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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Charmaine Sheh: Not easy being the multi-millionaire Fadan

[Mingpao 09/01/2011]

Charmaine Sheh has been involved with the rumor-filled entertainment circle for 13 years, battling rumors, rivalry for TV Queen and negative criticisms. However, she takes everything in stride. She remains unaffected and successfully rise to the position of TVB 1st leading actress firmly, earning over HKD10 million annually! All is not easy, she is very grateful to those who have supported her and encouraged her to seek for breakthrough in acting. In 2011, she has a few series with challenging roles to be aired. She hopes to recover some lost grounds and perhaps TV Queen seat again!

In the recent years, Charmaine became a regular in the battle of TV Queen. In 2006, she successfully won TV Queen for her role in [Maiden's Vow]. However, for the past two years she has lost the award to rival Sheren Tang. The public feels unjust for Charmaine and there were rumors of Charmaine feeling dissatisfied and considering leaving TVB to expand her career in Mainland China. At this, Charmaine couldn't be bothered: "Experiencing so many years of award ceremonies, winning or losing actually doesn't matter anymore. [Can't Buy Me Love] and [No Regrets] are two totally different genre of series, I'm happy that both series achieved good results. Both are winners. In my memory the fiercest competition for TV Queen took place in 2004, with 4 out of Top 5 finalist for TV Queen came from [War and Beauty]. Therefore it's getting more relaxing for me as years goes by. To be honest, it's good enough to make it to Top 5 because it proves that you have the ability to compete."

Thankful toward Catherine Tsang tough love

The spoiled Princess Chiu Yeung in [Can't Buy Me Love] is one of Charmaine's favorite role to date. "I rarely film comedy series. I was afraid when I first read the script, this girl is so annoying and troublesome! And wondering if people will dislike her. At that time, I was filming [When Heaven Burns] and I did not spend too much time to study the character. Afterward, more sassy elements are added into the role and thankfully, a lot of people like the portrayal. It allows the audience to see a different side of me. It's really enjoyable filming comedy series. The most important thing is the chemistry between cast members. I feel that [CBML] is a perfect combination of cast."

Since winning 2nd runner up in Miss Hong Kong Pageant in 1997, Charmaine has joined TVB for 13 years. Her acting career is considered a smooth one, apart from the criticisms of her weak voice and raw acting in the early years. After continuous hard work, she quickly received recognition and rose steadily among the rank of fadan. She is most grateful toward Catherine Tsang (Head of Drama Production Department) tough love: "Catherine always scolded me saying: 'So ugly, why don't you fix your look first!' She has always used harsh words to motivate me. In the beginning, I don't know anything about acting but she never gave up one me, continuing to give me chances for me to improve. I remember working with Felix Wong in my first series [FFOSM], I asked him: 'How can I improve and become as good as you?' He said that you will naturally improve as you film more series. You can't reap reward without putting in effort, and what he says is true."

Learning through careful observation

"I did not attend TVB acting class; I was like a blank piece of paper after competing in MHK. I can only become a sponge, slowly observing and absorbing other people's acting. I earnestly learned and slowly gained more confidence and improvement, finding my own method. I will spend a lot of time doing homework and preparation every time I encounter a different role. For example, I portrayed a solemn character in [When Heaven Burns] – a month before filming started I kept thinking about how my boyfriend was murdered and her unhappy history to help me get into the character quickly. Sometimes an actor can get split personality from this. Luckily I film series one after another; therefore I can quickly withdraw myself from the character and erase it."

Continuous filming of 170 episodes of series

During the interview, Charmaine looked tired. Charmaine did some counting and indicate that including the upcoming [Forensic Heroes 3], she has filmed a total of 170 episodes of series since last year. She frankly said that she is exhausted. "I'm really exhausted, I want a holiday. In the past years, I will usually apply summer leave to return to Hawaii, but last year I spent the holiday slot to film [Justice, My Foot!] in Mainland China. It was a packed and tiring year. However, as Mainland China series have fixed schedule, I was able to get some rest."

Charmaine and Moses Chan are crowned as TVB's top earners. Earning over HKD10 million, Charmaine is labeled as the rich lady in TV circle. Last year she continuously filmed two Mainland China series to earn RMB (Chinese Yuan). She grinned and said: "Actually after calculating the overalls, earning RMB is about the same! However, last year was indeed a prosperous year, a lot of money earning opportunities. I filmed many advertisements. Like what Moses said, it's already happy enough reaping the reward of our hard work."

Since Charmaine entered the entertainment circle, she has rumors with almost all the leading actors on her series. She is already numbed to this. Last year while filming [CBML] and [Sister Fa], Charmaine had brief rumors with Moses and Raymond Lam. She nonchalantly replied: "A lot of rumors are obviously fake; they simply wrote it for entertainment. As long as I have a male co-star, they will write about it. If they ask me, I'll simply answer it. I don't know what they are writing. Moses and I have collaborated since a long time ago yet they only wrote about it now, don't bother me please!"

Sheren Tang once mentioned that she have encountered many good men in series, for example 'Chai Gau' and 'Lau Sing', which cause her to have high standards in selecting her life partner. It made it harder for her to find a match. However, Charmaine doesn't feel the same. "TV series can easily influence people. Even if the leading characters are not flawless, they are still good people. However, I do not make the leading male character in series as the standard to choose my life partner."

Empty love life, No time to date

Currently Charmaine is so busy with work that she barely have time to rest. Certainly no spare time to date. She revealed that her grandma often urge her to get married. Unfortunately she hasn't met her Mr. Right yet so she can't do anything about it. "You can't rush love. I feel that if you are fated to meet someone, you will meet him when the right time comes. Break-up can be very simple as well. This is from my experience. Nowadays, I won't insist (on relationship) anymore. In addition, if I have a boyfriend now, I don't have time to accompany him. I will feel very sorry toward him."

If Moses is the 'ideal match' (among single ladies in entertainment circle), then Charmaine is also the ideal among the male counterpart. She is an independent woman and doesn't act like a princess. "I don't like asking other people for help, I will try my best to do everything on my own. I don't even have housemaid, but employ a part time housekeeping who come over twice a week to clean up my house. I am someone who requires a lot of privacy, I need a quiet environment to read scripts and study the character without disturbance." When she is not smiling, she gave off a cool feeling. "Maybe I'm thinking about inane stuff, such as what to eat or simply spacing out."

3 series in store, waiting to win TV Queen again

Last year, Charmaine lost out on TV Queen award. However this year she will have three series [When Heaven Burns], [Sister Fa] and [Forensic Heroes 3] waiting to be aired. All these are her chips to TV Queen award.

Challenging acting skills with 10 year old character

Among the series above, [Sister Fa] has the highest expectation as Charmaine's character is a girl with 10 years old mentality. This is her first time portraying such role, challenging her acting skills. "It's really difficult to portray this character; I have to maintain the tandem in every scene. If I let down my guard, the character will transform back into a normal person, therefore I had to spend a lot of concentration. However, 'she' is a cute girl."

As for [When Heaven Burns], her character is very solemn, someone with a dark past. As they can't possibly narrate everything in the series, she need to be totally into the character and brings out her personality.

Partnering with Wayne Lai for the first time

[Forensic Heroes 3] will start filming soon and this is the first time Charmaine collaborate with twice TV King Wayne Lai. "Working in TVB for over 10 years, I've never collaborated with Wayne in a series before. I believe we can bring a refreshing feeling to the audiences. Last time, I portrayed a policewoman. This time I will be portraying a forensic pathologist who is easygoing and diligent."

Laughing her way to the bank

Charmaine is TVB top earning female artist. She is also very good in property investment. Earlier, she reaped a profit of HKD8.6 million by selling her 'Fengshui house' located in North Point. She is pleased with the profit and said that she will feel happy seeing her growing bank account after a hard day at work. Most of her investments are concentrated on real estate: "I will save up my money and purchase property at a stable and suitable time. I don't know about stock investment, nor I do not have the time to play such games."

The property she just sold has always been labeled as her Fengshui house (lucky). She laughed and said: "That's what the magazines said! I sold it because it's a good price! After handing over the apartment, I will rent a house first. I will wait until the property price drops again to purchase a new house." Regarding Fengshui, she will acquire some advice because she will be staying there for quite some time. Therefore it's not good if the new place brings bad luck such as illness and accidents. Earlier, there was a rumor saying that she spent HKD180, 000 on a lucky charm to win TV Queen award. Charmaine laughed: "Nonsense! If you can buy the award with a mere HKD180, 000, then a lot of people would have bought it already! I will buy it as soon I enter the entertainment circle! Why would I wait over 10 years? Am I an idiot?!"

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