If you know me you would not believe that I was an incredibly shy kid. So shy that I found it difficult to say hello to anyone in a room full of adults. Like any spoilt child though, I had a lot of attitude when it came to my own family. I think the weird combination of being a shy but spoilt only child must have lead to my annoyingly inconsistent bitchiness.
To make things worse, I was also the baby of the family for a long time. My relatives loved dressing me up and taking photos of me as if they had such pioneering spirits that they thought of film as memory cards.
I hated it.
The attention and company was nice for a while, but my cousins would move onto playing house, making me play not just the baby, but a small baby who “doesn’t know how to walk or talk”. That meant I would spend whole weekends or even summers with them being told to lie in a corner and do nothing. Fast forward 20 odd years and I would own that game, especially if you gave me some wine. The alternative back then was being strapped into a toy pram, raced against whatever they found available for pushing and destroying, and be abandoned until my aunt found the carnage of a toy pram crash. Now you know that’s a thing. Oh wait, memories are flooding back: option #3 was being held down and tickled by no less than two older cousins until an adult tells them I’m about to stop breathing; and option #4 was being “taught how to swim” by having my head held under water until an adult comes along. It’s a strikingly consistent theme.
Back to photos and dressing up. Sooner or later they, including my own dear mother, would be all “okay now look sad (or angry, or excited, or funny)”, and I just hated every bit of it, both being told what to do and pretending to be something I am not. Without a doubt I would nail the angry face without even trying.
I’m not sure if I was really that cute, or if my family just liked to flatter themselves for having a chubby child with big round eye in the clan, but they kept saying I should be on TV like my other cousin. I can’t remember if I had gone on auditions before my first gig or if I just nailed that very first one, but I think I messed up lots of those. I was massively uncomfortable trying to look a certain way in front of the camera in a room full of strangers. What I remember as my first gig was a blast though (no one is sure which was the first time I pranced in front of a camera for money). For some reason I was crazily in love with this local pop singer called Charlie Yeung – my cousins probably told me to love her – and lo and behold they needed a shitload of children for one of her kiddie songs’ MV.
I gladly jumped in front of a camera, with my face painted and dressed up as a mouse. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the opening chapter of my 20 year love hate relationship with TVB, a monopoly TV station in Hong Kong.