Yip Wai Yee
The Straits Times
28 March 2016
Hong Kong TVB actress Grace Chan does not mind being referred to as "Kevin Cheng's girlfriend" by the media and TV fans.
The 24-year-old rising star, who has been dating Hong Kong A-list actor Kevin Cheng, 46, for the past year, is "completely comfortable" with the label, she says.
In Singapore recently to promote the TVB vampire series Blue Veins, which she acts in, the Hong Kong-born Canadian actress tells The Straits Times with a grin: "I love my boyfriend and I respect him. So I shouldn't mind it if he's what people always associate me with."
Another reason, perhaps, why she is undaunted by the label is that she never feels slighted in their relationship despite the wide gap in both their ages and star status.
She says: "We're equal partners in the relationship. It's not like one is the sidekick to the other. We're both the superheroes in this sense.
"Whenever we're together, I'm happy and comfortable enough that I never feel like a shadow."
The pair reportedly started dating after filming Blue Veins together last year. She plays a woman who pines for his vampire hunter character.
Unlike other celebrities in relationships, she is open when asked about her romantic life, spilling details of their Valentine's Day - they had "a quiet home-cooked meal" - and mentions that she met Cheng's mother during Chinese New Year.
Cheng, who has been known to be fiercely private about his past relationships with actresses Charmaine Sheh, 40, and Niki Chow, 36, has also been surprisingly open about his latest flame.
Hong Kong media outlets have pointed to his age as the reason for this change, speculating that he is finally ready to settle down and get married.
However, Chan, who joined TVB as an actress after winning the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant in 2013, says marriage is not on the cards just yet.
"We've been dating for only a year and I'm enjoying the dating process. We're taking things one step at a time and I'm not in any hurry to get married," she says.
1. Were you a fan of Kevin Cheng's work before you got to know him?
(Laughs) This is embarrassing, but I have never seen any of his dramas before and this is a guy who has done some really famous dramas. He has never forced me to watch any of them, but I bought the DVDs recently, so I plan to watch them.
2. Has he given you any advice on acting?
Oh, loads. That was actually how we got to know each other when we filmed the vampire series together. If you don't know him, he can seem very cool and a little standoffish.
But when you do talk to him and he sees that you're really interested in acting and want to do better, then he's super enthusiastic and wants to help you out. And I trust his advice completely; it makes me believe that I will get better at acting.
3. People had doubts about your relationship with Kevin Cheng because of the 22-year age gap. Does the age gap matter to you?
Not at all. It's more important how well I can communicate with my significant other. People close to me know that I'm serious about this relationship.
He's my first serious boyfriend and this is my longest relationship so far. Even Kevin couldn't believe it. He was like, "A year is your longest relationship? Seriously?"
4. What made you join the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant?
I've watched the pageant on TV ever since I was little and the contestants always represented confidence and poise to me. I longed to be a part of that. I thought joining the pageant would help me feel more confident as a woman as well.
TVB then offered me an acting contract, so the acting came afterwards.
5. You never dreamt of becoming an actress?
Not at all. When I was younger, I thought I would become a teacher. Now that I've tried acting though, I'm really enjoying it.
I'm new to this, so I try to do what I can to improve. I watch a lot of movies with my boyfriend and we're always looking at how different actors act.
Watching movies used to be mindless entertainment for me. Now, I study them.
6. You cannot read Chinese characters. How do you study your TVB scripts?
I write Cantonese pinyin on all my scripts. If you live and work in Hong Kong, you can't expect that everything will be in English.
Growing up, my dad always spoke to me in Cantonese, so at least I can speak it. But I can't read Chinese, so I have to put in double the effort with my scripts.
7. TVB is known to have punishing work schedules. Have you experienced that already?
I've gone for 50 hours with zero sleep. I don't know how I did it.
But when you're so busy, you don't think about it until you suddenly realise that you haven't slept in two days.
But I love what I'm doing. So somehow, you get through that kind of thing.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
Someone who loved her family and loved God. No one is famous forever. No one is going to remember you for eternity.
As long as I maintain my relationships with all the people that I love, that's all that matters.
This article was first published on March 28, 2016.
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