Catching up with long-lost faces of Channel 8

‘Gifted’ brings the likes of Fiona Xie, Michelle Chia and more back to the local drama scene

Fiona Xie, Elvin Ng, Michelle Chia, Dawn Yeoh
Fiona Xie, Elvin Ng, Michelle Chia, Dawn Yeoh
05 Jul 2018

Fiona Xie, Elvin Ng, Michelle Chia, Dawn Yeoh

Photos: Tammi Tan, Channel 8
Video: Goh Wen Kai

After slight delays in production and months of filming in Malaysia, Channel 8 thriller Gifted is finally set to hit local television screens next Monday (July 9).

For fans of faces not frequently seen on television (or at least, Channel 8), the long wait will turn out to be worth it, as the 20-episode series assembles a stellar cast of stars we haven’t seen in a while: there’s Fiona Xie, Michelle Chia, Dawn Yeoh, Chen Xiu Huan (did you know she said yes to this project before Fifty and Fabulous?) and Julian Hee (he was originally scheduled to attend the press conference but couldn’t make it at the last minute). This also marks Elvin Ng’s return to the 9pm slot after taking on an array of other gigs.

Read on for our brief catch-up sessions with some of the stars at the press conference!

Fiona Xie was “tricked” into joining the cast of ‘Gifted’?
Fiona Xie was “tricked” into joining the cast of ‘Gifted’?
05 Jul 2018

Fiona Xie was “tricked” into joining the cast of ‘Gifted’?

Coming out of the longest Channel 8 hiatus (after 10 years, to be exact) is the bubbly 36-year-old actress, whose last series on the network was 2008’s Just in Singapore. She returned to acting on Channel 5’s Left Behind two years ago and has a small role in the highly anticipated Crazy Rich Asians silver screen adaptation, but this was her first time having to master Mandarin dialogue in a while.

Good timing played a part in Fiona agreeing to join the cast of Gifted, as was the fact that the show would be shot in Kuala Lumpur, a city she fell in love with while filming Crazy Rich Asians there. However, she quipped that she was “tricked” by the show’s executive producer, as well as her good friend-slash-co-star Zhang Yao Dong, about supposedly not having that many lines, only to open the script and discover quite the opposite.

“I spent every day memorising scripts, eating and filming,” she recalled. Even then, she admitted to struggling with her lines on set, but it was a hurdle she easily overcame with lots of help and support. “My Chinese isn’t the best but everyone kept encouraging me; once, the director pulled me aside and said, ‘You are a good actress, you can do it, jia you!’ and that really touched me.”

Describing her character as a strong, sexy and aggressive woman who isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get what she wants, Fiona said that she isn’t nervous about the public reaction to her comeback. “If I get hate, it means I did a good job!” she chuckled.

Michelle Chia says remarriage is “not a must”
Michelle Chia says remarriage is “not a must”
05 Jul 2018

Michelle Chia says remarriage is “not a must”

Audiences last saw Michelle on TV in a supporting role on 2016’s The Queen, but it’s been six years since she took on a leading role. The 42-year-old, who plays twin sisters in Gifted, claimed that she agreed to the project as her storylines reminded her of a Korean drama, thanks to the part where one of her characters has a non-face-to-face romance with a secret admirer.

In real life, however, her significant other is no secret – at least, to her it isn’t. “It’s for me to know but not for you to find out!” she said, laughing, when we tried to probe her for more details about her mystery man.

What she was willing to tell us was that her beau is totally fine with her high-profile profession. “No matter who I’m with, they have to accept me for who I am and what I love to do,” she stated. “If he wasn’t comfortable with my career, then we would never even be together.”

She also shared that tying the knot for the second time (she was married to fellow actor Shaun Chen for two years before they divorced in 2011) is “not a must” as she’s happy with the way things are. “I used to really want to get married and have babies, but now all I want is to enjoy life,” she said, although she is also willing to “let nature take its course”.

Michelle also seems to have ruled out starting a family, believing that “the time has passed” for it. “By the time my child has finished his or her studies, I would be an old woman!”

What about adopting an older kid? “Oh wow, you need to have a very, very, very big heart for that,” she said. “I’m worried about how I would treat them – would I be even angrier when they misbehave? It takes extreme selflessness to be able to accept someone else’s child.”

Dawn Yeoh needs to widen her social circle to find love
Dawn Yeoh needs to widen her social circle to find love
05 Jul 2018

Dawn Yeoh needs to widen her social circle to find love

“She’s a simple character whose choices are all motivated by love, which I find is very stupid” was the candid way Dawn, whose last TV appearance was on long-form drama Peace and Prosperity, described her role. “Women can’t be like that!” she chortled.

This philosophy of not being primarily led by romance seems to apply to her personal life: while the 32-year-old would be happy to find that special someone in her life, she admitted that she hasn’t exactly been going out of her way to look for him, other than making an effort to get to know more people.

“Most of my friends are women – I could probably count how many close male friends I have on one hand!” she shared. “It’s a big problem; I need to widen my social circle.”

However, she clarified that she’s not facing any pressure to settle down, whether from her parents or herself. “I’m fine with my current status,” she said. “I am talking to people and hopefully, I’ll eventually find someone who will make me even happier than I already am. If there’s someone, I’ll let nature take its course, but if not, I’ll still be happy!”

All the best, Dawn, and we’re waiting for good news.

Zhang Yao Dong’s injury from filming ‘Gifted’ has yet to fully heal
Zhang Yao Dong’s injury from filming ‘Gifted’ has yet to fully heal
05 Jul 2018

Zhang Yao Dong’s injury from filming ‘Gifted’ has yet to fully heal

With all that intense action we saw in the highlight reel that was played during the press conference, we weren’t all that surprised when Yao Dong reported that he suffered from an elbow injury last year that still has not completely recovered until today (ouch).

The 40-year-old Malaysian-born actor believes he hurt himself while shooting one of his many fighting scenes. He had an X-ray at a hospital and received steroid injections to relieve the pain, but the injury flared up again when he was filming more physically demanding scenes for Blessings 2.

Another scene from Gifted that left an impression on Yao Dong was one where he had to save someone from a kidnapping by jumping onto the back of a lorry and fighting off several assailants. Sounds straightforward on the surface, but the combination of factors – from the cramped space to the stuffy, dusty air to the spinning movements of the vehicle – made poor Yao Dong dizzy and on the urge of throwing up.

To make matters worse, they had to do four takes, and each time, everyone was in danger of falling off the truck. Thankfully, everyone emerged from the ordeal in one piece, and we viewers should be getting quite the spectacular action-packed visual treat when that sequence airs.

Elvin Ng
Elvin Ng
05 Jul 2018

Elvin Ng

Gifted marks Elvin's return to the 9pm Channel 8 slot after taking on an array of other projects.

The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference
The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference
05 Jul 2018

The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference

The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference
The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference
05 Jul 2018

The cast of 'Gifted' at the press conference

Fiona Xie, Chen Xiu Huan and Hong Hui Fang seem very amused by something Michelle Chia said
Fiona Xie, Chen Xiu Huan and Hong Hui Fang seem very amused by something Michelle Chia said
05 Jul 2018

Fiona Xie, Chen Xiu Huan and Hong Hui Fang seem very amused by something Michelle Chia said

The cast shares a laugh at the press conference
The cast shares a laugh at the press conference
05 Jul 2018

The cast shares a laugh at the press conference

Dawn Yeoh and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'
Dawn Yeoh and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'
05 Jul 2018

Dawn Yeoh and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'

Zhang Yao Dong and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'
Zhang Yao Dong and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'
05 Jul 2018

Zhang Yao Dong and Elvin Ng in a still from 'Gifted'

Michelle Chia in a still from 'Gifted'
Michelle Chia in a still from 'Gifted'
05 Jul 2018

Michelle Chia in a still from 'Gifted'

Gifted premieres July 9, 9pm on Channel 8.

Watch:
Were these actresses tricked into coming back to act?

Related:
Tong Bing Yu gushes about “upgraded” second proposal

Report a problem