households, William’s parents encouraged him to embrace musical education not only for its potential in enhancing cognitive development and discipline but also as a valuable skill associated with cultural refinement. At the age of 11, William embarked on formal training in classical piano, and became a member of the renowned Trinity Boys Choir. His dedication to music was evident, when during the school year of 2018-2019, he emerged as one of the finalists in the selection for the Trinity-Steinway Scholarship.

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Continuing his academic journey, William pursued his Sixth Form education at Trinity School, specializing in Music, Drama, and Chinese for his A-Levels. While he developed a proficiency in Mandarin sufficient for survival in China, he humbly does not consider himself fully fluent. William’s early exposure to diverse cultural influences and his commitment to artistic pursuits during his formative years laid a solid foundation for the multifaceted artist he would later become.

Growing up as a British-Asian in London was a unique experience for William; his mother moved from China to the UK in her 20s, resulting in him being raised in a traditional Chinese setting. However, he attended a very traditional English school, which made him feel somewhat of an outsider, and left him with a sense of not belonging. It wasn’t until his late teens that he embraced his uniqueness, and proudly celebrated his mixed heritage.

Acting Career

The allure of acting ensnared William after his enrollment into the National Youth Theatre in May 2019. His journey included notable performances in theater productions such as “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Glyndebourne Opera, and “Shakespeare 400” at the Royal Festival Hall. These experiences onstage ignited a passion for performing that led him to believe his future lay in the world of theater, however, fate had a different plan for William. Amidst his theatrical pursuits, an unforeseen opportunity materialized, propelling him into the realm of screen acting. The unexpected venture into on-screen performances marked a pivotal shift in his career trajectory, expanding the horizons of his artistic journey beyond the stage.

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Audition and Casting for “Heartstopper”

In a revealing interview, William disclosed, ‘I’ve never done screen before, and I thought this was an opportunity of a lifetime, something I never thought was possible.’ The actor expressed his surprise upon discovering a casting call specifically seeking a “British East Asian actor” for a new drama series. Seeking guidance, he consulted with seasoned East Asian actors in his theatre community, only to find that such opportunities were unprecedented.

The casting call was for a television adaptation of a graphic novel and web comic series, both entitled “Heartstopper,” penned by Alice Oseman. The character requirements were explicit, emphasizing diversity, and the producers were meticulous in their pursuit of a genuinely diverse cast. William realized that the production team was committed to assembling a cast that reflected the diverse range of characters in the source material.

In June 2021, the exciting news broke that William had secured a role in the TV series – Trinity, his former school, proudly announced the casting on their official website. Notably, the casting call had attracted approximately 10,000 participants during the open auditioning process, orchestrated under the guidance of casting director Daniel Edwards. William’s journey to becoming a part of the TV series had officially begun, marking a pivotal moment in his burgeoning career.

He recalled, ‘I remember my mum cried, my dad was shocked, and my siblings were really happy.’ While everything felt surreal for him, his sister, Olivia, who was 15 at the time, had previously expressed a premonition. She’d confided in him earlier, stating that she could sense William would become part of a Netflix series, predicting something significant in 2021. Consequently, when they learned about him securing the role, she wasn’t surprised, having anticipated the turn of events.

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Debut and Breakthrough

Not every actor is bestowed with the same stroke of luck and opportunity as William Gao, whose role as Tao Xu in “Heartstopper” not only marked his debut but also catapulted him into the spotlight. The series, a poignant coming-of-age tale centered around the love story of two boys, Nick and Charlie, unfolded a narrative in which Tao Xu, despite differing sexual orientations, fiercely protected his best friend, Charlie.

Released in April 2022, the series swiftly climbed Netflix’s British viewing charts, securing seventh spot, eventually claiming fifth position, and by May 2022, “Heartstopper” triumphantly joined the ranks of the top 10 most-viewed Netflix series in over 50 countries. The show evolved into a cultural phenomenon, resonating with audiences worldwide, and propelling William Gao into the global spotlight.

Navigating Success and Embracing Fame

Following the explosive success of “Heartstopper,” William’s life embarked on an exhilarating journey; balancing newfound fame with personal and creative pursuits became a challenge. The series garnered acclaim, earning the young actor an Outstanding Supporting Performance nomination from the Children’s and Family Emmy Awards. Offers from casting directors poured in, accompanied by invitations to prestigious international events including Paris Fashion Week.

William surprisingly, found himself at the center of a social media discourse regarding his character’s hairstyle in the drama series. Maintaining a lighthearted response, he described it as bold and brave. In the face of intense attention, he adopts an approach centered on spending time alone, creating music, and staying grounded amidst the whirlwind of opportunities that fame has brought his way.

Evolution in William’s Acting Journey

As the second season of “Heartstopper” unfolded in August 2023, William’s foray into his debut character, Tao Xu, took on added layers of complexity, providing a platform for the evolution of his acting skills. The character, facing loss and navigating the challenges of adolescence, allowed William to delve deeper into the nuances of his craft. Encouraged by the novel’s author, Alice Osman, to infuse his own interpretation into the character and break free from the confines of the source material, William brought a profound depth to Tao Xu’s persona.

William’s portrayal skillfully conveyed both the vulnerability and defensive demeanor of Tao, making his storyline not only a poignant narrative but also one that resonated with audiences. Through his nuanced performance, William demonstrated a capacity to breathe life into the character, elevating the overall impact of Tao Xu’s journey onscreen.

Navigating Realities: Tao Xu vs. William Gao

Fans deeply entrenched in the world of “Heartstopper” often find themselves blurring the lines between fiction and reality. William Gao’s authentic portrayal of Tao Xu contributed to this confusion, and some enthusiasts took their sentiments to social media. In interviews, William playfully reminds audiences that he’s merely the actor behind the character.

In a delightful exploration of character nuances, William distinguishes himself from Tao Xu, shedding light on disparities in opinions, approaches to confrontation, and judgment. He candidly shares the admirable traits he sees in Tao, underscoring the significance of honesty, the formation of opinions, and standing resolute. William injects humor into the discussion, speculating on how he would counsel Tao to maintain composure and navigate the challenges of school life in a calmer way.

Return to Theatre

William went back to act in theatre again in another Dawn King’s stage show called “The Trials.” Fans were delighted to learn that he would be alongside “Heartstopper” co-star Joe Locke; the stage play ran from 12 until 27 August 2022. As he continues to embrace opportunities in various artistic realms, his journey is poised for even more significant milestones.

Upcoming movie projects

Backed by a critically-acclaimed performance in his popular Netflix series, movie offers continue to pour in and William continues to explore new horizons, he recently wrapped up shooting two indie movies, “Breakwater” and “Sunrise.” One is a neo-Western thriller and the other one is a psychological horror set in an Oxford college. His commitment to versatility and alternative projects demonstrates his dedication to artistic growth beyond mainstream success.

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Musical Exploration and Wasia Project

Even amidst the whirlwind of acting acclaim, William remains steadfast in his dedication to creating music. In moments of respite, he turns to music as a grounding force, providing an escape from the frenetic pace that fame has ushered into his acting career. Trained in classical music, William’s musical journey took an unexpected turn when he stumbled upon a different genre emanating from a neighboring room at school, sparking a newfound love for jazz. ‘And I walked out, and in the other room, there was some jazz happening.’ He distinctly remembered that a big band was playing, “Fly Me To The Moon”, which was when he realized that he wanted to create a fusion of genres.

Wasia Project Unveiled

William’s musical prowess takes center stage as one half of the jazz duo, Wasia Project, a collaboration with his younger sister, Olivia Hardy. While their musical origins lie in jazz, they seamlessly weave elements of alternative pop into their compositions. Predating William’s breakthrough role in the Netflix series, Wasia Project made its debut with the single “Why Don’t You Love Me” in 2019. It was his first composition, and held much significance, being grateful that he was able to share it with the public. Subsequently, the sibling duo released several non-album singles, including “Petals on the Moon,” “Burning Eyes R Calling,” and “Remember When.”

Original Songwriting and Unreleased Gems

Demonstrating their artistic autonomy, William and Olivia write their own songs, accumulating a collection of unreleased tracks over the years. In 2022, they unveiled their debut EP “How Can I Pretend,” featuring tracks such as “Ur So Pretty” and “Why Don’t U Love Me.” The songs, with profound personal resonance for William, delved into his fears and nightmares, offering listeners a glimpse into his introspective psyche. Each song became a conduit for a reflective process, infusing the project with substantial emotional investment.

A Central Focus on Music

Despite an influx of acting offers, music remains a central focus for William, especially as it often involves collaborating with his sister. The release of their EP, coupled with a distribution deal with AWAL, underscoring Wasia Project’s unwavering commitment to pushing creative boundaries and celebrating their mixed-race heritage through the medium of music.

Sibling Synergy

William openly expresses his profound admiration for Olivia’s talent, highlighting the amazing relationship they share both personally and professionally. The challenges inherent in the entertainment industry necessitated significant sacrifices of time to pursue their dreams. In these demanding moments, the presence of his sister becomes a source of solace, making the journey more manageable and harmonious. William acknowledges the overwhelming nature of balancing acting and music but underscores the pivotal role of equilibrium in sustaining his creative pursuits.

Music Influence

During their formative years, William and Olivia didn’t have much of a choice when it came to music, often finding themselves immersed in their parents’ musical preferences. Despite this, they did manage to enjoy and groove to the tunes that played around them. In response to Rolling Stone Magazine’s inquiry about their musical influences, the duo enthusiastically listed various artists, ranging from contemporary sensations such as Frank Ocean, Billie Eilish, and Boygenius to classics found in their parents’ playlist such as Elton John, ELO, ABBA, and The Beatles.

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In another interview, William specifically highlighted singer-songwriter Jacob Collier as one of his greatest musical influences. This eclectic mix of contemporary and classic influences contributes to the distinctive and diverse sound of the Wasia Project.

Social Media Presence

William Gao boasts a significant influence on Instagram, proudly holding a verified status in belonging to the exclusive club of influencers with more than two million followers. Using the handle @will.gao_, he may not be as prolific as some celebrities in his age group, with only 18 posts, but he utilizes Instagram not only to update fans on his latest projects, but also to provide glimpses into his personal life.

Additionally, he maintains a separate Instagram account dedicated to his music career, @wasiaproject, with a slightly smaller fanbase of just over 250,000 followers. The musical duo also operates a self-titled YouTube channel boasting close to 80,000 subscribers, featuring official music videos and live performances. For fans eager to show their support, an online shop offers merchandise such as shirts and stickers.

Appearance

William stands at 6ft 3ins (190cms) tall, and weighs about 155lbs (70kgs) with a lean physique. He possesses dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.

Net Worth

William Gao’s net worth is estimated to be $500,000, as of January 2024 according to authoritative sources.

Martha Clifford

As an Author at Net Worth Post, I guide a dedicated team in the art of revealing the stories behind the world's most influential personalities. Fueled by a relentless curiosity and a knack for uncovering hidden stories, I immerse myself in the intricacies of our subjects' lives, weaving together accurate data and compelling narratives. My involvement spans the entire editorial process, from the seed of research to the final flourish of publication, ensuring that every article not only educates but also captivates and motivates our audience.

At Net Worth Post, we are committed to providing thorough investigations into the net worth and life achievements of innovators across diverse sectors such as technology, culture, and social entrepreneurship. My method merges meticulous research with eloquent storytelling, designed to bridge the gap between our readers and the remarkable individuals who redefine our tomorrow. Through spotlighting their journeys to success, the hurdles they've surmounted, and their contributions to society, we aim to give our readers a deep and inspiring insight into the luminaries who are paving the way for progress and ingenuity in the modern era.

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