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Fri, Mar 16, 2012
The New Paper
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She's not ditching soap operas, but...
by Tan Kee Yun

Hokkien television soap operas gave her the big break she needed in showbiz, making her a favourite among housewives and heartlanders.

But after more than seven years of dishing out melodrama - and playing the scheming villain on more than one occasion - Taiwanese actress Chiang Tsu-ping is the one who needs a break.

After all, she admits she has "grown very tired" of the long-running serial format.

In an interview with The New Paper, the 34-year-old said: "I've been doing it for so long... After a while, it feels like all my emotions have been emptied out.

"It's not that I'm ditching soap operas for good, I just need to take a different route to keep things fresh."

Chiang - best known to local audiences as the ruthless, back-stabbing Xie Mingming in popular 787-episode Hokkien drama Love - was in town last month to promote upcoming local action film Imperfect.

Imperfect, which co-stars local veteran actor LiNanxing and teenage sensations Ian Fang and Edwin Goh, sees her playing Li's estranged lover and the mother of a rebellious youth (Goh).

Slated for release in the last quarter of this year, the film also marks one of three new projects Chiang has taken on lately - none of which is a Hokkien soap.

She is concurrently filming a Taiwanese cop drama, Independent Heroes, and a mainland Chinese television series, Story of the Maternal Home III.

Both are Mandarin-speaking productions, a huge relief for the actress.

As it turns out, when she took on her first Hokkien-speaking role in Farewell Ah Lang back in 2003, she was hardly proficient in the dialect.

"Initially, I really resisted (doing Hokkien soaps), as I kept worrying whether my inability to speak Hokkien will be a burden to the rest of the cast, or whether I'd delay the whole filming process," she recalled.

"I had to memorise my lines diligently... Soon, with practice, I got the hang of it."

New challenges ahead

While she relishes the new challenges ahead, local fans of Chiang can still catch her last two Hokkien soap operas on television.

In A Place Called Home, currently airing on VV Drama (StarHub Ch 855) on weekdays at 6.15pm, she plays an evil mistress-turned-homewrecker.

And in Night Market Life (Channel 8, weekends at 7pm), she shows her kind-hearted side as a tomboyish boss of a credit investigation company.

When it comes to acting in films, Chiang feels "almost like a rookie".

"I did a couple of movies when I first started out in entertainment, but that was so long ago (in the late 90s) and the whole film industry has since changed," she said.

"Doing movies and television soaps are totally different. Acting in soaps resembles acting on stage; there are lots of close-ups, so one's expression has to be dramatic to the point of being slightly exaggerated.

"In movies, however, it's important to be natural and realistic."

She referred to her co-star, Li, as "a big brother" and added readily that "sparks definitely flew" between them - on screen, that is.

"As my character, of course I was mesmerised by Nanxing. He is a good combination of masculinity and gentleness," she said with a laugh.

"We had only two days of filming together and our very first scene as a couple was a heartrending reunion after spending 17 years apart... It would be hard to execute such an emotional scene if we didn't share chemistry.

"But in real life, no! I wasn't charmed by him!"

This article was first published in The New Paper.



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