updated 12 Nov 2011, 06:59
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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
The New Paper
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I won't tell daughter I’m an actress
by Tan kee Yun

HAS the famously private Vicki Zhao loosened her lips on her personal life?

Last month, the Chinese actress-singer surprised her nearly six million Sina Weibo (China's equivalent of Twitter) followers, when she posted a picture of herself and her husband - Wuhan property tycoon Huang Youlong - on her official microblog.

It showed the couple, who registered their marriage in Singapore in 2008, celebrating Zhao's 35th birthday - complete with huge cake, candle and Huang's arm draped around his wife's shoulders.

This was a far cry from Zhao's normal behaviour.

The actress, most recently seen in martial arts epics RedCliff and Mulan, has always kept a low profile away from the silver screen.

Last April, after giving birth to a baby girl at Gleneagles Hospital, she refused to give any interviews to local media. Likewise, husband Huang clammed up when approached by reporters.

Both Zhao and Huang are Singapore permanent residents.

But don't get your hopes up for a more accessible Zhao. As she explained in an interview with video news site three weeks ago, contrary to speculation in the Chinese press, she was not turning "high-profile" for good.

"It's just that the power of Weibo is so overwhelming and far-reaching," said Zhao.

"I wasn't deliberately grabbing attention. Besides, that picture of us showed a very ordinary and simple part of my life, I really didn't mind (sharing it)."

True to form, there was none of that candour on display when she met reporters on Saturday afternoon at Serangoon Central's nex shopping mall.

The reserved, tight-lipped Vicki Zhao was back.

She was in town as wellness centre Mary Chia's brand ambassador to officiate a Guinness World Record Challenge event for the largest number of people wearing facial masks.

(For the record, 859 participants took part, successfully breaking the previous record of 828 held by a Taiwanese cosmetics company.)


Zhao kept her shades on most of the time and became evasive when reporters asked about her family.

"If possible, I try not to let them (referring to Huang and their one-year-old daughter) get photographed," she said.

"They are just normal folk, not celebrities."

She kept stressing that she keeps her work and personal life strictly separate, to the point that she does not even intend to let her daughter know that "mummy is an actress".

"So far, none of my family members likes asking me about my career," said Zhao.

"I guess I don't have to tell my daughter what I do... I'll leave that task to others."

She wasn't quite so evasive when the interview drifted to recent online comments about her appearance.

On Friday, according to entertainment portal, unflattering publicity photos of Zhao were leaked onto the Internet.

These photos reportedly showed her looking haggard with "wrinkles and crow's feet", prompting merciless netizens to lament that "time and tide wait for no man" and how "Little Swallow (Zhao's nickname from her role in the TV series My Fair Princess) has aged".

"Those photos were unflattering due to the lighting condition on the day of the shoot," explained Zhao.

"The camera flash was too bright and harsh...I wasn't haggard."

She'll soon get a chance to get a firsthand taste of action behind the camera, when she directs her as-yet-untitled first movie in the later half of the year.

"I'm writing the script now, and filming will start in October," said Zhao, who said she intends to submit it as part of her final-year project for her postgraduate film-making degree at the Beijing Film Academy.

But don't count on Zhao to be anything like the chatty characters she plays on screen.

"Very often, when I'm acting, I have to use up a lot of energy - it's pretty tiring," said Zhao.

"So, whenever I have time to relax on set, I usually choose not to talk."

Hopefully, for the sake of her actors, director Zhao won't be as quiet when she goes behind the camera.


This article was first published in The New Paper.


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