The PA diaries of Xiang Yun’s son, Chen Yixi

Rule #1: Make sure you remember the rundown by heart and always have the right outfits on standby

A day in the life of a PA, according to Chen Yixi
A day in the life of a PA, according to Chen Yixi
03 Nov 2016

A day in the life of a PA, according to Chen Yixi

Video: Foong Mien Shi

DIRECT FROM MALAYSIA: Channel 8 fans who have been fervently following the social media updates of long-running series Peace and Prosperity should find Chen Yixi a familiar figure.

The 25-year-old, whose mum is none other than lead actress of the drama, Xiang Yun, stepped up as her personal assistant (PA) after graduating from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore’s School of Art, Design and Media in July. He even travelled alongside the cast and crew when the production filmed its final scenes on board Star Cruise Aquarius in end August.

Like any other regular assistant, he had to know the production rundown by heart and attend to her every need on set— from fetching water and the right outfits to taking BTS (behind-the-scenes) pictures of his “boss”.

It pays to be prompt and efficient in this line of work, says Yixi, during an interview with Toggle. “A couple of times my mum’s like: ‘No, not good enough, but it’s fun lah. The most important thing I learned from this is witnessing and learning how a team, from the PAs to the producers and the crew, should function.”

Having acted and starred in a handful of projects himself, including xinmsn’s web series i.Rock and Echoing Love, a short film project produced by his dad Edmund Chen, Yixi is familiar with drama productions, plus the old Mediacorp campus on Caldecott Hill counts as his childhood playground too, having accompanied his mum to work a couple of times as a kid, said the NTU grad. “But that was 15 years ago? So now I’m back to experience this with her in a different setting, and as a 25-year-old individual I get to actually help her instead of being a burden,” he quipped.

Currently working in a Japanese gaming company, Yixi, who also recently inked a talent contract with The Celebrity Agency, shared that he is keeping his options open and intends to dabble in acting should the opportunity arise, like his small role in Wonder Boy, Dick Lee’s semi-autobiography film as a band member which required him to sing, play the guitar and cut his hair razor short.

So, the billion dollar question – who will be Yixi’s PA on the movie set? “Me, myself and I,” he laughed in reply.

What does it take to be Xiang Yun’s PA? Read on to find out more in this gallery.

The PA’s job: Tote a bag filled with essentials
The PA’s job: Tote a bag filled with essentials
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Tote a bag filled with essentials

See that purple shoulder bag that Yixi’s wearing on top of his personal backpack? That contains all the “filming essentials” that Xiang Yun needs – rundowns, scripts, outfits, biscuits and even bottled water. Every PA needs a bag like this.

The PA’s job: Have the right outfit on standby for scene changes
The PA’s job: Have the right outfit on standby for scene changes
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Have the right outfit on standby for scene changes

Said Yixi, “Some PAs I spoke to have memorised all their rundowns and remember when what scene takes place, what shirt to wear etc. [Filming does not take place in a chronological order] so you need to remember to link certain scenes together via a particular shirt.”

The PA’s job: Have the script on standby for rehearsals
The PA’s job: Have the script on standby for rehearsals
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Have the script on standby for rehearsals

Whenever Xiang Yun hollers for ‘Chen Xi’ (she still calls him by his birth name, he was later renamed as Chen Yixi), you know there’s something she needs from the purple bag. In this instance, he’s handing her the script for a particular episode to rehearse lines with Marcus Chin, who plays her brother-in-law in the drama.

The PA’s job: Watch over belongings
The PA’s job: Watch over belongings
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Watch over belongings

With a lean crew on board the cruise, PAs are often roped in to help out whenever possible. For one particular scene filmed in the cruise’s duty free shop, members of the public were free to roam around and shop as filming took place. To allow the actors to fully concentrate and work with a peace of mind, Yixi doubled up as ‘guardian of the bags’ and helped to keep an eye out for the crew’s precious belongings while the cameras rolled.

The PA’s job: Ad-hoc photographer
The PA’s job: Ad-hoc photographer
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Ad-hoc photographer

Photo-taking is part and parcel of a PA’s duties as they have easy access to BTS happenings on set and are able to capture moments not shown on TV, like this scene of the Peace & Prosperity men getting ready for a dip in the pool. 

The PA’s job: Indulge in occasional selfies with the ‘boss’
The PA’s job: Indulge in occasional selfies with the ‘boss’
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s job: Indulge in occasional selfies with the ‘boss’

Perks of the job. ‘nuff said.

The PA’s (other) job: Complete his artwork on nooks and crannies in the old Mediacorp campus
The PA’s (other) job: Complete his artwork on nooks and crannies in the old Mediacorp campus
03 Nov 2016

The PA’s (other) job: Complete his artwork on nooks and crannies in the old Mediacorp campus

When mum’s busy filming a scene that doesn’t require him on standby, the computer graphics artist whips out his trusty notebook and starts painting or sketching away – adding colour and texture to drawings of certain meaningful spaces and objects spotted at the old Mediacorp campus. You can find more of his completed artworks here. 

His boss’ verdict at the end of his PA stint: 90/100
His boss’ verdict at the end of his PA stint: 90/100
03 Nov 2016

His boss’ verdict at the end of his PA stint: 90/100

“He’s very responsible,” chuckled Xiang Yun, “I’d give him 90 out of 100 because there’s room for improvement! I really cherish every second spent with him on set because he’d be entering his next phase in life now, after graduating from university, plus he’s going to start work soon too. He’s an adult and has his own space, so I really appreciate the time spent together despite it being tough because he has to start work on the next day after returning to Singapore.” 

WATCH: How did Yixi fare as Xiang Yun's assistant?

Peace and Prosperity airs weeknights, 7.30 pm on Channel 8. Catch up on past episodes of Peace and Prosperity and or watch it on Toggle-It-First.

Related:
How Julie Tan bonds with her Peace and Prosperity sisters
Belinda Lee yearns for love this year

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