updated 17 Aug 2011, 09:58
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Wed, Aug 17, 2011
The Star/Asia News Network
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Fast track to fame for Christy Yow
by K.R. Ming

IF LIFE is a series of lucky strikes, then 23-year-old Christy Yow Wei Min should thank her lucky stars for her fast-track route into the world of showbiz.

While many of her peers are still deciding what to do after receiving their undergraduate degrees, Yow already has her work and career path cut out for her as South-East Asia’s newest sex symbol.

Her Cinderella moment has been well-documented by the frenzied Singapore press, who can’t seem to get enough of her fresh-faced looks that can be easily transformed into a sultry goddess in front of the lens.

The girl from Ipoh initially left her hometown to work as an air stewardess for Singapore Airlines but didn’t make it past the first round of interviews.

“I was asked to introduce myself. I just said that I am a model and I would like to fly for SIA. Maybe I wasn’t too outspoken, that’s why I failed the first round of interviews,” she says upon reflection in another interview.

But fate had other plans for her. Yow caught the attention of Crocodile International’s former head of corporate communications, Terence Ang.

They first met in 2005; even back then, he believed that she would one day make it big in the world of entertainment.

“She was still schooling then. But she appeared versatile to me. She has interesting, good looks and can be groomed to be a model. With make-up, she can be transformed,” says Ang in a recent interview.

And so Yow was plucked from obscurity and a mundane life attending classes at Tunku Abdul Rahman College for her broadcasting diploma.

Soon after graduating, Yow threw herself into modelling as Crocodile’s official spokesman in Malaysia and Taiwan, fronting ad campaigns shot in London and Ho Chi Minh City – for the brand’s womenswear range – where she gained modelling experience in front of the camera.

But she really caught the attention of Singapore when her bikini-clad figure appeared on the sold-out December 2008 cover of FHM magazine in the Lion City.

The pictures were shot in Bali; it was only upon her arrival that she discovered that she was required to wear a bikini for the photographs.

Ever the trooper, Yow agreed to complete the shoot. When the magazine was published, the Chinese press labelled her “the busty 36C lady from Malaysia”. Yow unwittingly became the new pin-up girl for the island nation.

After the FHM buzz, acting and modelling offers started pouring in.

Ang, now her manager, recalled that “directors were calling up almost every day with scripts”.

So far, her screen time has been limited to either singing on film soundtracks (for the Fann Wong/Christopher Lee rom-com vehicle, The Wedding Game) or participating in Hong Kong game shows such as Eric Tsang’s Super Trio Supreme.

Now, with one movie already completed and another just confirmed recently, it’s quite amazing that she even managed to squeeze in a 10-day acting workshop in Taipei recently.

The movie in question is Aunties United, a movie spin-off from MediaCorp Channel 8’s Aunty Lucy character played by Y.E.S. 93.3FM DJ Dennis Chew, in the Paris and Milan variety show.

The movie revolves around Aunty Lucy’s attempts to play basketball but that is beside the point; Yow plays Aunty Lucy’s daughter, Enqi, a demure girl-next-door type who transforms into a sex bomb towards the end of the movie.

Surprisingly, being sexy on film proved to be more of a stumbling block for the budding actress.

In a recent interview, she said she recalled a scene that required her to walk slowly towards the camera, looking sexy.

“I had to pose, sway a little and look sexy. I didn’t think it would be difficult and everyone thought I would be able to complete it in just one take. But it felt weird when I did it. It wasn’t natural. I thought it could be because it was my first time acting,” Yow says.

The scene was finally approved by the director after the crew was asked to leave the hall they were filming in.

Yow’s performance has been hailed as promising in reviews.

The bigger surprise to critics was the ability of Yow to show a side of her completely removed from the ice queen, sex bomb image that propelled her to fame.

For the record, her recent weight loss means that the 36C tag is no longer applicable; the tabloids suggest that it is a more modest 34C now.

Yow geared up for the role with a whirlwind photoshoot in Paris for the media. During Paris Fashion Week, Yow was in the safe hands of her Singapore crew as the silver Volkswagen people-mover that we were travelling in functioned as hair and make-up station plus changing room.

While Yow appeared casual off-duty, she took her work seriously; there was a heightened sense of anticipation from the crew every time she emerged from the van.

Perfect fit

Two weeks after the photoshoot in Paris, the Singapore press announced that Christy had landed the lead role in Singaporean director Eric Khoo’s biopic of Rose Chan, called The Charming Rose (Mei Gui Xiang) in an epic casting call that took more than a year and 200 auditions with part-time actresses and assorted models.

Why did it take so long to find the right person?

“She should have the sultry lips of Shu Qi, the voluptuous figure of Fiona Xie, the height of Beatrice Chia, and the poise and complexion of Gong Li.

Hopefully, she can also act like Maggie Cheung and tell jokes like Irene Ang,” the director stated nonchalantly.

And one other tiny matter.

“It is hard to get local female artistes to strip,” producer Gary Goh admitted. On top of all that, she should also be in her 20s, be able to speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and be comfortable around snakes.

A tall order indeed.

The Singapore press is already making a big fuss over the fact that two scenes will require her to bare her assets – a full frontal nude scene and a rape scene.

But above all, said Khoo, “the female lead must bring out these different sides of Rose, a strong character. She’s almost a feminist in those days yet she also had her emotional moments.”

To prepare for the role, Yow has been visiting the nightclubs to learn from the mama-san how the GROs ply their trade.

In addition to this, Yow will also have to play an age range of between 17 and 35 years old as Rose Chan.

Rose Chan was a legend in 1950s Malaya, combining cabaret routines with striptease and daring circus stunts, including wrestling pythons and having motorcycles ride over her body.

She even made it to Australia, Germany and France with her act. At the height of her fame, she was rich enough to drive a Rolls-Royce, and had five husbands.

But the high-profile sex symbol lived out her twilight years alone, eventually succumbing to throat, lung and breast cancer at the age of 62. Her two adopted daughters did not attend her funeral.

“Sometimes I worry that things are moving too fast for Christy,” says Ang. “There is a need to manage what kind of scripts she’s getting and how her career is evolving.”

Given that she’s about to take on what could possibly be the defining role of her career, it may be a wise move to sit down and take stock of events.

But for now, Yow is one girl that’s coming up all roses.

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