Carrie Wong, the repentant “diva”

The first-time Best Actress hopeful gets candid about her past attitude problems, supposed feud with Julie Tan, what she’s up to in Taiwan and more

Carrie Wong: the repentant “diva”
Carrie Wong: the repentant “diva”
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong: the repentant “diva”

Some artistes, such as Paige Chua and Desmond Tan, wait literally a decade or more for their first Best Actor or Actress nomination. And then there are others like Carrie Wong, who get there in literally less than half that amount of time (four years since her debut, to be precise).

The 24-year-old has enjoyed nothing short of a swift, smooth-sailing soar to the top since she emerged as second runner-up in talent search competition Hey Gorgeous in 2013. Before long, leading roles came a-knocking, and her turn as a stoic extra-terrestrial in My Friends From Afar landed her a nod for Best Actress at this year’s Star Awards.

Of course, with such a meteoric rise comes the risk of letting success get to one’s head, or at the very least, spur accusations of it. Rumours that Carrie was a diva with an attitude (the bad kind), difficult to work with and so on began to swirl, and while she admitted that they used to bother her (which is understandable), she has recently learned to just not give a darn.

“One thing that’ll never change about being a public figure is that you can’t please everyone,” she mused during our catch-up session at the Mediacorp Campus, not long before she was to attend the Star Awards 2018 Creative Achievement Awards just downstairs. “If you get tangled up in everyone’s opinions, you will have a very difficult time.”

(Continued on next slide: Carrie recalls her foul-tempered days)

Carrie Wong as Bai Lanxiang in 'The Journey: Tumultuous Times'
Carrie Wong as Bai Lanxiang in 'The Journey: Tumultuous Times'
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong as Bai Lanxiang in 'The Journey: Tumultuous Times'

As such, Carrie refrains from paying attention to negativity, and even if she happens to catch wind of unfavourable chatter, she will try not to let it get to her. “You can do absolutely nothing, and yet people might still hate you,” she stated, before adding with a chuckle, “Perhaps they just don’t like my face?”

Her appearance has nothing to do with it, and well, her supposed notoriety may not exactly have started from “absolutely nothing”. Carrie was candid about having a bad temper during the early stages of her showbiz career, and it didn’t help that she has trouble masking her emotions (sounds unlikely coming from a Best Actress nominee, but we’ll take her word for it).

“I remember getting angry very easily when I first entered the industry, and back then, I didn’t care because I thought that as long as it didn’t affect my work, it didn’t matter,” she said, although she can’t remember specific examples of her blowing up, or why.

In any case, we are just going to let bygones be bygones, especially with her vastly improved temperament.

(Continued on next slide: The new Carrie is better at saying ‘sorry’ now)

Carrie Wong with her third Top 10 trophy at last year's Star Awards
Carrie Wong with her third Top 10 trophy at last year's Star Awards
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong with her third Top 10 trophy at last year's Star Awards

Unsurprisingly, this hot-headed, devil-may-care manner of hers rubbed some folks the wrong way, and while there were some who complained about her behind her back, a few straight talkers pointed out her faults to her face, which she told us she is actually grateful for as it set her on the path to EQ enlightenment.

“Four or five years on, I’ve come to understand not to do unto others what I don’t want them to do unto me; it’s a gradual process and I’m still learning, but I believe I’ve matured since then,” she said, happily confirming that she is much more mild-tempered these days (even her 118 co-stars have noticed the change).

The “new” Carrie also knows how to say sorry, a simple gesture she once shunned, especially if she was convinced she was not at fault.

“A Taiwanese friend told me, ‘You won’t lose a part of your body by apologising, plus, if it solves the problem, why not just do it?’” she shared. “So I’m a lot less resistant to saying sorry when I have to – without compromising on my principles, of course – and in fact, I find it quite easy to do now.”

Growing in skill and in character: now that, in our opinion, is the mark of a true winner.

Read on as Carrie tells us about her ongoing stint in Taiwan (where she is taking acting classes), addresses her supposed feud with Julie Tan (again) and more!

Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang in a still from 'My Friends From Afar'
Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang in a still from 'My Friends From Afar'
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang in a still from 'My Friends From Afar'

Tell us more about what you’re doing in Taiwan.

I’m taking acting classes with Gwen Yao, who is regarded as “the queen of theatre” in Taiwan, until June. Hayley [Woo] and I are living together but we’re not in the same acting course.

How are the classes so far?

The whole process has been very relaxing and fun. Each class has only seven or eight students, and we are taught using very unconventional methods, with a focus on developing our inner world. I’m also learning a lot from my classmates because they are active in showbiz as well, so everyone would share their experiences from working in different countries.

Are you adapting well to life there?

I’m having an absolutely relaxing time there – there’s no work pressure (I’ve not been going for auditions), so I’m living life like a student. I’m also controlling my spending well, especially since Hayley will stop me if I feel like buying something I don’t need. (laughs)

(Continued on next slide: Carrie on cutting out negative influences in her life)

Carrie Wong as a contestant on 'Hey Gorgeous'
Carrie Wong as a contestant on 'Hey Gorgeous'
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong as a contestant on 'Hey Gorgeous'

You mentioned that you try not to let negative comments bother you, but is there anything that would still upset you?

I think the saddest thing is when you’re genuinely trying to change for the better, but people can’t see it. I used to know someone who, despite my best efforts, said to me, “You haven’t changed at all.” I know they meant well, but a simple “You’ve worked hard” or “I can see you’re trying” would have encouraged me. That left me quite disappointed.

What did you do about it?

I started distancing myself from that person because there was too much negativity; I don’t want to constantly be made to think I’m never good enough. Instead, I will continue working hard to improve myself with a positive mentality.

Your motto was “grab the moment or let it pass”. What’s your attitude towards life now?

I think that as an actor, the present is the most important thing. You shouldn’t let your fears about the future, and things that have not happened, stop you from doing what you want to do now.

(Continued on next slide: Carrie gets real about dating rumours and rivalries)

Julie Tan and Carrie Wong at Star Awards 2015
Julie Tan and Carrie Wong at Star Awards 2015
10 Apr 2018

Julie Tan and Carrie Wong at Star Awards 2015

You’ve been romantically linked to your frequent co-star Aloysius Pang numerous times. What are your thoughts on that?

A lot of people have asked me about that – even directors and crew members – but there was never anything between us. I’ve become rather blasé about such rumours because I understand that it’s completely normal for people to be curious about the love lives of public figures.

There was a recent news article about how you and Julie Tan don’t get along…

I don’t understand, how many times must people bring this up? (laughs) It’s such an old issue, let’s not talk about it anymore. That interview was supposedly about me going to Taiwan, but somehow ended up focusing on my relationship with Julie. I was wondering how it got there. (laughs)

Comparisons in showbiz are inevitable, but in terms of healthy competition, who do you see as your “rival”?

I see most of my co-stars as older siblings and role models. Recently, I’ve been working with Paige Chua quite often, and she’s someone I would like to learn a lot from because she’s very serious about her work, but is actually a very cute and fun person on the inside. I love to tease her and make her laugh! Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside her head because it seems so different from her outward appearance.

Carrie Wong with her first Top 10 trophy at Star Awards 2015
Carrie Wong with her first Top 10 trophy at Star Awards 2015
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong with her first Top 10 trophy at Star Awards 2015

Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang
Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang

Carrie Wong and Rui En in a scene from 'Against The Tide'
Carrie Wong and Rui En in a scene from 'Against The Tide'
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong and Rui En in a scene from 'Against The Tide'

Carrie Wong and James Seah in a scene from 'Against The Tide'
Carrie Wong and James Seah in a scene from 'Against The Tide'
10 Apr 2018

Carrie Wong and James Seah in a scene from 'Against The Tide'

Watch past episodes of My Friends from Afar on Toggle.

Stay tuned to Toggle for more interviews with the first-time Star Awards acting nominees!

Related:
Carrie Wong bags first Star Awards Best Actress nomination
Paige Chua conquers the WWW as the meme queen of Channel 8

Visit the official Star Awards 2018 microsite for more information.

Catch the Star Awards 2018 – Arrival of Artistes on April 22, Sunday, 4.30pm on Toggle.
Catch the 2018 Star Awards ceremony LIVE on April 22, Sunday, 7pm on Channel 8/U or Toggle.
Catch the 2018 Star Awards Post Show Party LIVE on April 22, Sunday, 10.30pm on Channel 8/U or Toggle.

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