Huang Biren: No regrets leaving showbiz six years ago

The mother of three kids talks about her fruitful time spent being a full-time mother after she left showbiz in 2008

Photos: Wu Qi & Joanna Goh
Videos: Teng Siew Eng

Huang Biren: No regrets leaving showbiz six years ago

The name ‘Huang Biren’ gets us all giddy with excitement – this statuesque lady was, after all, a former familiar figure on the primetime TV belt in the 90s and early noughties, was and still is widely-known as an actress with top-notch acting craft, having won the Star Awards Best Actress award three times so far. We saw the last of her acting brilliance in 2007’s Mars VS Venus co-starring Tay Ping Hui, after which she left showbiz at the peak of her career to become a full-time mum to her growing brood of then-two-now-three children.
It’s hard to quit something you love and enjoy doing so much and that’s why Biren’s on local television again six years on, with her kids all grown up (her son is 14 years old and she has a pair of daughters at 6 and 4 years old).
Marking her return in a WaWa Pictures produced family series called ‘Three Wishes,’ the candid actress said her decision to leave showbiz was one filled with “no regrets” and she had agreed to this role “without any hesitation” when the executive producer Molby Low pitched this story to her. And what made her say yes – without reading any script or story outline – were Molby’s words about women being the “pillars” of their families that spoke out to her, said Biren, during her interview with xinmsn at the Channel 8 drama’s press conference at the Singapore Marriott Hotel.
“As long as you’re happy in everything you do, there will be no room for regrets. Watching my kids grow up is a form of happiness for me,” she shared, beaming like a proud mama. “There are of course times of anger and frustration, but this is a process. I know that if I don’t enjoy this [process] now, I’d never get to experience it again.

The cast of Three Wishes

This process, in Biren’s words, was a “huge bonus” for her. Apart from being her children’s full-time chauffeur and caretaker at home, the 45-year-old also likened herself as a ‘study mama’ who mentored and tutored her oldest kid through his biggest exam – the PSLE, before he entered Secondary School.
Although she’s unable to support him academically, the mother of three speaks of her firstborn, Justin, with pride, calling him an “independent and mature” child with a mind of his own. “I did not waste this period of time spent at home because he is mature at 14 years old now, and I’m very heartened by it.”
Her two daughters are set to enter their next phase of schooling life in 2015 too – with her second child, Janessa, entering primary school and youngest child, Janelle, starting kindergarten. With that in mind, she told us: “I think it’s time I did something for myself.”
Despite her commitments back at home, she did not see the need to put in any special scheduling requests and wanted to be treated like everyone else on set – from the early call times to having standard takeout lunch meals with the crew. To accommodate her new work schedule for the next 3.5 months, she also arranged for her two daughters to ride the school bus.
Her two girls were excited about their first time being on the school bus, but their first ride back home didn’t go too well, recalled Biren as she shared one of her many mummy anecdotes.
“I had a shock when I picked them up from the school bus on the first day. They were in a bad state, their hands were cold and their hair was in a mess,” she laughed.

Huang Biren and Julie Tan, her onscreen daughter in Three Wishes

“They were tired ‘cos of the many stops the school bus made and I felt so bad for them. My second child started puking at home ‘cos she got car sick and didn’t feel well. I thought the youngest was still going strong but she started running a temperature the next day. I was heartbroken and worried ‘cos I was due to start work in two days’ time, but thankfully they got used to it eventually.”
As this is also Biren’s daughters’ first time getting acquainted with mummy’s other identity as an actress, the two girls flooded her with all sorts of inquisitive questions and remarks – even throwing an occasional tantrum or two when they saw her in drama reruns playing someone else’s mother.
“They’d ask me things like: ‘Who’s this man? Do you love dad or this man?’ They’d get jealous too and ask me: ‘Do you love me more than them?’ They ask all this type of childish questions. (Laughs). And you just need to give them confidence and reassure them,” she shared. “I feel happy to be able to share these with my kids and explain all these to them. “

WATCH: Huang Biren’s kids were jealous of her kids in ‘Three Wishes’
WATCH: Huang Biren’s co-star Thomas Ong talks about his chemistry with his “kids”

Catch Three Wishes on Channel 8, Monday to Friday, 9pm, staring from Oct 27.

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