Catching up with TV comeback queen Florence Tan

The actress is making her long-awaited return to Singapore TV screens in Channel 8’s ‘Mind Matters’, along with singer Teresa Tseng

Florence Tan, Teresa Tseng
Florence Tan, Teresa Tseng
04 Jul 2017

Florence Tan, Teresa Tseng

Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Sarah Tay

Former Campus SuperStar runner-up and singer Teresa Tseng, who is now based in her home country Taiwan, recently had an amusing encounter with her Let’s Play Love co-star Romeo Tan at the Mediacorp Campus.

“He stared at me for a very long time before finally recognising me,” she recounted to us, chuckling. “He was probably confused at first because of my short hair.”

Teresa returned to Singapore last week and will remain here for the next three months to film Mind Matters, her first acting gig since 2011’s Let’s Play Love, a xinmsn web series. At yesterday’s lensing ceremony, the 26-year-old told us that she chopped off her long locks to exude a more mature vibe as an older psychiatrist.

Also making her Channel 8 comeback – 12 years after her last major appearance in Zero to Hero and five years after her cameo in Joys of Life – is Star Search 1997 female champion Florence Tan. The Malaysian-born, Hong-Kong based actress reportedly turned down two high-paying gigs in China to accept the role of a boutique salesperson with bipolar disorder.

“I’ve never played this type of character before so I wanted to challenge myself,” explained the 40-year-old, who has 8-year-old twin daughters with her Taiwanese businessman husband. “I have to do a lot of homework to prepare, so I’ve been observing people and doing research on the internet; I hope to be able to accurately portray someone with this condition.”

Mind Matters marks the fourth onscreen collaboration between Florence and Qi Yuwu (after Bukit Ho Swee and two seasons of My Genie). “I’m thrilled to be working with him again,” she said. “It’s been a while since we met, and I think [his wife] Joanne Peh has really helped him to open up – he’s very quiet at first, but once he starts talking, he won’t stop! (laughs)”

On the other hand, it is Teresa’s first time sharing the screen with Yuwu, whom she will be romantically involved with in the drama. “I’m a little nervous about it,” she admitted. “I have to look at him as if he is the man I love most in the world.”

Read on for more from our catch-up sessions with Florence and Teresa!

Florence Tan
Florence Tan
04 Jul 2017

Florence Tan

Toggle: What took you so long to make your Singapore acting comeback?
Florence: You’d have to ask the TV station why they waited 12 years to invite me back! (laughs) I suppose it was hard to work things out because I was usually busy filming in China.

Do you often keep in touch with Singapore artistes?
Yes, I keep in touch with people like May Phua, Pan Ling Ling, Hong Hui Fang, Zheng Ge Ping and Chew Chor Meng. Actually I come back every two to three months or so because I have relatives here.

How long will you be in Singapore for this drama, and will your family come and visit you?
I’ll be back for two months, and my two daughters will come and stay with me in August during their summer vacation. My husband will also come, but it’s to run a marathon, not to see me – we’ve already been married for 11 years! (laughs)

What are your daughters like in school?
The older one is more artistically inclined and really wants to be class monitor. She was so mad when she wasn’t picked for the job, and kept criticising the class monitor. (laughs)

The younger one has a very good memory, but isn’t particularly fond of studying. She really revels in her position as the little sister: she’s mischievous and likes to act spoiled. They’re totally different from one another.

Would you allow them to pursue a career in showbiz?
We’re not pushing them in that direction. At the moment we just want them to continue going to school and develop their own interests

Does that mean you’ll never join those popular parent-children reality shows with them?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I’m not entirely against it. I don’t post many of their pictures of social media, but I wouldn’t say I’m super secretive about them either.

What’s next for you after this?
I may accept a role in a Hunan TV drama, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Teresa Tseng
Teresa Tseng
04 Jul 2017

Teresa Tseng

Toggle: How did you get involved with Mind Matters?
Teresa: I have been getting a lot of offers from Mediacorp but I was always too busy flying around. This time, I happened to have a break between preparations for my second album, so I could take it up.

Tell us more about your role and why you decided to accept it.
I play a recovered bulimic who relapses after facing some difficulties in her life. I accepted the role because I feel like this will be a very inspirational drama that could hopefully change any negative perceptions of mental patients.

You mentioned that you’re working on a second album. How’s that coming along?
I’m still in the midst of collecting songs and recording, and I’m also trying my hand at writing.

Will there be any notable guest appearances on the record?
Well, I hope to have the chance to work with many handsome and beautiful singers. (laughs) So far I haven’t planned any collaborations, but now that I’m back in Singapore, perhaps I can consider working with some of the local musicians. Perhaps JJ Lin?

Moving forward, would you want to focus more on singing or acting?
As long as I am given the opportunity, I will be happy to participate in any creative field, whichever it is.

Since you’ve been so busy, have you managed to find time to date?
(laughs) I’m just going to let nature take its course. Love is not something that can be forced, and my parents haven’t been rushing me to get into a relationship either. I’m keeping my heart and mind open, but I’m not in a hurry.

The cast of 'Mind Matters'
The cast of 'Mind Matters'
04 Jul 2017

The cast of 'Mind Matters'

Left to right: Ben Yeo, Shane Pow, Denise Camillia Tan, Teresa Tseng, Jesseca Liu, Ivan Lo, Qi Yuwu, Florence Tan, Chen Tianwen

Jesseca Liu and Qi Yuwu are reunited on screen again after 13 years
Jesseca Liu and Qi Yuwu are reunited on screen again after 13 years
04 Jul 2017

Jesseca Liu and Qi Yuwu are reunited on screen again after 13 years

Their last drama together was The Champion.

Florence Tan's good friend Pan Lingling, who was in the building, dropped by to say hello
Florence Tan's good friend Pan Lingling, who was in the building, dropped by to say hello
04 Jul 2017

Florence Tan's good friend Pan Lingling, who was in the building, dropped by to say hello

Florence Tan has a bit of cheeky fun with the giant clapboard
Florence Tan has a bit of cheeky fun with the giant clapboard
04 Jul 2017

Florence Tan has a bit of cheeky fun with the giant clapboard

Ivan Lo will play the 14-year-old son of Jesseca Liu's character
Ivan Lo will play the 14-year-old son of Jesseca Liu's character
04 Jul 2017

Ivan Lo will play the 14-year-old son of Jesseca Liu's character

The cast shares a laugh during the lensing ceremony
The cast shares a laugh during the lensing ceremony
04 Jul 2017

The cast shares a laugh during the lensing ceremony

The cast, crew and creators of 'Mind Matters'
The cast, crew and creators of 'Mind Matters'
04 Jul 2017

The cast, crew and creators of 'Mind Matters'

Mind Matters debuts on January 1, 2018, 9pm on Channel 8.

Watch:
Which artiste could not recognise Teresa Tseng at first?

Related:
Denise Camillia Tan: A new face to watch on Channel 8
BEHIND THE ‘GRAM: Qi Yuwu exposes Baby Qi’s quirks

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