updated 27 Mar 2013, 21:36
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Wed, Jul 20, 2011
The New Paper
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We get skin deep with Tang Wei
by Joanne Soh

What was it like to work with Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro in the high-profile epic actioner Wu Xia opening here on Thursday?

Were you shocked to find out all your scenes were cut from the final print of Mao Zedong historical drama The Founding Of A Party?

Well, we'll never know.

Chinese actress Tang Wei, who was in town last Friday as Japanese cosmetics company SK-II's latest brand ambassador, never addressed these questions.

Rather, we never had the opportunity to ask her.

Please stick to beauty questions as this is a beauty event, the public relations people politely informed the media.

Please do not ask personal questions or anything about Lust, Caution, her controversial 2007 espionage thriller.

But do ask her about the film awards she has won.

As if from a nagging mother, these "reminders" were trotted out repeatedly.

Sure, we can ask about her film awards.

But wait a minute, didn't the 31-year-old receive most of her accolades - including winning best new performer awards at the Cannes Film Festival and Golden Horse Awards in 2008 - for her stunning breakout performance in Lust, Caution?

What an irony.


Tang Wei uses the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. It contains Pitera, a natural bio-ingredient that activates skin cell renewal, and enhances the skin's five dimensions - texture, radiance, firmness, spot control and wrinkle resilience. -AsiaOne

You see, Tang Wei's debut in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution saw her play a traitor, which didn't go down well with the powers that be in her native country.

The Chinese film authorities slapped a two-year ban on the starlet, which resulted in her absence from the big screen.

She made a quiet comeback with the romance Crossing Hennessy last year.

But almost too soon, Tang Wei found herself making headlines for the wrong reasons when her scenes in the star-studded The Founding Of A Party ended up on the cutting room floor.

She was deemed "politically unsuitable" for the part of Chairman Mao's first lover, Chinese media reported.

Food, caution

We'll never know if she feels misunderstood by her countrymen, as the SK-II event dictated that everything its new spokesmodel revealed would be only skin deep.

For instance, Tang Wei declared she's an avid believer in exercise, as "beauty stems from within".

She also likes simple and light food such as congee and soups, and she steers clear of fried food.

But she likes fatty meats as they are good for the skin.

The self-professed tomboy also never liked to look at herself in the mirror, applied make-up or dress up.

She also called herself "lazy" and not one to like using multiple beauty products.

All this changed after she saw how her skin became more luminous due to SK-II's best-selling Facial Treatment Essence, which she started using last year when she was filming Wu Xia in Yunnan, China. "The weather is very dry in Yunnan because of the high altitude," said Tang in fluent English.

"After using SK-II, I noticed my skin has changed forthe better and now, I like looking at myself in the mirror."

Spoken like a true brand ambassador.

Perhaps Tang Wei recognised what pays her bills, and so cleverly steered her answers back to the purpose of the visit whenever a career-related question arose.

When the event's emcee, former actress-host Evelyn Tan, asked about Tang Wei's experience on Wu Xia, where she plays Yen's wife and mother of two young boys, the latter replied that she fell in love with the five-year-old actor who played her youngest son because "he has the most natural and beautiful eyes and he inspired me to be genuine in front of the camera, which also meant I need to look my best".

So is playing a virtuous housewife indicative of the kind of role you're looking at now, this reporter finally managed to ask.

"Yes, this is a role I've been waiting to play for a very long time. I like to play a mother. It was good hands-on practise for me to prepare me for the future."

So are you looking forward to becoming a mother, ventured another reporter quickly.

"Yes, definitely. I had set myself a goal to be a mother by 30 because I want to be a pretty mama."

All too soon, before we could ask Tang Wei to clarify her comment, since she has passed that age, her answers went back to her No. 1 fear (dry skin) and her gratitude to "miracle water" - no thanks to another "gentle reminder" to stick to beauty questions only.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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