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Friday, January 12, 2007

Settling debts with Charmaine Sheh

[Newtide January 2007 Issue 574. Reporter: Shim]

To Charmaine Sheh Si Man, awarded both "Best Actress" and "Favorite Female Character" meant she had finally receive recognition. However, the terms that "Winning on award, but losing popularity", this word has created many rumors. Not all are satisfied with the results and some even accused her using connections to win.

"How is that possible? That I used connection, and with that I waited 9 years to win? If that is so, then I'm really unsuccessful. I won't let myself doing such failures."

It already 9 years from MHK pageant to TVB heavily promoted fadan. Charmaine's improvement in acting is clearly witnessed. If you are Charmaine; with the awards presented in front of you, would you accept it? Of course! In fact she should receive it proudly, because her acting is for audiences, the awards are for self-encouragement, never for the tabloids! Moreover, time passed quickly and there will be another 'Best Actress' next year. Charmaine, keep on acting good series!

"You're holding it? Don't, just clip on my clothes and you won't need to hold with your hand" says Charmaine. It's the wired microphone of the recorder. Everytime it's troublesome, but also serves as my surveillance tool. For the first time interviewed, I enjoy observing their first reaction when they saw this 'antique'. Remembering a few years ago, my colleague brought this recorder to interview an artiste, and the artiste immediately raised his/her voice insulting: "Aiyo, never imagine that they still use cassette recorder here." There are also those who feel amused seeing this 'antique'... For the same person or item, there could be many viewpoints. If you have never experience it personally, do not make quick judgement. This time, let's use Charmaine as a study case.

On the evening of November 10th, 2006, TVB held it 39th Anniversary Award in HK. Charmaine won "Best Actress" and "Favorite Female Character" for her role in [Maiden's Vow]. In [MV], Charmaine portrayed several characters from different era, which is very difficult. It's also considered another breakthrough in her acting. Leaving emptied handed for several years, finally winning double and we can see the (rarely) emotional Charmaine during her award acceptance. She frankly said: "When I received the "Favorite", I thought I've lost "Best Actress..."

Way before the anniversary, the media reported about "Pouring out Sheh". No one knew who started it, but the target is Charmaine. After winning double awards in the same night, there are more rumors and the headlines become uglier. Looking back at previous anniversary awards, which Best Actress has not been target of rumors? It's just the tabloid method to create news. It's also unbelievable that the whole HK audiences boycotted Charmaine's series. If someone feels unfair, they should settle the debts with TVB instead!

Those who dislike Charmaine would definitely think that we must have received 'benefits' from her, therefore speaking good words for her. Yes, Charmaine did give us a lot of 'benefits'. You want to know? Ok, but first finished reading this interview which was conducted before the anniversary award (It's already 11pm in the night; they said people appear to be more sensual in late night!) I will tell you in the epilogue why we spoke good words for Charmaine Sheh.

Everyone praised that you look very pretty. Maybe you've heard it so many times, but if you heard someone praising you, how would you feel?

Hmm… I will feel happy. But if someone praises my acting, I think I will be happier.

Then how do you feel about your acting now?

Well, it has certainly improved compared to the past...

What level you wish to achieve?

Actually, it's hard to define, how to say... Because in every series, I will try my best to portray every character, therefore if you asked me what level I wish to achieve, I don't know. I only know that there is still a lot of space for improvement.

Which series did you start to notice your improvement?

From the audiences, it should be from [Return of the Cuckoo]. Everyone said I performed well in the series. However, I myself has always poured full effort in my work, therefore it's difficult for me to understand what makes the audience feel I've improved in the series. But the series I'm first satisfied of was [Country Spirit].

In your opinion, what characteristic 'Best Actress' should have?

Hmm... extremely 'ngai tak'! (Enduring)

As in...?

Late nights, stress, practice and things like that!

In [MV], you portrayed four characters, and all of them coming from different eras. I've heard that not only you have to change into different images daily; you also have to act several roles as well. I feel that if one doesn't have enough experience of professionalism, it will be extremely difficult to accomplish. Do you get confused during filming?

Hahaha! You can say that it's basically split personality! Huh, it so tiring, it feels like dying... really!

Then how do you manage to go on?

I worked 18 hours daily, after reaching home I have quickly shower, then quickly sleep, after waking up I have to rush back to TV station. Actually, I only have around 3 hours to do that all...

Sounds not easy. I can already imagine that you have trained your body to immediately fall asleep, immediately wake up just like an electronic appliance 'switch on' and 'switch off'.

There's no other way; you can't make others wait for you alone. Once or twice is still acceptable, but if others have to wait for you everyday, I feel that it's a huge problem. If you want to do something, then you should show a professional attitude, discipline and perseverance is very important.

In such circumstances, how do you distinguish the different characters?

No matter how tired, we must keep a clear mind. Even though you're falling asleep, you must be calm and clear. Everytime, I will prepare myself before filming, especially thoroughly understanding the script. While filming [MV], I distinguish my roles by remembering which costumes to wear. That was how I identified my roles.

Do you have any secret to maintain alertness? I feel that you are quite alert, and your skin is very good!

Skin? It use to be better. Alertness? Smile more, when you smile you will feel happy, and when you're happy you won't feel tired at all.

What makes you happy?

I smile easily. As long as the environment makes me happy, I will smile non-stop.

We always say: "Wherever there are people, there will be conflict." I'm curious, in TVB huge family, how do you get along with others?

You mean getting along with who?

I mean between artistes.

Ok... of course it depends on which artiste. Because everyone has different personalities, I can't use the same method to get along with everyone. For example, like western dining, there’s special cutlery for entrée, another for main dish and then dessert. You can't use the same pair of fork and knife from beginning to end. Just observe what their personalities are, and then use the same way to get along with them! I will try to use a comfortable way to communicate with them. For example, a sentence could be listened as good or bad, of course you'll choose to speak the nice way, and the important thing is to control your intonation.

Normally, would you choose to voice out or keep quiet?

Depends on the situation! If it concerns me, of course I will voice my opinion. But if it concerns other people's matter, I will choose not to voice out.

Can you find real friends in entertainment circle?

I believe there is. But I have been disappointed before after being betrayed by a trusted friend.

Really? What is your reaction back then?

It really hurts. I can't stop asking myself "Why?"

Did you cry?

Cry? Haven't reached that point yet, because I don't cry easily. But I was really upset, because it's such a pity.

Does this experience affect your outlook in choosing friends?

Of course! Now I will use a long time to observe first. However, it doesn't affect me to the point of terrified to make new friends, because not all people are the same...

Do you have the feeling that "It's lonely at the top?", that you're having less friends?

Haha! I don't have those kinds of feelings. This is because most of my friends are from outside the entertainment circle. I'm considered lucky!

When you meet them, will they ask you about your work?

Definitely won't. Our topics are quite common, such as shopping, dressing up... you know! Hahaha!

Mentioning dressing up, we are wondering, what accessory is most important to you?

I like wristwatches, not because I need to know the time, I just simply like them. Hahaha... I think I have around 20, 30 pairs of watches!

How about skincare and diet?

Must drink a lot of water! But I feel most important is to get enough rest. If lacking sleep, your awareness and skin won't be good. In addition, I feel that if you don’t need to, don't apply makeup.

When you go shopping after work, you do not apply make up?

Of course. During filming, make up was applied so many times; don't you have enough (feel sick of it)? Actually, I'm quite anti-makeup.

Before this we read news of you were pictured eating alone in a restaurant. I feel that you are really bold, because even common people are not accustomed to eating alone outside, plus you are an artiste.

Aiyo, because I was really hungry at that time! Hahaha!

But you are a celebrity!

Hahahaha... Celebrity can get hungry too! If not, the restaurant must be serving delicious dessert! I really love dessert; I won't miss any chance to taste them!

Since you like dessert, do you know how to make one?

Of course I do. My specialty is baking fruit pie and tarts. (Starting to laugh)

Have anyone tasted your baked fruit pie?

My family...

What is their comment?

Hehe… I remember that I've once joined a competition in high school, but I lost... Hahaha! Even though I lost, it was an honor being able to represent my school. I still remember that I made mixed fruit pie for the competition.

Nowadays, do you still have time to make pies?

No way, I don't even have enough time to sleep...

If not constrained by reality, what is your biggest ambition?

I wish to open a kindergarten.

Kindergarten? Whoa, do you think the little kids will be obedient if they saw a beautiful teacher like you?

Hahahahahaha! I don't want to be a teacher; I want to be a headmistress! Hahaha!

Why choose kindergarten?

I really love children. If I have my own kindergarten, everyday I'll get to hold a lot of adorable kids in my arms. I will feel very happy.

If that is so, then you must have children after getting married.

Of course. I hope to have 3 children, two boys and a girl. But I can't have many children, so I fulfil my dream by opening kindergarten instead! Hahaha!

Whoa! Don't tell me you already picked names?

Hahaha! Yes. But I can't tell you. Hehe... (smile impishly)

Since we mentioned having children, tell us about your dream wedding then.

Ok... actually it's a bit clashed, I want only two of us to be together, but then I like merry atmosphere – however it's troublesome too... when getting married you have to organize banquet and invite family and friends, the most bothersome is preparing the guest list. It won't be nice if you accidentally left out someone. I've once missed inviting a friend for my birthday, afterward I was scolded! But I really can't remember everyone, so it's inevitable sometimes. Plus, you only get married once in your life, so I can't imagine what will happen if I miss out anyone!

You once mentioned that you want someone who will love you until old age, to still have romantic stroll in parks...

Right and he must be still holding my hand too! During a holiday in Japan, I saw an old grandpa wearing blue cap holding an old grandma wearing pink cap crossing the street, so romantic. At that moment, I was very touched, that kind of feeling is so sweet. If I can find such partner in my lifetime, I will be satisfied.

I believe that no matter what, there will be a lot of people treating you nicely. Will you feel indifferent since everyone treats you nicely; is there anything that still moves you?

Wah, of course it's not like that! Basically, there are all sorts of people on earth; there's no person where everyone always treats them nicely. If someone tells you so, they're lying! Actually, there is still a lot of touching moments. Especially the support of my fans, I truly feel thankful of them. Because no matter where I go or what I’m doing, they're totally supportive. Earlier, I went to Mainland China to attend fans gathering, they have specially made a song for me, it's quite ingenious. They even sang together for me, the lyrics are about how they supported me over the years, will never forget me and hope that I'll continue to work hard... Their encouragement and thoughtfulness touched me. If it was me in their place, I'm not sure if be so thoughtful.

I feel that the subtle relationship between artiste and fans is difficult to unravel. They know all about you, but maybe you don't know who they are.

Yes! It's really incredible, they know how to sing the theme song of all my series, and this is incredible because I myself was not familiar with it... In another perspective, things that I've forgotten, they will remind me. Therefore, I told myself "Charmaine Sheh, don't do anything reckless, because there are lots of fans watching you!"

Setting an example to so many people, will you feel stressed?

Yes. My actions, no matter how small, might influence them. I don't feel stressed, but instead will increase self-requirement to accomplish whatever I do.

If the Charmaine Sheh today is not an artiste, where would you be, and what kind of life you will be leading?

I might have married, have kids, because truthfully I don't like working...

But you have already acted for so many years...

Because this is what I like to do! If not acting, I think I don't have anything else I like to do, when that time come I will enjoy not working.

When you are feeling disappointed, sad and exhausted, what will you say to encourage yourself?

(Thinking for long) Nothing is eternal in this world, only changes are eternal. You have to learn to treasure this moment, even though you are unhappy, eventually you will be happy again. What do you say?

Epilogue - Charmaine Sheh at the scene

Someone told us, Charmaine Sheh is not an easy artiste to work with. In cantonese, one will say as 'ba bei' (snooty). We feel nervous, because the photoshoot was set after 11pm, because we're unsure if there will be any miscommunication, because something unexpected might happen, a lot of because, a lot of what if, but we need to complete the assignment, we can't back away.

Due to tight schedule, Charmaine sacrificed her resting time for [Newtide] covershot. I feel that this is a kind of confidence, and we thank Tina for her collaboration and arrangement. Because the hotel rooms are fully booked, we can only use a function room as studio. After laying out all the clothes, shoes and accessories, we started to worry if Charmaine will wear the Prada low chest dress (too sexy), or Chanel floral skirt (too transparent). However, Charmaine said she does not mind and asked Tina to purposely retrieve some safety clothing from her room.

During that time, Twin's Gillian incident of secretly filmed while changing was still a hot topic. Because the function room has no empty room for her to change in, she will have to change in the washroom outside, and have to make several trips as well. Not only does Charmaine doesn't mind, she even teased us being too uptight.

In the process of going in and out, she was completely at ease to leave her handphone, handbag and personal items in the function room. This is a kind of trust too. Time has nearly reached dawn and everyone is still working, including Charmaine who persevered in order to shoot beautiful pictures. This is also a kind of trust. The whole night, Charmaine only have one request: she wants to drink a glass of chilled soft drink.

Maybe you will say she's pretending, but one couldn't continuously pretend for full 3 hours. Instead, it's our [Newtide] blessing. Therefore, good or bad is difficult to judge; rumormongers are indeed scarier!

Note: If reposted, please credit me for the translation and for the mag scans.

Sehseh: Phew! Finally finished with the translation. If I made any mistake above, I apologize. Enjoy reading the article :)

p.s. I missed not having any news of Charmaine. Wondering how's her work is progressing?

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