Sunday, September 19, 2004

[Sing Pao Special Report 19/09/04]

Fiona Yuen's Taste of Life

A girl who can down a pint of beer in eight seconds, but is not regular beer drinker, just showing off her skill once in a while. The customers applaud her and suggest she should try another great tasting beer, to which she replies: "Sure!". However, the language they speak is German...

Thinking back to the days growing up in Germany, this Cologne-born Chinese girl was loved by the same doctors who cared for the blonde-haired and blue-eyed baby girls and boys. Mixed among the German children, the communication between them was seamless, but with the only exception being that when she returned home, the girl would speak in Cantonese with her family: "My family speak Cantonese, but I had little opportunity to write in Chinese. Like many other overseas Chinese children though, we at least had to learn to write our own names."

Fiona's parents own a Chinese Restaurant, working both on the floor and in the kitchen and when this happy girl wanted to help out, her parents refused to let her in the kitchen. However, she was still very interested in the hot and stuffy kitchens where people rushed in and out all the time: "It was like a big factory, when the orders came in, then the cooks would cook it immediately and not long later, so many delicious dishes would be produced before the customers. Even cooking a steak had so many different methods and it is genuinely a combination of great skill and creativity." The large kitchen at home was a place where she could exercise her talents as she often cooked breakfast for her family. Her signature dish is Pork and Thousand Year Old Egg Congee, simmering on a slow flame that brings out the lovely flavour as well as memories of times and places gone by.

After winning the second runner up and Miss International Goodwill at the Miss Hong Kong Pageant in 1996, it has been a long time since she last cooked for her family. However, having just turned 20 years old, Fiona was about to embark on a new chapter in her life that she had never dreamed about: "If I was still in Germany, my life would not be like this. At the time, my feeling was just to have some fun and gain some experience, so I applied for the contest and to be honest, I was already so happy to get into the final." Easy going, friendly and always smiling, Fiona speaks the words from the bottom of her heart.

Moving from a Miss Hong Kong to becoming an artiste, this was another trial for Fiona: "When I received a script, I pledged to learn it well. Although there are some Chinese words that I don't really understand, I will always ask someone for help." Whilst filming for ancient drama "The Legend of Lady Yang", she had two different worries. "The character was very flirtatious and a little crazy and very provocative, how was I going to play her? The actions of ancient people were always so refined and I walk faster than most people, how was I going to be able to act so eloquently?" In the end, she gathered experience and advice frommany people and wrote down a lot of notes on her script to remind herself and with the script never leaving her side this also became the perfect opportunity for her to learn Chinese. In another ancient drama "The Crimson Blade", she played the leader of the 'Five Poison Sect' that embodied both good and evil as well as having to do some martial arts, but for Fiona, this was another opportunity to learn: "Every time, before going into filming, I would remind myself to concentrate and focus, trying hard not to have any NG's because I am afraid of affecting other people. If I constantly fluffed my lines, then it would be awful, so I would make sure that I was totally focussed." She knew in her heart that the titles, recognition and rewards gained from the beauty contest would not automatically be transferred into the world of an actor. "Only after becoming an artiste did I truly realise the hard work that the cast and crew put in and that I would not just complete my work by putting on a pretty outfit."

When Fiona was arranged to take part in a factual series about food, she took on her new challenge very happily. "Gourmet Express" was aired just as many families were tucking into their evening means and her partnership with chef and gourmand Leung Man To showed a genuine passion about the subject and led to the amazing success of the show: "I still remember when I went to meet brother To for the first time, I found him really lovable, like a Santa Claus, always laughing and very friendly. When we talked about food, he would be very happy and he has an excellent knowledge about the background to food, such as how animals are reared, how vegetables are grown, methods of cutting and cooking, so I have learned so much from him." To be honest, when artistes taste food and can do nothing more than just stick a thumb up and say: "Tastes good!", this lacks an element of sincerity and emotion, leaving the show with a shallow feeling, but with them, it was very different, so when asked why she was so ecstatic during one scene where she was introducing oysters, she replied: "In all my life, I have never seen oysters that were the size of my palm, so when I saw them, I was so happy and surprised!" Her true emotion comes from the heart: "Once, To To (Leung's nickname) and I were eating river prawn sashimi fresh from the river and it was absolutely delicious." As she recalls the feeling, her smile is as vivacious as ever.

After hosting two more shows about food, Fiona has the following reflection: "It is a great fortune for us to be able eat and introduce so many great foods to everyone and I feel that we should all be grateful and respectful for all the food that we are granted by the heavens and never waste any of it. The truth is that there are still many places in the world where famine means people do not have enough to eat, so if we are able to eat, we should treasure this." As well as earning her keep from her work, Fiona has also learned a valuable lesson and this was an unexpected benefit.


My friend's daughter saw Fiona Yuen on a children's programme and said to her father: "That lady's earrings are DIY and really cute, she is very pretty." The next day, my friend told me what his daughter had said and this reminded me to set up an interview with Fiona. So you see, as long as an artiste puts their heart into their work, then they will reap rewards. When I told Fiona about this, she said: "Thank you to the little girl, we will do our best and that is very important." Seeing her handmade jewellery, then you can appreciate how much effort and thought she puts into her work.

Reporter: Chan To On
Translation: Em
Photographer: Yung Chi Tong


[Oriental Daily 19/09/04]

Sonija Kwok and Joe Ma were guests at the Causeway Bay Yacht Club for the "2004 Autumn Sailing Contest" modelling some latest Autumn Sailing fasions for a fashion label. Due the the hot weather, with temperatures up to 30 degrees C and the blazing noonday sun, the two were driipping with sweat and it seemed like very hard work for them.

Afterwards, Sonija and Joe were very professional and both says that the clothes they were modelling were very comfortable. Sonija said: "Although it was very hot today, but it was not as hot as the show I did earlier in America. That was also in the open, but it was much hotter than today." When Sonija was then asked whether she has been supporting her good friend Charmaine Sheh in "War and Beauty", she immediately indicated that she has and praised the show for being very entertaining, with excellent performances from all the cast.

With reports that with her recent change to a sexy image, Shirley Yeung will soon be replacing the sexy goddess position of Sonija, she says: "Everyone has their own beauty and there will always be comparisons, but I will not mind. (Have you seen Shirley's sexy photos?) No, I have not."


[Oriental Daily 19/09/04]

Ella Koon and Cutie Mui met up at a charity waterskiing competition and fun day yesterday. Also present was pop and movie sensation Cecilia Cheung.

Boyz were acting as Ella's water skiing coaches and when Ella fell over in the water, Kenny dived in to rescue her and she praised him for his gallantry. Ella says: "He is a gentleman. Will I fall for him? He is not bad, but I don't think he likes me. I am pleased that Cecilia said she liked my eyes before because she is an ultimate beauty and I was very surprised." On the receiving end of so much praise, Kenny laughed: "She is doing very well, Steven and I have learned to waterski from Cutie Mui and I am in love with her. I fell over once and injured my face, so now I pray before I go out."

On the other hand, Cutie does not accept Kenny's affections as she says: "Don't be silly! However, they are both doing very well and are very smart. I am thankful for them coming along despite being so busy and they will reap good reward for their charity. I wish them top record sales!"


[Ming Pao 19/09/04]

Gigi Lai appered at an exhibition of the work of her make-up artist Rich Chin in Causeway Bay yesterday and there has been a good reaction to her series "War and Beauty" recently, but there were reports about a female chef who felt so sorry for her character and that it was reflecting on her own life that she tried to jump off a bridge to commit suicide. When Gigi heard this, she was very shocked and said: "Such big trouble?"

Gigi believes that it is just a drama and she hopes that the viewers will not become too obsessed with the characters. For artistes who don't act the scene well, they can have retakes, but there is no Take 2 in life and she hopes that everyone can learn to treasure life. She uses her own character as an example to encourage the public, saying: "My character is at one point locked away and a victim to other people's evil plans, but she is still very determined. Next week, the story will tell of my character rebuilding her power, so I hope that this lady will not be so distraught, to find some positive and healthy thoughts and fight for what we should be fighting for."


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