Photos: Dion Tang
Videos: Tan Shi Qi
MediaCorp actors Tay Ping Hui and Zhang Yao Dong would be making a return to our television screens with Channel 8’s 30-episode action-thriller Mind Game, their first drama of the year.
Last Tuesday (Apr 28), both actors attended the show’s press conference and let on the reason for their reduced appearances on television and their career plans for the near future.
An established and versatile actor in the industry, Ping Hui branched out of his acting career by dabbling in other fields which saw him starting his own artist management company and directing his own film in recent years.
During his interview, the 44-year-old revealed that he is also busy setting up a new IT firm, which is co-owned by him and his friends. He added that he has spent a six-figure sum for the company to operate smoothly in its starting phase. The company is slated to launch its maiden phone application and computer software come June or July, but Ping Hui is only in charge of administrative issues while his friends, experienced in coding and programming, are in charge of technical issues.
As for his other investments, Ping Hui stated, “(I will take) one step at a time. I was never a person who succeeded immediately, so I want to establish a strong foundation before doing other things.”
Apart from his business investments, the 44-year-old is actively preparing to direct his second film after his debut film Meeting the Giant. The story would feature a female singer that “any Chinese-speaking person would have heard of” and his team is currently refining the script and looking for investors in Singapore and China.
“We wouldn’t be inviting the singer to act [in it] as we don’t have the budget. (Laughs)” he teased.
He is also keen to work with local veteran Zhu Hou Ren for his upcoming film again, as the two have had a pleasant collaboration in his previous film.
“Hou Ren da ge is a man of his words. When we first decided to collaborate, I told him that should he want me to be a director, he needs to let go and let me take the lead. In the end, he really respected me and I am thankful that he trusted me.”
Ping Hui does not want attention on his private life
When asked to clarify recent rumours of his wife’s pregnancy, Ping Hui answered ambiguously, “No, it isn’t true. Plans? If we are already expecting a child, why do we still need to plan? (For how many children?) There isn’t a need. What is yours is yours, what isn’t, isn’t.”
Ping Hui added that he is highly protective of his family and does not feel that the public needs to know of his family matters.
“I am an actor but my family and my private life should not be in the spotlight. Whether we have (children) or not, it is purely our personal issue and I don’t have to answer to anyone. It is not that I don’t respect others, it is because I respect my family.”
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Yao Dong was nervous to act alongside Zhao Wei
It has been close to two years since Malaysian-born-Singapore-based actor Zhang Yao Dong took part in a local drama, but the 37-year-old is ready for his return after his long break.
While Yao Dong had been travelling and working hard to tone up his body while he was away, he also spilled the beans on his once-in-a-lifetime experience of starring in renowned Hong Kong film director Johnnie To’s upcoming film, Three, alongside award-winning actors like Zhao Wei, Louis Koo and Wallace Chung.
Initially, Yao Dong was not so keen on the casting offer. “As I was busy in Singapore then, I bluntly told the person I am indifferent as to whether they want to cast me or not, as it was only one scene.” However, he unexpectedly received a call from Johnnie’s assistant director after sending his portfolio, which sent the star-struck actor scrambling as he packed his bags and left for Hong Kong immediately.
On set, Yao Dong, who plays a doctor alongside Zhao Wei, was suddenly made to memorise a page’s worth of script filled with medical terms in 20 minutes and deliver his lines in Cantonese and English.
When Yao Dong saw the director walking to him after he had an NG (no-good) take, he kept thinking ‘I’m doomed, he’s definitely going to scold me’. To his surprise, Johnnie encouraged him by saying, ‘Let’s do this slowly. We will start once you are ready.”
Despite having a tough time filming the movie, Yao Dong is glad that Johnnie has a good impression of him and is even considering increasing his screen time.
Apart from starring in Johnnie’s film, Yao Dong also has his schedule packed to the brim for the year, including a Malaysian drama in May, Malaysian movie in July and a local drama in August. He has also signed an artiste contract in Taiwan, and would look to venture into the Chinese and Taiwan entertainment industry in the near future.
Moreover, with the success of his restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, the 37-year-old also expressed his interest in setting up another restaurant soon.
This article is translated by Isadora Ong.
Catch Mind Game when it debuts May 7, every Monday to Friday at 9pm on Ch8.