The New Paper
April 3, 2015
She went from being a nobody to an overnight teen sensation after starring as the lead in an Apple commercial in China.
Job offers have since been pouring in from all over the world for 16-year-old Eleanor Lee, daughter of local TV host Quan Yifeng.
But Quan, 41, rejected all of them, telling The New Paper that "the time isn't right yet".
She was speaking at the press conference of her upcoming movie Young & Fabulous, which will start filming on April 15.
The movie, which also stars Gurmit Singh, Aloysius Pang, Joshua Tan and Malaysian YouTube star Joyce Chu, is a coming-of-age story about a group of teenagers who overcome obstacles to fulfil their dreams.
Quan said in Mandarin: "Both Eleanor and I are not ready to let her step into the limelight as she is still a student. There is a time for everything and right now, she has to focus on her studies. She can enter showbiz after her O levels.
"She has received several commercial and movie offers from China and brand endorsements in Singapore, but I had to say 'no' for now."
When asked if she wants to go into showbiz, Eleanor told a local magazine recently: "I'm not really sure what I'll do in the future. But I want to concentrate on my studies first. I want to make it to university."
In her first movie after 18 years, Quan plays a strict and competitive mother-of-two who wants her children to focus on studies instead of delving in cosplay.
But Quan says she is the complete opposite in real life, as she prefers to treat her daughter like a close friend. "I always joke with her and I am very open-minded in our daily discussions," she said.
"I do not worry too much about her studies and results, and I don't stress her out. I also respect her privacy. I let her have her own room and no one can enter her room without knocking."
And this privacy is something Quan wants to safeguard even as the teen continues to attract interest - and admirers - both online and offline.
After Eleanor's 90-second commercial was released on Apple China's website on Feb 1, the number of followers on her Weibo account increased 40-fold.
Quan said her daughter receives countless declarations of "I love you" and "I want to marry you" every day.
She said: "I am very protective when it comes to fending off her admirers.
"I also scold people online if they use vulgarities on her Weibo account. I don't care what they think, but my daughter's social media account should be clean and free from vulgarities.
"I also constantly remind Eleanor that everything that happens online is unreal and that she shouldn't get sucked into it."
Quan tries to limit the time her daughter spends online, keeping the teen's mobile phone and allowing her to log in to her social media account for only two to three hours a day.
She said: "After Eleanor became famous, I have been controlling her social media account usage more than before."
What did Eleanor do with the six-figure sum she earned from the Apple advertisement? She bought an Hermes Birkin bag worth more than $20,000 for Quan as a present.
Quan said her daughter was fulfilling a childhood dream of giving her an expensive gift.
"We were very poor when Eleanor was young and I was a single mother," said Quan.
"She used to look at other stars carrying branded bags and asked why I didn't own one. I had to tell her that I didn't need one as I was a brand name myself. So she told me that she would get me a branded bag once she started earning. I am thankful for that."
Although Quan used to oppose the idea of her daughter stepping into showbiz, she has since changed her mind.
She said: "My daughter used to look so ugly with her big spectacles and braces that I never expected her to blossom into a beauty.
"But if she steps into the entertainment industry in future, I will ask her not to be a host like me. It's very tough. She can put her pretty looks to better use."