Saturday March 16, 2013
By GRACE CHEN and GOH LAY KHOON
Hong Kong celebrity and brand ambassador for Kinohimitsu shares her recipe for success.
FRESH from her recent wins, Tavia Yeung looks every bit as charming as she does in her TV serials, and is even prettier in person.
Last year, she won the Best Actress Award at the 45th TVB Anniversary Awards for her role as a famous Peking opera singer in the Hong Kong TV series Silver Spoons, Sterling Shackles. She was also recognised for her role in The Hippocratic Crush by Astro On Demand drama and voted Favourite Actress.
Despite her string of awards, Yeung isn’t the sort to gloat or bask in the limelight. If anything, she appeared unaffected by the fame, and came across as real and down-to-earth.
When asked how she felt about the awards, she replied that she was elated and proud to be recognised for her work as an actress, and encouraged to work even harder to improve her craft.
In one memorable episode of The Hippocratic Crush, Yeung plays a neurosurgeon who dates a fellow doctor who doesn’t drive. To impress her, the doctor takes driving lessons the night just before their big date. To top it all off, she gets a bouquet of roses and a Pomeranian who goes by the name of “Ugly”. But halfway through, her legs suddenly go weak and she collapses. The truth emerges. She is dying …and Yeung does it most convincingly.
Surely it’s not an easy task to adapt from character to character, but she takes it all in stride. On how she prepares for her roles, Yeung said that every actor will have his or her own method.
“It took me years to learn how to immerse myself in character. I learnt a lot from others who are more experienced, and whatever criticism I receive along the way is seen as an opportunity to better myself,” she shared in an exclusive 15-minute interview.
Yeung, who is the beauty ambassador for Japanese health and beauty brand Kinohimitsu, was in Kuala Lumpur recently for a launch by the brand at Mid Valley Megamall. Fans thronged around her and many flicked out their handphones for a quick snap of the TVB star.
She added that for her personally, her most memorable role was the character she played in her most recent foray, Silver Spoons, Sterling Shackles.
“It was very challenging to play the part of stage singer Sai Fenghuang as her character was so complicated.”
Has there been any role thus far that she’s portrayed which mirrors her true self?
“I feel it’s not possible for an actress to put all of herself out there in one single role. Every character is different so it’s hard to say which one is most like me. They all carry bits of my character,” she said.
The daughter of a cleaner and a hotel general worker, she confessed to being a quiet child.
“In school, I never took part in the yearly concerts. My sister, Griselda, a runner up in the 2001 Miss Hong Kong pageant and an actress for TVB 8 and TVB Jade, was the outgoing one instead,” revealed Yeung, 34.
“It takes a while for me to warm up as I have to be comfortable with the people I’m with,” she said, adding that she enjoys taking time out sometimes and spending alone time to recharge.
What’s her daily motivational mantra?
“To avoid disappointment, I don’t set very high targets for myself. I prefer to take things one step at a time. I believe it is important to give full attention to whatever is in front of you first. To give you an idea, the first thing that often comes to mind when I wake up in the morning is, ‘Am I late for work?’” said Yeung with a laugh.
The one crutch she cannot do without is her mother’s unwavering support.
“My mother is the last person to ask me if the gossip mongers are speaking the truth. She once told me that the price of fame meant having to deal with all sorts of people – good and bad. The important thing was to know what my goals were and to be single-minded in achieving them. In turn, I don’t bring my work home and they don’t discuss tabloids news with me. They have sufficient faith in me to know that I am mature enough to handle whatever challenges may come my way,” she said.
Now that she has achieved fame, what’s different?
“Fame has changed my life. It has taken me years to get to where I am and it has brought positive change in that it has enabled me help my family to be more comfortable (financially). But it also means having to give up a measure of freedom as everything I do is scrutinised by the public eye. Nonetheless, I take it as a good thing because it means my fans care about me and recognise me as an actress,” Yeung said.
There are so many artistes in the industry, so how does she compete and stay ahead of the game?
“I don’t view any one person as my competitor. In a way, everyone is a contender as they all have their own unique attributes and are just as talented. I was just lucky I was there at the right time and right place (to win the award).”
Acting aside, Yeung has no illusions about men.
“What’s important is to have a good connection. It doesn’t matter whether he is famous or not. There’s no such thing as the perfect guy because Prince Charming only exists in fairy tales,” said Yeung when asked about what she looked for in a guy.
Asked what her future plans were, she answered that she would like to do more comedies as she likes happy, funny roles. Would she ever consider a career change?
“If I wanted a career change, I should have done it years ago. I’m too old to change now! Maybe, I might expand my horizon and go into business,” she concluded.