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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Looking Closely at Kevin Cheng

On August 15th, Kevin Cheng turned 36. A lot of people thinks he looks younger. In "Yummy Yummy," he doesn't look much older than Raymond Lam. Kevin was born in the late 60's and his career is just kicking off. His youthfulness is a great advantage.

As Moses appeals to the older housewives' market, Kevin is still popular amongst young teens. In his "Jade Solid Gold" appearance, there are still many young fans supporting him.

A long time ago, Kevin had also heard the wild cries of his young female fans. In 1993, Kevin started out as a singer. He released several albums, but sales were not too good. He tried his luck in Taiwan singing and acting, then returned to Hong Kong and signed with TVB. In the blink of an eye, 12 years has passed since the early days of Kevin's career.

TV might give some people an impression of being "out." I want to be an actor who delivers a sense of moderness. In my spare time, I read a lot of magazines, such as "Non-no," "Smart" etc. If you can name it, I read it."

Having a distinct image is good. In the past, Kevin's music career didn't take off because his image wasn't distinct. Among the multitude of TVB actors, being singled out is a good thing, rather than just having a handsome face.

Personality Is Not Introverted
Not a lot of people know Kevin's real personality. Is Moses Chan considered westernized? Kevin also does not have a traditional Chinese personality. He was born in the United States and went to Hong Kong when he was a few months old. He went to high school in Canada and got his engineering degree in the U.S. Since he was young, Kevin's mom and elder sister took care of him.

Among TVB's promoted actors, Kevin doesn't have a distinct image in the audience's mind, as compared to Ron Ng, Bosco Wong, etc. Kevin admits that he doesn't know how to "sell" himself.
"The first thing I have to change is that I'm not good with interviews. I don't know how to express myself. How do I let the audience know what kind of person Kevin Cheng is? Especially when it comes to TV or radio appearances and I only have a chance to say only a few words."

In 1993, Kevin signed his recording contract with Polygram. At the time, the company promoted him as "The Shy Guy." Alan Tam at the time said that it's very hard to sell such a bland image and that I should change my wooden personality.


"Actually, I don't consider myself to be shy. I am just quiet to strangers. This may be due to my upbringing. I was raised by a nanny, Ling Jeh. My father was always away on business trips. My mother was a nurse and she had to work night shifts. My sister lived at my relative's house. I watched a lot of tv by myself when I was growing up.

Joining the Singing Contest
Kevin was born bow-legged. When I was young, I had to wear leg braces for 2 years to straighten out my legs. I thought, "I was a good kid, why punish me with this?" Thanks to those 2 years, Kevin was attending school in Hong Kong at the time and developed an adventurous spirit. His personality is definitely not as introverted as many think.

During Form 4, Dai Yan Chung was recruiting music students for his class near Kevin's school. Kevin joined the class with his friends and met Dai, who became his instructor and mentor. Kevin's life changed as a result.

Kevin joined TVB's singing contest at age 16. His entry was Lui Fong's "Sweet Sixteen." He made it to the final 30, but because he was so anxious, he withdrew and didn't participate in the final contest. "In the early part of the contest, Anita Mui was one of the judges. Anita, along with Lai Siu Teen, sought me out. I knew that if I had stayed in the contest, I would have been placed and would have successfully entered the entertainment industry. But I withdrew; I was not prepared mentally. I thought I should at least finish school first."

Later, Kevin went to Canada and the U.S. to further his education and never thought about pursuing a music career. But he always thought entering the entertainment industry is not difficult. "You can say I am arrogant, but I thought breaking into the industry was very simple. I didn't sing well during the contest, but Lai Siu Teen still put me in the final 30. Even if I didn't win any awards, getting a recording contract shouldn't be hard."

After he received his engineering degree, Kevin returned to HK. Dai Yan Chung said, "You're already in your 20's; time for you to enter the industry." Once Dai said yes, a Polygram contract was offered to Kevin to sign.

Didn't Blame Dai Yan Chung
Signing a recording contract didn't guarantee automatic success. Polygram had superstars like Jacky Cheung and Leon Lai; there were definite distinctions between big stars and less known ones. "At Polygram, many artists released their albums at the same time. The higher quality songs were reserved for the bigger artists. The same was done for TV promotions. As a result, many things were not within my control."

After releasing several albums, the reaction was mediocre. After Polygram signed another young idol, Daniel Chan Hiu Dong, Kevin went to Taiwan and released Mandarin albums. "I was not satisfied with my music career. I could have done better. I didn't know how to make the album sell better. No one told me what I could do and I was left to fail on my own."

At the time, rumors said that Kevin had signed with Dai Yan Chung for 10 years. But Dai was against Kevin dating Linda Wong Hing Ping [who was also under Polygram]. As a result Dai and Kevin's relationship soured. "Even now, I am grateful to Dai. If not for him, I would not have been able to enter the entertainment industry. It was Dai who encouraged me to join the singing contest." (Did Dai sell your contract to a Taiwanese company?) "I can only say that I don't regret my decisions at the time."

Facing Reality and Becoming An Actor
"Being in the industry for 12 years, I realized that reality is very difficult. Relationships with people are very complex. This is a skill that I didn't know how to figure out. Who tells you the truth or lies, who is truly sincere is hard to figure out."

"I have learned to be much more careful in signing contracts. Contracts bind you for many years and can have an impact on your career. I will not let emotions affect me in signing a contract."

Although Kevin was in Taiwan for a few years, he only released one album. When the Asian financial crisis hit, Kevin's record company also went bankrupt. Kevin's only option was to turn to acting. In Alex Su and Jimmy Lin's "Twin Brothers," Kevin played a villian role. "I had to face reality. I like to sing, but under those circumstances, I could only turn to acting and try my best."

In 2001, Kevin returned to TVB and acted in several series. His first series with TVB was "Burning Flame 2" as a firefighter. To fit into his role, Kevin darkened his tan. Many people thought he was trying to look like Louis Koo. In "Yummy Yummy," Kevin works in a poultry shop. He went to observe butchers and how they handle chickens, to make sure his performance is convincing.

On "Jade Solid Gold Again," Kevin Is Nervous
In "Yummy Yummy," Kevin takes part in the theme song and is once again a singer. He is excited and the feeling is like getting a "big bonus." "Back in the recording studio, the feeling was very strange. After spending a few hours, I was finally accustomed and successfully recorded the song. The last time I was on "Jade Solid Gold" was 6-7 years ago. Back then, it was not a live recording. It's been a long time since I sang live, so I was worried if I could would be successful."

Promoting his new album overseas with Raymond Lam and Ron Ng, it was rumored that Kevin didn't have as many fans to support him. Kevin didn't mind, but rather explained for his fans.
"It's not that I don't have fans. Many have supported me from my early days in my career and they have grown up with me. If you were to asked a 20-something-year-old to wait for me with my name sign, they would be a little embarrassed. In the past, they did it when they were young. After the newspaper reported the incident, my fans said: 'If everyone else has name signs, we have to make them for you too. After that, every time I made a public appearance, there were many signs. My fans are older and it is really remarkable they are doing this."

Kevin is already happy that he had a chance to release another album. He doesn't mind that Ron Ng's song was very popular, while Kevin's song was not. "In the past when I was a singer, I have experienced many difficulties. I will not be unhappy about things that are beyond my control."

The Good Side In Having Rumors
In internet forums, many people discuss why Kevin Cheng is not very popular. Some people say he is too old. But in reality, Kevin looks a lot younger, almost the same age as Raymond Lam. Some people say, Kevin's acting is too wooden. But if we compare his acting in "Burning Flame 2" with "Yummy Yumming," that's improvement. Another criticism is that he has no rumors/ news. The last time was 10 years ago with Linda Wong Hing Ping, who has already married a businessman. Kevin said that he is still friends with Linda and last time he was hospitalized for high blood pressure, she called to ask how he was.

The newest rumor is with Niki Chow, but it is like a recycled rumor. Two years ago, the rumors started with "Hard Fate." Kevin was happy he had rumors, as it indicated he was newsworthy. And when they were filming "Lovers Under Sky Curtain," reporters wrote that Kevin saved a chicken drumstick for Niki. Kevin said very unromantically, "I also saved one for Ha Ping Jeh."

In conclusion, maybe Kevin is not romantic enough, unlike Moses Chan's warmth (who went out with his female manager, with his arm around her waist), Ron Ng's attentiveness (dropping off Ella Koon late at night) or Bosco Wong's negative rumors (his ex-girlfriend's blame). Maybe Kevin should learn from them.

[X] credit: Jayne @ http://hkcelebrities.blogspot.com/
Ming Pao #1918 @ http://www.mingpaoweekly.com/htm/1918/a101.htm

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Jillian's Thoughts

After reading the article, I find myself liking Kevin even more. He possesses such humility, in which I greatly admire. To me, he's good looking, talented, and a person in which I would almost go to any length to meet. To himself, he's just Kevin Cheng. I don't like the fact that the article almost made Ron, Bosco, and Moses out to be the "bad" guy. It's not Ron's fault that he's greatly promoted. It's not Bosco's fault that people like to write up gossips and rumors about him. And it's not Moses' fault that he's friendly and westernized. I do feel that TVB favors people and it's totally unfair that Kevin isn't promoted as much as some of the other less-talented actors. No matter what his future endeavors are, or will be, I'll always support Kevin. Good luck on your career path Kevin, and I know that you'll have your shining moment in the near future. Keep your head up high, and always stay grounded. Be true to yourself, and don't let anybody change you.

Much love from Jillian

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