The cast of ‘Say Cheese’ on modern dating habits

What’s their take on May-December romances, cohabitation and pre-marital sex?

The cast of Channel 8 drama 'Say Cheese'
The cast of Channel 8 drama 'Say Cheese'
09 Mar 2018

The cast of Channel 8 drama 'Say Cheese'

Photos: Elis Ching, Lee Zi Jin
Video: Aaron Ho

“All generations have similar values; they just express them differently” is our quote of choice to describe up and coming Channel 8 drama Say Cheese, which features a family overcoming their generation gaps for the family business – an established 80-year-old photography studio. The series will also see the characters exploring their moral and value boundaries when faced with loved ones who challenge those beliefs.

At the drama’s lensing ceremony yesterday, we caught up with the cast and asked them to get candid about their boundaries—as individuals or parents—when it comes to affairs of the heart - how flexible and receptive are they when it comes to May-December relationships, and what’s their opinion towards shotgun marriages and cohabitation? How conservative or liberal are they? Read on for more.

Zong Zijie
Zong Zijie
09 Mar 2018

Zong Zijie

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I’m a 2.5. Right in the middle.

Are you open to cohabitation?
Well by principle, I don't think it's right, but if it's up to me, I'll do it. Even so, that'll only happen two to three years into the relationship, when we (our relationship) becomes more stable. It's a good way to know the other person better.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
By principle, I don't think it's right. This is what my mother has taught me since I was young. There's a 50 percent chance of it happening to me, but the most important thing is to practice safe sex. If an accident happens [and the girl gets pregnant], then the most important thing is to take responsibility.

What’s your take on a shotgun wedding (a wedding arranged due to unintended pregnancy)?
I don't approve of this, I don't think it's right. To avoid this problem altogether, don't do anything before marriage! Just wait (until after marriage) and don't do anything rash! (chuckles)

How open are you to May-December relationships (a romantic relationship between two people with considerable age difference)?
In general, I like older women more. I’ve dated someone who was one year older than me before. I like it when girls are independent, because I’m caught up with work and can’t accompany her often. That’s why I think having a more mature partner will make it less taxing on both of us.

Even though I'm open to an age gap in the relationship, it shouldn’t be excessive. If the age difference is too big, one person may be more mature than the other. The amount of time we have with each other will also be limited. I can accept girls who are two to three years younger than me. If they are older, I'm okay even if she is 12 years older.

Chen Li Ping
Chen Li Ping
09 Mar 2018

Chen Li Ping

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I feel I am quite open-minded, so probably a high score of 4.

As a mother, what’s your stand on cohabitation?
Your question leaves me stumped! I thought of my children right away, but there seems to be a different standard when it involves our flesh and blood. I do feel the most important thing is the feeling between a couple, and I know there are different perspectives on marriage now. However, I’m still reserved when it comes to this - I realise I shouldn’t have given myself such a high score earlier (laughs), I guess this is why I didn’t give myself a 5.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
This is so common now. I don’t think anyone else have a say in it except the couple.  It all depends on the individual’s mindset, personality and values. It also depends on their feelings for each other after getting together.

How open are you to May-December relationships?
Generally, I find it okay, but if it goes to the extent of being 30 to 40 years apart, then I think it’s funny. Ultimately, it all boils down to whether the younger person has a mature mindset, and I think many younger people now do.

Cynthia Koh
Cynthia Koh
09 Mar 2018

Cynthia Koh

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
This is difficult…I think I am still quite traditional in my thinking, so I’m a 3.

Are you open to cohabitation?
I am for it. One of my friends married their other half without cohabiting, and eventually ended up in a divorce because their lifestyles don’t match. I think it’s good to live together before marriage so that you can learn and understand each other’s living habits.  Marriage is forever, it’ll be hard to live together if you can’t put up with or accept the other person’s way of living.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
This is liberty lah. I think the majority of people are like this now?  

What’s your take on shotgun weddings?
For the sake of the little unborn one, I think it’s acceptable. I find it worse to give up on the child altogether. This is also getting more common lately. However, if the girl is really young, and has not turned 21 for instance, then I will think on the practical side and believes she should consider her future.

How open are you to May-December relationships?
No! Cannot! (Haven’t you read the news of a young woman dating a man who is 60 years older than her?). She has his life and then you are dying already (laughs). I’m sorry, but give her her life! (What about dating a younger man?) That works, one of my ex-boyfriends was younger than me by two years. I’m young at heart, so I’ll be bored to death if I date a young guy who has an old-fashioned way of thinking. I like to look for new food places, new shopping spots and travel, so if the other party tells me “Don’t want lah, I want to chill at home”, I’ll get very sian.

Rayson Tan
Rayson Tan
09 Mar 2018

Rayson Tan

.On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I believe I’m half of each, so I’m a 2.5.

Will you allow your son to cohabit?
Strictly speaking, no. I’m reserved when it comes to my son.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
That’s not too good. There are rules to such things, and marriage comes first. My son is in a boys’ school, so we don't normally talk about this. For now, I want him to study hard and make lots of friends, and I don't encourage him to be in a romantic relationship now. The good thing is, we have a good father and son relationship, and he listens to me too. He also shares about his school life with me (more than to his wife Chen Li Ping) because we are both guys. However, he has yet to ask me about girls.

How open are you to May-December relationships?
If the age gap is too big, it’s strange, but if the girl is only a couple years older than him, it’s okay, as long as he likes her. If he ends up liking someone a generation older than him, I will discourage him because I don’t feel they’ll be suited for each other.

Hong Hui Fang
Hong Hui Fang
09 Mar 2018

Hong Hui Fang

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I’m half-half so a 2.5. I’m open-minded at times when I believe I should be, but other times, I’m conservative to a tee.

Will you allow your children to cohabit with their partners?
It’s not a problem at all. What’s the problem? They are living together, not getting married. If they marry and realise they don’t match, they will end up in a divorce. If they live together and realise they don’t match, they can go their separate ways easier without the hassle of paperwork.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
(Sighs) This practice is in style now… if it can’t be helped, then we can only accept it. However, if you can control it (your urges), then you should try your hardest to do so.

What’s your take on shotgun weddings?
If the deed is done, and a baby is involved, then they will have to accept it as it is. Since you can’t just put the baby aside, they should go ahead (with the marriage).

How open are you to May-December relationships?
If the younger person can endure that, then by all means… (what if your son is dating a woman who’s older than him?) Well that’s my relationship with my husband as well (FYI: Hui Fang is four years older than her husband, local actor Zheng Ge Ping), so I'll say sure, no problem!

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
09 Mar 2018

Romeo Tan

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I’m a 2 as I’m more on the conservative side.

Are you open to cohabitation?
I’m okay. I believe my parents indirectly influenced my opinion, especially if they are traditional. However, from what I understand, they are open to this idea. For a couple that is already comfortable with each other, I think cohabitation is a good way for them to better understand each other’s personality.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
I think this happens to most people. I find this normal.

What’s your take on shotgun weddings?
This is a no. From a girl’s point of view, marriage is the most important time in her life. However, if she is pregnant, I don’t think it’ll be her most beautiful moment. I’m more conservative when it comes to maintaining the natural order, whereby children only comes after marriage.

How open are you to May-December relationships?
I’m okay if the girl is slightly older than the guy, at a maximum age gap of about five to six years.  Ok, maybe eight years is fine too.

Joanne Peh
Joanne Peh
09 Mar 2018

Joanne Peh

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I’d give myself a 3 – an average figure.

Will you allow Baby Qi to cohabit when she turns 20?
I think there's more than one ways to look at it. It depends on whether I like the guy, and if I think they have a future together. If it's a stable and healthy marriage with wedding in talks, I think it's alright.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
I would say this is out of my control. However if it really happens to my daughter, I will support her.

As a mother, how open are you to your child being in a May-December relationship?
I don't think age is the main issue here. There's a reason the relationship started, so I will try and understand what she thinks, and find out what she likes about him. As long as it's reasonable, I don't see a problem.

Richard Low
Richard Low
09 Mar 2018

Richard Low

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
When I was in my 30s and 40s, I was very conservative. Now that I’m in my 60s, I think I’m a 4.5.

Will you allow your children to cohabit with their partners?
Of course. There’s nothing bad about it. A marriage certificate doesn’t mean anything if the couple doesn’t work out. If a cohabiting couple is happy together, and shows each other love and care, it’s all good.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
This is very common now, and I’m not saying this to prove how open-minded I am! There are so many examples of people doing this, and also cases of foreign celebrities who only want their children without being in a relationship with their father.

What’s your take on shotgun weddings?
I have no qualms about it. In fact, there are so many girls who have kids before getting married. At this point in time when a child is involved, you can’t possibly ask her to get an abortion. You can’t push the blame, or ask the guy to pay the price. Since the problem has surfaced, you need to find a solution. I once came across news that a guy was sent to jail after hitting the guy who got his sister pregnant – how does that solve anything?

As a father, how open are you to your child being in a May-December relationship?
(if the other party is 70-years-old) I can’t accept this. I don’t accept everything. This is a bad arrangement, and there won’t be a happy ending. At 70, even if we assume that he has the strength to take care of his young wife, how much longer can he live? The wife will be widowed soon. On top of that, will the girl’s parents even accept the relationship if the guy is older than them?

Kimberly Chia
Kimberly Chia
09 Mar 2018

Kimberly Chia

On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I'll play safe so I’ll give myself a 3.

Are you open to cohabitation?
I don't really think much about this, because I enjoy staying with my parents. I'm for it if it helps me understand the other person better, because that's a good thing! It'll be too late if you realise after marriage that you are not suited for each other.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
It differs between people, but personally, I won't do it. It's not because I'll bear the short end of the stick, but I would not consider it because I want to focus on my work and establish a stable career. If other girls want to have a baby, and can take responsibility, I think there's nothing wrong with that.

What’s your take on shotgun weddings?
I won't do it, and I won't judge others for doing so. That may be the way they want to live their lives.

How open are you to May-December relationships?
I don't think I’ll fall for a guy younger than me. Boys mature later, and I prefer a more mature person. If the younger guy has a mature mindset, I’ll be open to pursuing a relationship. I’m just worried I’ll age a lot faster!

Zen Chong
Zen Chong
09 Mar 2018

Zen Chong


On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being the most open-minded, where do you stand?
I consider myself to be on the conservative side, so I’m a 1 or a 1.5.

Will you allow your children to cohabit?
No, not with the opposite gender! If it’s my son it’s okay, but not my daughter. I feel she will be on the losing end of the relationship, whereas my son will get to learn from the experience. If the girl’s family is open to the idea, then I won’t stop my son from doing so too.

What’s your take on premarital sex?
I don’t approve of this as well.

Joanne and Richard play father and daughter in the series
Joanne and Richard play father and daughter in the series
09 Mar 2018

Joanne and Richard play father and daughter in the series

Romeo and Li Ping play mother and son for the third time
Romeo and Li Ping play mother and son for the third time
09 Mar 2018

Romeo and Li Ping play mother and son for the third time

Zijie and Kimberly play a third-gen couple in the series
Zijie and Kimberly play a third-gen couple in the series
09 Mar 2018

Zijie and Kimberly play a third-gen couple in the series

Cutting the camera-shaped cake together
Cutting the camera-shaped cake together
09 Mar 2018

Cutting the camera-shaped cake together

Catch Say Cheese from Aug 6, 9pm on Channel 8.

WATCH: How protective are Rayson Tan and Chen Li Ping over their son?

Related:
Kimberly Chia’s turbulent times as an SQ Girl
Insta-buzz: What the stars were up to this week
Second-gen stars’ fortunes in the Year of the Dog

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