Godfrey Gao, a Taiwanese-Canadian model and actor, has died after collapsing on a television set in China.
Gao, 35, was filming the Chinese reality TV series Chase Me, a competition show in which contestants face off on a variety of physical challenges, when he fainted and later died of an apparent heart attack, the Associated Press reports.
JetStar Entertainment, Gao’s agency, confirmed the actor’s death in a statement posted on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. According to the agency, Godfrey collapsed during filming early Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, following three hours of medical rescue efforts, he left us. We are shocked and saddened and even until now find it impossible to accept,” read the statement, according to a translation from WWD.
An additional statement from the Chase Me producers said medical professionals treated Gao as soon as he collapsed, and that the actor was then rushed to the hospital. “We feel extremely distressed and extremely sad,” the producers said in a statement, CNN reports.
Born in Taiwan, Gao grew up in Vancouver, Canada. He moved back to Asia at the start of his modeling career; his breakout came in 2011 as the first Asian male model to feature in a Louis Vuitton advertising campaign. Alongside his modeling, Gao then developed a successful television career in Taiwan and China, and became known throughout Asia for his roles in shows like Remembering Lichuan, God of War Zhao Yun, Never Give Up Dodo and Momo Love.
He also starred in the 2013 movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and the 2019 movie Shanghai Fortress.
Gao’s death was mourned across social media on Wednesday by fans and fellow performers. The actor Yoshi Sudarso tweeted that Gao had broken barriers for the representation of Asian men onscreen.
Though it is usually protocol for reality TV productions to provide regular medical check-ups for participants, the specifics of Chase Me‘s care on-set — or the specific state of Gao’s health — are unclear. The South China Morning Post reports that many of Gao’s fans discussed their concerns about the physical demands shows like Chase Me place on contestants.
The highly physical aspects of some reality competition shows have had adverse effects on contestants before. In 2013, Gerald Babin, a contestant on the French version of Survivor, died of a heart attack after filming a challenge on the show. His death prompted several questions about the way he’d been treated on the show, and a criminal investigation into the show’s producer and host.
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