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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

18th Shanghai TV Festival: Exclusive interview with Ent QQ

Source: Ent QQ

Charmaine Sheh's interview with [Summit Talk] - Hong Kong dramas hard to get correlation in Mainland China

Prologue: She is the jury for this year's Magnolia Award. She acknowledged the high quality of the nominated series. She is TVB ex-Dongka Fadan, yet denies that TVB is suffering from lack of actresses. She head up north to film series, clarifies on untruthful rumors. She pursues happiness, having 'just let it be' attitude toward romance. She is Charmaine Sheh.

During the week of 18th Shanghai TV Festival, Ent QQ will publish daily interview with respectable figures from the judging panel. The guest for today's issue is Charmaine Sheh. She has toiled in Hong Kong TVB for 13 years, an actress with over 30 television series under her belt. Last year, she determinedly changed her contract with TVB to per series filming and ventured into Mainland China market. TVB was rumored to be suffering from actress shortage but Charmaine denies this. She has confidence in Myolie Wu, Fala Chen, and Linda Chung and feels that their acting has matured. At the same time, Charmaine revealed that Virginia Lok missed her and asked her to return to TVB to film series if she has the time. 

As the judge for this year's Magnolia Awards, Charmaine excitedly expressed that the quality of the nominated series are very high. "If I can film any one of these series, I will be very happy. They have very different themes; serious production values and superior acting cast." In contrast, no Hong Kong series has made it to the nomination list. Charmaine felt that Hong Kong series are predominantly modern series that revolves around the local topics and happening, therefore Mainland audience may find it hard to relate.

Part 1: Mainland China series has high standards, Hong Kong dramas difficult to relate for Mainland audiences

QQ: This is your first time being invited as judge for this kind of awards?

Charmaine: Yes, this is my first time as judge. When I heard that I’m invited to judge (Magnolia Awards) from my manager, I felt very excited and honored. I thought, can I? Because I don’t have much time to finish watching so many series. I pondered about it and feel that this is a good opportunity. Therefore I agreed.

QQ: Have you been watching the nominated series for the last few days? What is your opinion on the overall quality?

Charmaine: Yes (I watched). Actually, I feel that Mainland China series qualities are very high. I watched over 10 series and felt that if I were able to film any one of them, I will be very happy. This is because they have very different themes compared to Hong Kong, for example in [Cliff], they were talking about the topic of Communist Party. We don’t have this kind of series in Hong Kong at all. As for [Rural Woman Xiaomai to Metropolis], the theme is refreshing to me. The more I watched, the more I liked it. I couldn’t stop watching. When I’m not filming, I will watch the series; when I having meal break, doing makeup. Conclusion is I kept watching their series the whole day apart from reading my own scripts and filming series.

QQ: Are Mainland China series more diverse, what is the quality compared to Hong Kong series?

Charmaine: Like I just mentioned, Mainland China has very different themes and topics. Also, they have serious production values, including high quality actors. Every character attracted me.

QQ: In your opinion, what constitutes a good actor and series? What are your judging criteria?

Charmaine: A good series, for me depend on whether they have artistic elements, did they deliver the message, moral perspective and also the ratings (meaning their popularity) and also whether their topic and theme is refreshing.

QQ: This year, no Hong Kong series made it to the nomination list for Magnolia Awards. Do you feel regretful?

Charmaine: There’s nothing to be regretted, if none made it this year there’s still next year. However I hope that Hong Kong series can make it next year. Of course I hope so, since I’m a Hong Konger.

QQ: In your opinion, what are the reasons that Hong Kong series failed to be nominated?

Charmaine: I watched over 10 nominated series, I feel that their quality are very high. Also, their topics are totally different from Hong Kong. Perhaps Hong Kong series are predominantly modern series that revolves around local topics and happenings, therefore Mainland China audiences might find it difficult to understand and relate to.

QQ: This year, there are more female judges in Shanghai TV Festival, for example chairperson Lee Shao Hong, you and Chen Shu. When judging the series, would you tend to look from female perspectives? 

Charmaine: As judges, we should be impartial. We are actors that have filmed a lot of series, and the other directors (judges) are also very experienced. Therefore we are very fair.

Part 2: TVB is not lack of actresses, cherishes Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant 

QQ: In the recent year you have shifted your focus to Mainland China. Just now during the press conference you mentioned that you are happy filming series in Mainland China. In your opinion, what is the biggest difference in filming series between the two places (HK & Mainland China)?

Charmaine: Yes. Essentially our working hours in Hong Kong are longer. In the morning, we film outdoor location and in the evening we film indoor studio. Therefore we could work like 24 hours in a day. However in Mainland China, we only work with one filming team/group daily, therefore we can finish filming in 10 plus hours. It’s a little more relaxed and we can concentrate on studying the scripts, putting more thoughts into preparing the role.

QQ: Take this as an example; during your time at TVB, you are the best student in class, obedient and your teacher loves you. Why did you choose to transfer school?

Charmaine: Actually I have not left TVB because I will film a series for them every year. The reason is that I started to feel bored. In Hong Kong, I have almost collaborated with all the actors, including producers, scriptwriters and directors. To me, there’s no more freshness and I’m worried that the audiences will feel bored too. When I’m bored, I can think what to do but if the audiences are bored, there’s nothing much I can do. Also, I still love acting, why don’t I venture out and have a look? Mainland China market is really good and they have plenty of professional actors and directors I can collaborate with.

QQ: You once said that Virginia Lok has protected you like a greenhouse flower and she’s worried that you will get cheated in Mainland China. Did she continue to show concern for you?

Charmaine: I’m indeed being protected when in TVB. Especially us coming from Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant, they really cherish you. They are just afraid that I’m not used to the conditions out there. But I feel that as an actor we should have strong adaptability skills. So far I have not encountered any unhappiness, nor has anyone bullied me. She still continues to show concern, asking “How are you”, I said “I’m OK” and she replied, “Come back to film TVB series when you have time.” We have good relationship.

QQ: Today there were plenty of TVB artistes at Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Different from previous years, you are not promoting at TVB stage. It felt a bit isolated; did you feel a little sad?

Charmaine: Yes, just now I heard them say that this year; they came to promote their own series. I feel that this is quite good, because previously all (TVB) series are lumped together and the attention was a little unfocused. But now they can come and promote their own series, which means they can share their character with other people and create more understanding. It’s a positive thing.

QQ: A lot of people said that TVB is facing the danger of running out of leading actresses. What do you think about this?

Charmaine: Really? Again, I didn’t fully leave TVB, perhaps reducing my time to film their series. But TVB still have a lot of people such as Myolie Wu, Fala Chen, and Linda Chung. They are TVB leading actresses.

QQ: There are doubts about them. Among this generation, whom do you think has more maturity, and who is still adolescent?

Charmaine: They have been filming series for a long time. For example Myolie would have filmed for at least 10 years. I watched her performance in [Curse of the Royal Harem], it was very good.

QQ: Nowadays a lot of TVB ex-actors and actress are developing their career in Mainland China. Compared to TVB, are the competition in Mainland China fiercer? Is it more stressful, with the people comparing in terms of filming fees and popularity?

Charmaine: No matter where you are, people will always compare your earnings and popularity. What most important is we do not compare with others, because it will be very stressful. Which lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. However I feel that not everything is measured with money. Being able to film a role you like is far more important than money.

Part 3: Did not sign contract with Ricky Wong, denies that 3 years contract reached HKD100 million

QQ: Up to date, what type of role you are really interested in but have no opportunity to portray?

Charmaine: I’ve not portrayed ugly woman before. Comedy would be a great fun.

QQ: You really hope to create a second peak in your career. Do you have specific plan to attain this? 

Charmaine: I never thought of creating career peak, I just want to open my eyes (new experience). I didn’t give myself too much pressure because I feel there’s no need to. I love acting; I give my best portrayal for every role. I hope I can receive a good script and collaborate with good directors, actors on Mainland China. This is my biggest desire.

QQ: Any particular director or actor you would like to collaborate with?

Charmaine: I especially love Zhang Yimou, I watched almost all of his movies. Before this I said that he understands women, many of his works are from female perspectives. If I can really film his movie, I won’t be able to fall asleep (from happiness). 

QQ: In order to film his works, you need to enter movie market. Are you considering expanding in movie industry as your next plan?

Charmaine: I do not know if this is my goal. In any case I will give a try if the opportunity arises. As long as there are good scripts, I will film TV series. Of course I will also film movies if there are good scripts offered.

QQ: Rumors are spreading that you signed with Ricky Wong’s City Telecom, being in the same company with Sheren Tang and Maggie Cheung. People are fuelling the talk about the rivalry to become 1st Sister; do you feel repelled by this?

Charmaine: I’m not in the same company with them. I signed with a Mainland China company. However as my company have collaboration with CTI, people misunderstood. I still have contract with TVB, I cannot film series with other TV stations in Hong Kong.

QQ: You said that your filming fees always change. What is the current state – on the rise? Higher compared to TVB?

Charmaine: It’s a little higher than TVB. However, without TVB there’s no me, this is a fact. Therefore if you say filming fees, well of course we earn money by filming, this is a realistic question. I hope that the amount increases every year, and I do not want to compare with others. I also don’t know how much other people are earning either.

QQ: Rumors said your contract in Mainland China exceeded HKD100 million?

Charmaine: That much? Nay, it’s not.

Part 4 (final): In the past, boyfriend has to ‘go away’ for work, other half must be taller 

QQ: In the past during your work peaking period, you might not place emphasis in romance. Did those long years of working left any regret, in this sense?

Charmaine: No regrets, because I feel the time I spent (on work) was worth it. Work gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. Also, I feel very lucky for finding a work that I like. Actually, all the decisions were made by me; I’m someone who will not regret because I have considered them thoroughly before taking action. Everyone have different stages in life. When I’m younger, I will put all my time in work. I have to seize the opportunities given. However, now if time permits, I will rest more and put more thoughts into my future. 

QQ: Now you will consciously reduce your filming project and pay more attention to your lifestyle?

Charmaine: I will. It’s not just for my romantic life, but for my family. My mother is starting to get older; therefore I feel that I should spend time with family. Every year, I will go holiday with my family, this made me very happy. Therefore I said that people have different stages in life. In the past I worked hard and focused in work, not caring about family, friends and boyfriend. Go away; go away to all of them. Because I love my work, I will only feel happy if I keep on moving ahead. But now I’m getting tired, I want to slow down and think about other things.

QQ: You use to ask your boyfriend to go away in the past, does he feel bitter?

Charmaine: I didn’t tell him, it was me who went away.

QQ: Did your mother rush you to get married?

Charmaine: Not at all. Because my elder and little brother are married and have children. She knows that I’m crazy about work. Every time I head out to film, she will joke, “Ok, you go. Earn more money for mum.” Of course I know in a mother’s heart, she wants her daughter to be happy. But she never said so because she is very supportive toward me. Maybe she doesn’t want to pressure me. I don’t know. I’ve never discuss this matter with her. But I’m sure if one day I get married, she will be very happy.

QQ: Have you plan to get married in the next few years?

Charmaine: Hard to say. I feel that fate is determined by heaven, I will just wait.

QQ: Quite a few of your ex-boyfriends work in the entertainment industry, does that mean you will continue to look for partner within the industry?

Charmaine: Didn’t matter. Most important that the two person is happy, and sharing the same viewpoint. Sharing similar viewpoint enables communication. As long as I love him, he loves me. Didn’t matter if he’s from within or outside the industry, this is not a factor.

QQ: Just now during the press conference, Jiang Zhu Ping (Marry into the Purple co-star) said that you don’t need to marry into wealthy family, because you are already rich?

Charmaine: Still ok.

QQ: Which means you are wealthy?

Charmaine: (Laughs) Don’t put it that way. Well I don’t need to worry about life.

QQ: Like Ada Choi who marries a Mainland China citizen, do you consider marrying one as well?

Charmaine: Depends on fate. I really don’t know who I will be meeting next. He could even be from India. I don’t know.

QQ: You won’t exclude foreign people?

Charmaine: Actually what important to a person is whether he has a beautiful heart; is he a nice person. Not where he came from, whether he has money. Because I already said, I can take care of my life; he doesn’t need to worry about me. Therefore we just need to be happy in each other company for the rest of our lives.

QQ: Do you place importance on your partner’s look?

Charmaine: I don’t like those shorter than me, the rest no particular requirement. It’s enough if he can make me smile when I see him.

QQ: Only certainly cannot be shorter than you? Charmaine: Cannot say ‘certainly’. I do not know if my future husband will be shorter than me, but I prefer those taller than I am. It gives me a sense of security, that he can protect me and not the other way round.

- The End -

Interview pictures, credit as labeled:


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