Photos: Angie Ng
In the past year, the new TV darling that anyone on the local showbiz radar would have talked about is none other than Carrie Wong.
After coming in as runner-up on ChU’s Hey Gorgeous 2013, Carrie joined MediaCorp on a five-year contract in November that year.
As luck would have it, the aspiring actress scored her first role in Ch8 drama Against The Tide where she played alongside her long-time idols Christopher Lee and Rui En.
Opportunities continued knocking on Carrie’s door.
She first tasted fame with her role as “Tang Shui Mei” in The Journey: Tumultuous Times which earned her double nominations (Best Newcomer and Best Supporting Actress) at Star Awards 2015. Just one year after entering the industry, the up-and-coming starlet bagged her first Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste trophy, an impressive feat that her peers could only dream of.
With increased exposure and popularity inevitably comes gossip and speculation, especially for the budding thespian who prefers to “be herself”. Admitting that she has been pampered by her parents all her life, Carrie let on that her straightforward personality has drawn both praise and criticism.
“It really is about personal judgement. People who accept your frankness will think you are being real, but those who don’t will label you as arrogant,” she said. “I don’t like to beat about the bush. When something is right or wrong, I will voice it out. That’s the kind of image I want to present.”
While some may say that the young lass is threading a fine line between confidence and cockiness, Carrie emphasised that she has never considered herself better than most people, but she is someone who would accomplish her goals when she sets them.
At the age of 21, Carrie seems to have it all: height (175 cm), looks, a loving family and a fast-rising showbiz career. But before her meteoric rise to stardom, the actress was once the last in class, the underage party animal and a romance silencer…
Read on for more never-been-told stories of Carrie’s life before and after she found fame.
She always gets her way but she has learned that there are rules in the game
A self-professed spoilt kid, Carrie, the only child in her family, has always gotten things done her way. The culture shock that she experienced after joining showbiz, however, has taught the 21-year-old that there are unspoken rules to play by in this industry.
Shortly after becoming an artiste, Carrie was reminded by her manager to watch her attitude and speech, particularly towards her seniors. On her own, the young star has started to realise the importance of human relations in the industry and how her candidness can be offensive to some.
“An artiste’s success is not only accredited to his own hard work, but also the help and support from the team around him. I cannot be so self-centred,” she shared.
She broke down in tears over criticism
Speaking on her smooth-sailing career, Carrie pointed out that all the roles she had landed so far did not “simply drop from the sky” – she had to earn them via auditions.
“I am very lucky indeed. But I believe everyone is given the same chance. When an opportunity is given to you, you have to grab it. If you really want something, you need to think of ways to get it,” the actress declared.
For her first major project Against The Tide, Carrie spent days reading the script and interpreting the complex character. But it seemed that her efforts were not good enough.
“I heard from a friend that the director was not satisfied with my performance. In the first place, I didn’t have much confidence as I was just a newbie. I did all my homework and gave my very best, but the first feedback I received was so negative,” she cried.
The actress dealt with the blow by breaking down in MediaCorp's wardrobe department alone. When she finally picked herself up, she had to act like her eyes were swollen from a running nose before heading for an outdoor shoot. “I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to,” Carrie said, adding that the incident strengthened her determination to prove her critics wrong.
She deems getting recognised on the streets as a mark of achievement
The overwhelming response “Tang Shui Mei” received from viewers took Carrie by surprise. Even though she had a heavy role in Against The Tide, it was not until The Journey: Tumultuous Times that the actress started getting recognised on the streets.
“I could feel the difference, just from the aunties’ acknowledgement when I buy dinner at the hawker centre,” she laughed. “When nine out of ten people are able to call out my name, that would be the moment I know I’ve made it.”
… But she is keeping her feet on the ground
Despite having a remarkable start, Carrie reckons that she is still a long way from stardom. But she certainly is on the right path, having already bought her first car with her own paycheck. We can also expect to see more of the actress on TV as she has recently landed her first endorsement deal with Nestlé.
At the moment, the starlet is not quite ready to take on a leading role. “As the female lead, you not only have to act well, but also bear the weight of the ratings,” she thought aloud.
Giving herself five years to reach her goal, the ambitious girl has her eyes on the “Best Actress” trophy. While popularity awards are desirable, it is even more gratifying for an actress to be recognised for her craft, in Carrie’s opinion.
She couldn’t speak English until she entered primary school
Growing up in a Mandarin-speaking family, Carrie’s childhood reads mostly comprised of reknowned Chinese author Jin Yong’s novels. Before she entered primary school, the glib talker could barely articulate in English.
Contrary to her mature disposition today, Carrie used to be a problem student who was always ranked among the last in class. Back then, she honestly believed the only thing that mattered was getting a pass which would allow her to be promoted to the next grade.
“I don’t like to study but I didn’t waste my dad’s money! I managed to advance every year,” she said with a sheepish grin.
“[Before joining showbiz] I thought about becoming an air-stewardess after graduating from Poly because I didn’t have any plans. I have no regrets about not entering University. [A degree] wouldn’t be of much use to my career now anyway.”
She has never said “I love you” to her parents
In spite of her poor grades, Carrie’s doting parents have never laid a hand on her, which is one thing the actress is extremely grateful for.
Even when she scored 28 and 22 marks in Mathematics in her PSLE Preliminary examinations, her father brought her out for a nice meal at Jack’s Place as a form of encouragement. Carrie said with teary eyes: “When I think about it now, it still makes me want to cry. I was really insensible at the time.”
In order not to disappoint her dad, Carrie diligently attended tuition classes for three months. Her hard work paid off when she spotted an A* on her results slip. That was the first time she knew what a sense of accomplishment felt like.
Carrie’s parents have been very supportive of her career as an actress, even checking out reports online regularly. The family of three may be closely knit, but they are not the type who express their affections outwardly.
“Can you believe it? For the past 21 years, I have never said ‘I love you’ to Daddy and Mummy. I see my friends kissing their mums goodbye but I can’t do it. It’s too awkward. We show our love via actions,” she asserted.
In the near future, Carrie hopes to give bountiful red packets to her parents every year and ultimately, she aims to buy a house for them.
She retired from clubbing at 19
Calling herself a precocious kid, Carrie started clubbing at 16. Thanks to her friends working in the club, the young’un gained easy access to parties despite being underage.
For a few years, Carrie continued her partying life until she “grew tired” of it. Among those days, there was once when she was so drunk that she threw up in a taxi. She woke up the next morning with a memory blank (and horrible hangover); the only thing she could recall was paying for the cab fare with her debit card.
A stark contrast to her adolescent past, the otaku now spends her day being a couch potato at home when she’s not filming.
She chose career over her ex-boyfriend
Although her lifestyle hasn’t taken a drastic change since she became a celebrity, Carrie does get a little cautious if strangers approach her these days. During the partying days, however, her Facebook friends list was packed with people whose faces she couldn’t even recognise.
Despite her wide social circle, the actress has only been in one relationship. “I wouldn’t choose my boyfriend in a club. That’s too dangerous. Even after becoming friends, we need to get to know each other better. It depends on how I feel about the guy too,” Carrie let on.
Confessing that she was the one who called it quits on her ex-beau, Carrie said: “I let him down. Between work and love, I’d choose the former obviously. I am still young and I have found something that I want to give a shot at. I won’t give up.”
Carrie dated her Poly classmate for over a year before she was offered the MediaCorp contract. According to the actress, her ex-boyfriend was very good to her. Yet, his lack of confidence made him aversive to the idea of his other half becoming a public figure.
Problems between them started arising when she took part in ChU drama Scrum!. They were both busy preparing for exams and all the free time Carrie had was spent on filming, resulting in frequent arguments.
If there were already so many issues at the start of her career, their differences would only get worse in time, Carrie thought. It was then that she decided to call an end to their romance. “It is a pity. But he is doing well now and I am doing fine. So, I believe I made the right choice. We don’t talk as much now, but we are still friends,” the thespian affirmed.
She insists that Xu Bin is just a “good friend”
Unbeknownst to many, Carrie has known MediaCorp dukes Xu Bin and Shane Pow since her secondary school days. After working together on 118, Carrie got even closer to Xu Bin whom she has given her first onscreen kiss to in the drama.
“Xu Bin is a very genuine person, and very straightforward too. He doesn’t go round in circles when talking. I admire guys who are like that. He doesn’t give off the vibe that makes people wary of him,” she chimed.
Could something be brewing between the two? “It’s impossible between us! We are just good friends!” exclaimed Carrie.
She has no qualms about looking older than her actual age
Unlike most girls, Carrie is not bothered by comments about her mature looks. Instead of viewing it as a disadvantage, the actress thinks that her appearance allows her to portray a wide spectrum of roles.
“I can play characters of my actual age. With make-up and styling, I can also play characters that are much older. Of course it would be challenging too, as my state of mind is not at that level yet. Who knows if I’ll still look the same when I turn 31?” the optimistic lass remarked.
As for her taller-than-average height, Carrie clearly sees it as her strength, even though she was once harshly rejected by her secondary school crush because of her physique. “He said that he doesn’t like girls who are taller than him. I was so sad,” she said with a chuckle.
Nevertheless, it was her enviable height that gave her the opportunity to dabble in modelling when she was in school.
While she is a fan of flats, Carrie admitted that it would be tough for her to accept guys who are under 170cm. “I’d get affected by how the public look at us. I believe the other party would too. Many people may say that love is between two people and we should not care about what others think. But you wouldn’t understand how it feels until it happens to you. It’s easier said than done,” she reiterated.
Special thanks to The Westin Singapore.
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