Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
September 24, 2016
In the last three years, Hong Kong actress Sisley Choi seemed to be plagued with negative, controversial news.
Going by online polls and forums, the 25-year-old, who joined Hong Kong TV station TVB after coming in second at the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant in 2013, is one of the most-hated personalities in Hong Kong.
She has been labelled "rumour queen" for her scandals with co-stars Him Law, Ruco Chan and Adrian Chau. Her acting has been massively panned by TV viewers, who describe her high-pitched voice as "irritating".
Even more damning are her supposedly "phoney" educational qualifications. According to Apple Daily Hong Kong, Choi is being investigated by Concordia University Wisconsin after enrolling for a master's degree at the US college with allegedly forged qualifications.
She claimed to have a bachelor's degree from Bulacan State University in the Philippines, but intrepid netizens found it dubious that she managed to complete her degree programme in just two months.
In town yesterday to promote her new drama, Presumed Accidents, and the upcoming StarHub TVB Awards, Choi told The New Paper that she "is emotionally affected" by the endless online vitriol.
"I've worked so hard for my dramas and I want to feel appreciated by the audience," she said in English.
"Seeing so much hate online, I was disappointed. I cried a lot. I can't keep my emotions inside and pretend nothing has happened."
The "worst piece of news", she said without hesitation, was about her "fraudulent" college degree.
"I have not done anything wrong. But I can't clarify to the whole world what happened as it will affect too many parties," said Choi.
"I felt very upset when the allegation came out in the press. Many people believed what was reported."
Choi said it has "become a trend" for Hong Kong's beauty pageant contestants, such as herself and Miss Hong Kong 2013 winner-turned-TVB actress Grace Chan, to get slammed.
"Netizens tend to pick on us, we're victims," she said with a wry laugh.
"Maybe because we're suddenly in the spotlight, everyone has extremely high expectations of us. The minute we don't achieve perfection, we are criticised."
She admitted to being "scared" of the aggressive Hong Kong paparazzi.
"They write about me in a way that if you don't know me personally, you'd think that I'm a bad person who deserves to be in jail," she said.
"At my lowest, I'd ask myself, 'Why? Why? Why me? What I have done to deserve this?'"
Contrary to popular belief, Choi said her beauty pageant days were "far from being bitchy".
"All of us girls were friends, nobody made enemies," she said.
Aside from her industry pals, Choi also receives support from her mentor and acting coach, veteran Hong Kong movie star Anthony Wong, 55.
"He is understanding. We had dinner, and he comforted me when I was feeling down," she said.
"I respect him a lot and treasure his mentorship and friendship."
Choi plays the female lead in Presumed Accidents as an insurance investigator who partners a mysterious antique shop owner (Lawrence Ng) to solve fraud cases.
The crime series is airing on VV Drama (StarHub TV Ch 855) on weekdays at 8pm.
Choi is nominated in three categories, My Favourite TVB Actress, My Favourite TVB Female Character - for her performance in a previous drama Fashion War - and TVB Most Improved Artiste at the StarHub TVB Awards.
The annual local celebration of the best in Hong Kong TV dramas and variety programmes will be held at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 22. "I don't expect to win any award," said Choi.
"The only thing I want is to continue improving my acting and to get more people to like me."
This article was first published on September 24, 2016.
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