Back in June, Tay Ying surprised everyone when she posted a photo of herself at the airport on Instagram, declaring that she will “be in Shanghai for a while”.
The 23-year-old, who auditioned for acting classes at the Shanghai-based acting school Motown last November, had been accepted and headed there after wrapping up her studies and work in Singapore.
When Tay Ying first got there, she admitted that she was nervous about being in the city on her own. Thankfully, her parents, veteran actors Zheng Geping and Hong Huifang, tagged along for the first couple of days, helping her settle in in the bustling city.
Tay Ying, who is back for about a month to promote her upcoming Channel 8 drama, The Good Fight, shared with Toggle during an interview, “I fit right in after about a week. I’ve always been independent so living alone wasn’t that intimidating of a prospect to me.”
The real culture shock, however, came when she had to deal with paying for day-to-day necessities there.
“I brought a whole month’s worth of cash to pay for my food and groceries, but everyone uses cashless payments like WeChat Pay or Alipay!” she revealed. “When I took out my wallet to pay my bill, the staff would give me a, ‘Is she for real?’ expression. Sometimes, they’d even have to check if they have change for me. Everyone there goes out with just their phones, because payments can be done so easily that way!”
She was also happy to report that she has integrated with the local culture, and has been able to set up virtual accounts to make payments just like everyone else.
This comes in especially handy as she’s been jetting between cities in China after finishing her three-month acting course.
“Just like everyone else who’s trying to start out in the industry there, I’ve only landed commercial deals so far. Of course, I’d be happy if I get offered any projects but I don’t have anything on hand that I can reveal or confirm right now,” she mused, looking slightly apologetic.
What she could talk about, however, was her acting classes, which she gushed was one of her best experiences ever.
“My teachers were great, and they really taught me how to improve my language skills and show my emotions,” the actress beamed. “I could cry and scream every day without harming my throat because they taught me the proper techniques for it.”
We had to raise an eyebrow at that, and asked her what this daily emotional overload was all about.
She let on with a laugh, “I was the only female in my age range there, which was a little scary at first, but it really forced me out of my comfort zone and I was able to improve a lot from there. I was paired with a different guy every day during the classes, which enabled me to work with different partners easily. But that also meant that I had to do all the emotional scenes required.”
Tay Ying was the rose among the thorns - at least during classes.
Even after the daily emotional rollercoasters that were part of acting classes, she didn’t go back to her loft and rest immediately. Instead, she would read out and record a different news article every day and send it to her teachers for them to correct her on her language. “I think I was quite bad at first, so I’m really grateful to my teachers for being so patient with me,” she grinned.
Even after completing the course, she mused that she has much to learn. While her current break in Singapore is a welcome one, she’s gotten a bit overwhelmed by the loved ones who want to meet her.
She’ll be heading back to China next month, where she will continue honing her craft. As for when she’ll be back in Singapore for good, there are no definite plans yet. All we can say to this budding star is that we wish her the best of luck and look forward to more good news from her.
The Good Fight is available on demand for free on Toggle from November 18.
The Good Fight premieres November 18, 9pm on Channel 8.
Photos: Tay Ying