Video: Goh Wen Kai
You’ve seen Chen Yi Xi helping out behind-the-scenes as his mom Xiang Yun’s PA, and previously in xinmsn web series i.Rock, but come 2018, he will be making his Channel 8 debut with Lunar New Year drama 118 Reunion.
Speaking to Toggle at an imaging session yesterday, he chuckled, “Both (my sister) Yi Xin and I said something similar seven months ago: ‘Aiya, we probably won’t become actors!’ but look where we are now.” Yi Xin is currently working on another upcoming drama, While We Are Young, together with fellow budding stars such as Chantelle Ng, Calvert Tay and Marcus Guo.
In 118 Reunion, he plays rock climbing instructor Arthur, who falls in love with Hong Shan Shan (Sheila Sim) after he finds out about the hardships she goes through. On his reel-life romantic relationship with Sheila, who is seven years his senior, Yi Xi admitted, “I’m definitely nervous about this but I think it’ll be fine after we discuss how to approach our characters’ relationships. We haven’t had the chance to do so because at the first meeting, she was sitting so far away that I didn’t have the chance to interact much with her!”
“I never really thought about being in a relationship with older women until I read through the script and was like, ‘Oh, such things really do happen!’ but personally, I think I’d only be able to date someone who’s up to five years my senior,” he added.
As for possible kiss scenes between the pair, Yi Xi asked in surprise, “Are there any kiss scenes involved? Even if there are, I’m fine with it as long as it makes sense in the drama.”
Upon graduating from Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media last year, Yi Xi joined a Japanese design company and worked for about a year before a life-changing decision came his way. “I was already thinking about doing something different when I received a call from the director (of 118 Reunion) telling me that there was a role that he felt was suitable for me. I learned more about it and it was something that is really different from what I’ve done in the past, which made me consider it more seriously,” the 26-year-old let on.
After “two to three months” of pondering, Yi Xi is officially signed under Mediacorp under a two-year free talent contract and has also left his former stable job. “Being a typical kiasu Singaporean, I did consider this quite a bit before I made my choice,” he shared. “But as I was studying animation, my passion in acting grew as I realised that drawing animation isn’t that different from acting after all - you’re in your own world as long as the story is ongoing.”
Does that mean that we’ll be seeing Yi Xi quite a bit more in dramas and movies in the coming months? “I definitely hope to be able to be a part of more dramas in the future,” he grinned. “As for now, I’ll be working hard to portray my role in 118 Reunion and hopefully show a different side of myself to the viewers.” He has also shared that he does not have any fixed number of dramas that he will be in per year.
While he's not busy filming, he'll be working on his other passion - art. Having a number of art exhibitions and commissions under his belt, he will also add another feather to his hat in the next two months with the launch of his first book.
Photos: Chen Yi Xi/Instagram, Xiang Yun/Instagram
"I've been working on this sketchbook for as long as I remember. I whip it out whenever I have time - when I used to help out as my mom's PA on set, I'd make sure everything was in order and take it out after filming commenced. While the cameras are rolling, the characters exist in an entirely new world, so I want to capture that as much as possible," he said.
After putting in a four-figure investment, he will be holding a soft launch for his book to "gauge interest in my book and to best understand what the public wants". Yi Xi's maiden publication will also be produced by the same company that handles his dad's books.
Before filming commences, Yi Xi mused that he’ll be working on three key things: hitting the gym to bulk up so as to look more convincing as a rock climbing instructor, improving his Mandarin skills and memorising his script.
He will also go through his script with his parents, Edmund Chen and Xiang Yun, whom he shares will also give him pointers on how to best express his role.
As for whether his father will finally consider making his acting comeback now that the rest of his family members are in acting, Yi Xi laughed, “For him, it really depends on the script. We’ve talked about all four of us being in the same project before - that would be really great - but at the end of the day, it boils down to whether the script is something that draws him in.”
To all the scriptwriters out there, you know what to do.
118 Reunion premieres January 29 2018, 9pm on Channel 8.