The Straits Times
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Host and actress Michelle Chia had a "stress-free" time watching last month's Star Awards ceremony from the comfort of her home.
Having left local television station MediaCorp two years ago, she relishes the relaxed feeling of admiring her former colleagues decked in pretty outfits, instead of enduring the nerve-racking feeling in previous years when she was regularly among the nominees at the annual TV award ceremony.
Chia, 38, says of being nominated: "Once you buy a lottery ticket, you want to win. It's stressful no matter what your mindset is or even if you tell yourself to relax."
Some viewers who have missed her presence on local TV have approached her on the streets to tell her so. She says: "Many people I meet tell me they haven't seen me for a long time and ask when I'm going back on TV."
Make that October, which is when her new show will air on E City (StarHub TV Channels 111 and 825) and SuperSports Arena (StarHub TV Channel 201).
Together with Adrian Pang, she will be hosting a new game show, Silence!, which has contestants performing a series of tasks as silently as possible for the chance to win cash prizes of up to $10,000. The tasks range from cracking an egg to pushing a supermarket trolley filled with utensils.
The programme, adapted by producer StarHub from Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV, will begin filming in July and air in October.
A professional reunion with Pang was one of the reasons Chia took on the job.
"The last time I worked with him was for a drama, not hosting a show. It was for Polo Boys and we had a lot of fun then. We stopped working together because he was busy with Pangdemonium! and then I left MediaCorp. I never thought he would come back to TV," says Chia, who had hosted food-themed variety show Yummy King and the President's Star Charity gala show with Pang, among other projects.
The wacky concept of Silence! also interests her. While filming the programme's trailer, she and Pang tried their hand at opening a can of carbonated drink, which she says is "almost impossible to do silently".
The bubbly Chia has been anything but silent on her career front since her departure from MediaCorp - she clarifies that the move does not mean she is taking a hiatus from showbiz or retiring from it altogether.
In fact, her plate has been full since her contract expired in May 2012. She spent the second half of that year travelling to film Channel 8 social documentary series Borders, which explores the areas separating countries such as the United States and Mexico as well as India and Pakistan.
Last year, she hosted Channel 8 beauty programme MTM Women In Control with actress-director Michelle Chong, and she is now filming the fifth season of Channel 5's Our Makan Places: Lost & Found with co-host Gurmit Singh.
She explains: "My decision to not be a full-time artist was not to have a clean break from showbiz. When there's something suitable, and something I think I will enjoy, I will go back.
"My decision was about moving to the next phase of being able to choose what I want to do, giving myself the chance and time to do what I've been wanting to do. Many a time, we always say we want to do something, but we always say we have no time. So I made the time for myself."
What was the one thing she wanted to accomplish? Fulfil her dream of getting children to speak Mandarin again, says the effectively bilingual Chia, who opened Chinese oracy school You Station last January.
"Nowadays, most children can speak only English. The worst part is they are so afraid of the Chinese language. I want them to be able to speak our mother tongue."
Although she does not teach at the school, she is involved in planning the curriculum which gets children aged three to 10 to learn through fun and play.
With all the attention she is giving young children, it is natural to assume she might be feeling her maternal instincts kicking in. But she says she has no plans at the moment to walk down the aisle with her current beau, whom she declines to name "because he did not choose a career like mine".
It could be a case of having learnt her lesson on being too open about her relationships with the press. In 2011, she and actor Shaun Chen made the headlines when they got divorced after two years of marriage.
Of the break-up, she says: "It is a chapter of my life which I treasure and that's pretty much it. I've just moved on."
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