Jane Zhang refused to accept her two MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA), as well as participate in any related activities, after being told that she would not be allowed to accept her award on stage and would have to settle for receiving it backstage.
October 25 saw the announcement of this year’s MTV EMA winners at a ceremony in Milan, Italy. Though focused primarily on Europe, the EMAs also aim to celebrate artists from each continent with regional and worldwide awards. This year, Jane was nominated for “Best Asian Act” (officially known as “Worldwide Act: Asia”) and “Best Chinese & Hong Kong Act,” both of which she ended up winning.
Originally, Jane planned to thank her fans for their overwhelming support (since the EMAs are decided by fan votes) when she went on stage to accept her awards. However, less than two hours before she was to appear on the red carpet, MTV notified her team and said that because not all of the winners from the other continents were present, Jane and the other Worldwide Act winners would have to accept their awards backstage.
“We felt this was extremely unfair, not to mention insulting,” said Michael Feng (Feng Ke), Jane’s fiance and CEO of Show City Times, her management company. When he pressed for further information, he was told that because not all of the winners were there, “it wouldn’t look very good” for only a few winners to go on stage.
Michael tried to negotiate, saying that it didn’t make sense for Jane’s appearance to be affected because other artists had failed to show up. However, he was told that receiving the award backstage was the only option and that other artists, such as Justin Bieber, were receiving their Worldwide Act awards backstage as well and hadn’t made a fuss.
“We’ve lost our faith in these awards,” Michael said in an interview later. “When I was talking with [MTV], I was furious. I told them this was a type of disrespect toward Chinese music, toward the numerous fans who had voted, and toward us artists.”
MTV China later issued a statement on Sina Weibo saying that it regretted that the Worldwide Act award winners could only be shown on video. It also stated that Jane and her team’s reaction was understandable and that MTV China was in active talks to win more rights and benefits for Asian artists.
In previous years, Han Geng, Li Yuchun, and Bibi Zhou all won MTV EMAs for “Best Worldwide Act” (before the award was split by continent). All three were allowed to go on stage to accept their awards.