Bernice Liu, the Lion Mum in training

The Hong Kong-based Canadian actress told us more about her child whisperer ways, along with what kind of mother she hopes to be in the future

Bernice Liu, the Lion Mum in training
Bernice Liu, the Lion Mum in training
26 Jul 2017

Bernice Liu, the Lion Mum in training

Additional Photos: Channel 5
Video: Goh Wen Kai

The Lion Mums are back - this time, with one more mum added to the mix. Bernice Liu, Nurul Aini and Vanessa Vanderstraaten reprise their roles as Jennifer, Durrani, Min Yi respectively. They will also be joined by a familiar face - Lina Ng, who is no stranger to Channel 8 audiences, taking on her first English-speaking role with this series.

Given the two years since Lion Mums aired - the first season debuted in September 2015 - how much has changed?

Bernice sat down for an interview with Toggle after a day of filming, chuckling that what made her say yes to coming back to Singapore was how the director promised to keep things the way they are. “Nowadays, when you go from season one to season two (in dramas), you see so many new people that you don’t remember who was in season one in the first place. It’s nice that (they) kept to that and everyone has grown up together for the past two years.”

Given the two-year gap between the first and second seasons, Jennifer, Durrani and Min Yi’s children have now entered primary school, and these mums have a whole new set of problems and challenges to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

(Continued on next slide: Bernice Liu and her child whisperer ways)

Bernice Liu and her child whisperer ways
Bernice Liu and her child whisperer ways
26 Jul 2017

Bernice Liu and her child whisperer ways

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is how well Bernice can handle children. “I think I'm the nice aunt figure to a lot of kids,” she grinned. “Sometimes they have problems communicating with adults - as grown-ups, we have that problem as well - and they're also afraid of being misunderstood.”

Recounting an episode on-set where one of the child actors was voicing out that she was “hurting”, Bernice explained that many of the other cast and crew thought that she meant that she was tired. As it turns out, there was an object in her backpack that was poking into her back, and when they discovered it, “some of the adults felt guilty for not realising the problem sooner”.

The 38-year-old has had plenty of practice with kids even in real life, as her siblings’ children go to her when they experience communication breakdowns with their parents.

“My niece is like a little adult,” she chuckled. “Sometimes she feels that her mum, who is my sister, doesn't get her and she calls me to talk about it. After sorting out her thoughts together with me, she's able to go back to her mum and talk about it better.”

(Continued on next slide: Becoming a ninja kiasu mum - in the future, of course)

Becoming a ninja kiasu mum - in the future, of course
Becoming a ninja kiasu mum - in the future, of course
26 Jul 2017

Becoming a ninja kiasu mum - in the future, of course

While it may be quite some time before Bernice becomes a mother herself, she already has ideals on what kind of Lion Mum she’d want to be. “If I could be like my mother, that would be perfect,” she laughed. “If you ever get to meet her, she looks like this fluffy tofu mum - she’s smiley and nice, but she’s actually a quiet, ninja-kiasu mum.”

As Bernice mentioned in her interview with Toggle when she was in town to film the first season of Lion Mums, she grew up being a bit of an overachiever herself – she danced “six hours a day, six days a week, on top of learning Taekwondo and being in so many AP classes” – and this wasn’t because her mother forced her into it, but because she was somehow convinced that it was something that she wanted to do. (Ed’s note: AP classes in high school are the equivalent of doing undergraduate courses, which can contribute to accelerated college placement based on the student’s AP exam results.)

It’s this “kiasu, yet not kiasu” way of parenting that Bernice hopes that she will be able to achieve in the future, because she believes that having children wanting to do all these extracurricular – or in Singapore co-curricular activities – will allow them to enjoy and excel in whatever they pursue. She added with a grin, “To be honest, I really don’t know how she managed to be such a ninja kiasu mum – I guess I’ll have to ask her for tips when the time comes.”

(Continued on next slide: Welcoming Lina Ng into the pride)

Welcoming Lina Ng into the pride
Welcoming Lina Ng into the pride
26 Jul 2017

Welcoming Lina Ng into the pride

Rounding out the Lion Mums this season is Lina Ng, who old-time viewers of Channel 8 dramas have been pleasantly surprised to see. After tying the knot with her non-celebrity husband, Mike Lam, in 2004, the 43-year-old has taken on fewer showbiz projects as she looks after her family, which consists of her brood of three sons.

Last year, she became part of the LOVE 97.2FM family as she took on her first DJing stint, and has also returned to TV screens through Channel 8 dramas Have A Little Faith and Nanny Hero.

Adding on to her workload this year is Lion Mums 2, which is also her first-ever role in an English series.

“It’s a really big challenge. At the start, I felt like a rookie actress. I gave myself some pressure because I know the level of acting that I need to attain, but if I had to memorise my lines, it might affect the expressions that I show. That was what I was most afraid of, and what I found the toughest to overcome,” Lina confessed.

She continued, “I spent two days memorising my lines for every scene. On the first day, I would read the script but I’d tend to forget my lines after I took the script away. After I memorised my lines, I’d have to work on incorporating my expressions, so I’d have to do it all over again and also focus on my expressions and decide on how I should do that scene. We started filming in March or April, and for three months, in March, April and May, I had to prepare for each scene two days in advance.”

She attributes her growing confidence in speaking in English to her fellow castmates, in particular Nurul and Vanessa, who have helped her in more ways than one. “Vanessa is my English teacher and she’s been helping me with my English,” she shared. “Nurul is the one who’s always encouraging me with words like, ‘You can do it! You can do it! Don’t worry Lina!’ As for Bernice, I don’t see her often as I have the least number of scenes with her out of the entire cast. It’s because of their encouragement and patience that I’m able to gradually improve.”

(Continued on next slide: The not-so-Lion Mum in real life)

The not-so-Lion Mum in real life
The not-so-Lion Mum in real life
26 Jul 2017

The not-so-Lion Mum in real life

While Lina’s on-screen self is a bit of an overachiever - she was a top student whose three children are also top students themselves. Her oldest on-screen child ends up as the top scorer in the PSLE (and all of us know the amount of prestige associated with that is), her middle child is in the GEP, and her youngest, who is only Primary One, is already on the fast-track to becoming the nation’s next whiz kid.

In real-life, however, Lina is much more relaxed with her children, with one exception. “Personally, I’m not as strict as my character. I prefer to let my children enjoy themselves throughout their learning process. The only requirement that I have is that they have to put in effort,” she explained with a chuckle.

“When I see my son not putting in effort in his work – as a mum, you’re able to tell the difference – I won’t blame him if he puts in effort but doesn’t get good results, but if he doesn’t put in effort and doesn’t do well, he’ll really get it from me.”

Click on for a sneak peek at what to expect in Lion Mums 2!

Nurul, who plays Durrani, is a little more pushy this time around
Nurul, who plays Durrani, is a little more pushy this time around
26 Jul 2017

Nurul, who plays Durrani, is a little more pushy this time around

New day, new drama. That's what it'll be like for Durrani, who becomes a lot more intense with both her kids and her husband.

Vanessa's character, Min Yi, might find a new love interest this season
Vanessa's character, Min Yi, might find a new love interest this season
26 Jul 2017

Vanessa's character, Min Yi, might find a new love interest this season

Who could it be? You have to stay tuned to find out.

Bernice Liu with her reel-life daughter
Bernice Liu with her reel-life daughter
26 Jul 2017

Bernice Liu with her reel-life daughter

Why, if it isn't resident funnyman Mark Lee we spy in this snap.

Lina Ng
Lina Ng
26 Jul 2017

Lina Ng

L-R: Vanessa Vanderstraaten and Bernice Liu
L-R: Vanessa Vanderstraaten and Bernice Liu
26 Jul 2017

L-R: Vanessa Vanderstraaten and Bernice Liu

The Lion Mum quartet got all dolled up for a scene shot at the Mandarin Gallery
The Lion Mum quartet got all dolled up for a scene shot at the Mandarin Gallery
26 Jul 2017

The Lion Mum quartet got all dolled up for a scene shot at the Mandarin Gallery

What surprises will this new season bring for the Lion Mums?
What surprises will this new season bring for the Lion Mums?
26 Jul 2017

What surprises will this new season bring for the Lion Mums?

Stay tuned on August 9 to find out.

WATCH: The Lion Mums tell us what we can expect in Season 2! 

Lion Mums 2 debuts August 9 on Channel 5.
Watch past episodes of Lion Mums Season 1 on Toggle.

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