Joanna Dong now dares to make fun of Jay Chou?

The local singer, who makes an appearance in ‘How Are You?’ with Michelle Yim, reveals how she inspired the dance break in the Mandopop king’s recent Singapore Grand Prix set

Joanna Dong, who recently performed with Jay Chou, and Michelle Yim after filming for 'How Are You?'
Joanna Dong, who recently performed with Jay Chou, and Michelle Yim after filming for 'How Are You?'
25 Sep 2018

Joanna Dong, who recently performed with Jay Chou, and Michelle Yim after filming for 'How Are You?'

Photos: Tammi Tan

JJ Lin isn’t the only home-grown talent of ours who can get all buddy-buddy with Mandopop king Jay Chou.

Since getting to know Jay as her mentor on talent search competition Sing! China, local jazz chanteuse Joanna Dong has had several valuable opportunities to collaborate with the Taiwanese superstar on stage, with the most recent being their joint performance at the Singapore Grand Prix concert. The duo sang three songs together, and according to Joanna, a silly and carefree little moment of hers during rehearsals managed to turn into a full-fledged dance break in the final showcase.

“By now we are quite comfortable with each other on stage – it’s less of nervous excitement for me, and more of me wanting to show him how much I’ve grown,” she told us during our interview after wrapping up her scenes for upcoming dialect drama How Are You?, in which she makes a special guest appearance as a Cantonese-speaking department store manager.

Well, comfortable, except for that aforementioned little dance break, which she said she “totally did not see coming”.

“So what happened was,” she elaborated. “We were rehearsing for ‘Cowboy on the Run’ the night before, and since it was such a fun song, I was just mucking around and doing a little jig in the corner, then Jay saw me and was like, ‘Aiyo, not bad ah!’ and asked me to teach him the moves, which were like the Charleston.”

His display of curiosity wasn’t just for fun: before Joanna knew it, he had roped in his choreographer, and after a five-minute demonstration and running it through with the entire team twice, Jay was apparently very satisfied with this very last-minute addition and declared, “Good, let’s do this tomorrow.” And thus, the dance break witnessed by 45,000 spectators was born from a little “mucking around”.

(Continued on next slide: Joanna dares to be “cheekier” with Jay Chou)

Additional photo: Instagram/Joanna Dong

Joanna dares to be “cheekier” with Jay Chou
Joanna dares to be “cheekier” with Jay Chou
25 Sep 2018

Joanna dares to be “cheekier” with Jay Chou

Despite being taken aback then, Joanna shared that she “wasn’t surprised” by his behaviour as “he always does this to his students”. “This is not the first time he’s sabo-ed (sabotaged) me before; throwing us into the deep end is his way of mentoring us,” she said. Well, if you’re going to learn from someone, might as well learn from someone like the Jay Chou, right?

That wasn’t the only example of Joanna demonstrating just how laidback she is around the A-lister. “I think I’ve crossed the threshold of familiarity enough to be a bit cheekier with him,” she grinned, going into the story of how she spotted him sitting inside a car (with tinted windows, naturally) after their Grand Prix gig. “I waved at him and gave him a finger heart before walking away, feeling quite paiseh (embarrassed),” she chuckled.

To her surprise, Jay actually got out of the vehicle, asked her to come over (he calls her by her Chinese name, Zi Yan, in case anyone’s wondering), and jokingly berated her, “I think you made a mistake during the dance break just now.”

Instead of feeling foolish and apologising profusely to her lao shi (teacher), which is something we would definitely have done regardless of whether we thought we were at fault or not, Joanna replied with equally playful indignation, “Did I? I didn’t notice. If there’s anyone who made a mistake, it’s probably you. I stayed up to practise the whole night!”

Joanna Dong: 1; Jay Chou: 0.

(Continued on next slide: Joanna didn’t expect to be working with Michelle Yim)

Photos: Instagram/Joanna Dong

Joanna didn’t expect to be working with Michelle Yim
Joanna didn’t expect to be working with Michelle Yim
25 Sep 2018

Joanna didn’t expect to be working with Michelle Yim

This frankly unexpected sassy side of Joanna popped up again during filming for How Are You?, in which she shares scenes with Romeo Tan, Joshua Tan and Hong Kong veteran actress Michelle Yim (also known as Mi Xue). Although she admitted to struggling slightly with her Cantonese dialogue, she was comforted by the fact that Joshua is “substantially” worse off than she is at the language.

“If I rate myself a 4 out of 10, he’s a 1 out of 10!” she chuckled. “I had to control myself from laughing at him.”

On a more serious note, the singer shared that when she was approached by Zheng Ge Ping, who is the producer, with the small role, she accepted it because A) it was a one-day shoot that she could easily fit into her schedule, B) she loves the idea of a dialect series and C) she hasn’t done a television show with actual lines (her only experience was as a calefare salesgirl alongside Quan Yifong in a Channel 8 show she can’t even remember).

What she absolutely didn’t expect was that she would be exchanging lines with Michelle, who is Joshua and Romeo’s onscreen mother. “That was a real bonus,” she gushed. “At first I felt a little bit stressed, but knowing how experienced she is reassured me that everything is going to be okay. I’ve filmed one movie and done enough stage plays to know that when you’re working with someone who’s very experienced, you’re in good hands.”

Now that her proper TV debut is done and dusted, Joanna can now move on to her next big project: a live house (something like jazz pubs) tour in seven major cities in China, including Hangzhou, which she said will be like “a homecoming” for her as that’s where she was crowned the second runner-up of Sing! China almost a year ago.

And after that…who knows? All the amazing accomplishments she’s racked up over the past year have made her dare to even consider “ludicrous dreams”, for instance, starring in a movie musical with Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael Fassbender.

“Once you get the taste of something, you can only hunger for more, so if anything my appetite has only increased,” she said. “I used to tell myself to have realistic goals, but once you realise, ‘I’ve performed with Jay Chou!’ – anything is possible.”

(Continued on next slide: Michelle Yim returns to local TV after 13 years)

Michelle Yim returns to local TV after 13 years
Michelle Yim returns to local TV after 13 years
25 Sep 2018

Michelle Yim returns to local TV after 13 years

Michelle’s arrival to a random block in Ang Mo Kio was met with no shortage of gasps, wide-eyed stares and shocked exclamations (and the occasional request for a photo from bolder souls, which she happily obliged). “She looks like she hasn’t aged a day!” remarked one aunty, while another voiced her admiration for the 63-year-old actress’s slim physique.

This isn’t the first time she’s worked on a local production, of course, although her last one was in The Rainbow Connection 13 years ago. Since then, she’s continued to make regular visits to the little red dot for leisure. Once, she even made a special trip here to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival because she loves the vibe (and our durian snow skin mooncakes).

Needless to say, speaking in her native tongue, Cantonese, for How Are You? was an absolute breeze for the Hong Kong star. While she graciously stated that her local co-stars’ dialect-speaking skills are quite good, she also shared an amusing anecdote about ad-libbing a line in order to accommodate Joshua’s not-so-perfect Cantonese and fill up plot holes (after all, he was raised by her in the show). “I said, ‘You’ve been in Singapore for so long, your Cantonese has gotten worse!’” Genius, no?

When we asked if there are any other of our talents that she’d love to work with, she gave the usual “I’d love to work with everybody” answer, but gave a sweet explanation. “I find Singapore actors very ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’,” she smiled. “For example, Joshua behaves like my son in real life, he keeps calling me ‘Mama’ even off set – there are not many young people who would do that nowadays.”

She continued, “And there’s Chen Liping: although it’s been so many years since we last worked together (in 1991’s Legend of a Beauty), she still treats me like an old friend. The cast in general has been fantastic, they always come prepared.”

How Are You? is a collaboration between the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Mediacorp. The drama debuts Jan 4, 2019, Friday, 11.30am on Channel 8.

Click through for more photos from yesterday’s filming session!

We wonder if this is how Joanna looks like when she pokes fun at Jay Chou
We wonder if this is how Joanna looks like when she pokes fun at Jay Chou
25 Sep 2018

We wonder if this is how Joanna looks like when she pokes fun at Jay Chou

Joshua, Michelle and Joanna prepare for their scene in the department store
Joshua, Michelle and Joanna prepare for their scene in the department store
25 Sep 2018

Joshua, Michelle and Joanna prepare for their scene in the department store

Michelle and Joanna on the set of 'How Are You?'
Michelle and Joanna on the set of 'How Are You?'
25 Sep 2018

Michelle and Joanna on the set of 'How Are You?'

Joshua, Michelle and Joanna share a laugh on set
Joshua, Michelle and Joanna share a laugh on set
25 Sep 2018

Joshua, Michelle and Joanna share a laugh on set

Michelle takes a photo with her onscreen sons Romeo and Joshua
Michelle takes a photo with her onscreen sons Romeo and Joshua
25 Sep 2018

Michelle takes a photo with her onscreen sons Romeo and Joshua

Michelle with her onscreen son Joshua
Michelle with her onscreen son Joshua
25 Sep 2018

Michelle with her onscreen son Joshua

Related:
Chen Li Ping, Romeo Tan play lovers in new dialect drama

Watch past dialect dramas Eat Already? 1, Eat Already? 2, Eat Already? 3 and Eat Already? 4 on Toggle.

Report a problem