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Yip Wai Yee
Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

Showbiz

Telly's new faces

The Straits Times | Yip Wai Yee | Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

From left to right: Hong LIng, Sora Ma, Bonnie Loo and Carrie Wong.

A new crop of actresses are carving out a niche on Channel 8, taking on major roles alongside veterans. SundayLife! talks to stars Hong Ling, Sora Ma, Bonnie Loo and Carrie Wong.

HONG LING, 20

Showbiz start: Discovered on Channel U reality talent show Hey Gorgeous last year

Breakout role: Likely to be her upcoming role as the daughter of coffee shop owners Chew Chor Meng and Pan Lingling in the 190-episode drama 118

Watch her in: 118, premiering on Channel 8 on Oct 20 at 7.30pm

This exotic mixed-blood beauty knows she faces a big hurdle in her showbusiness career - her introverted nature.

Describing herself as "very, very shy", the daughter of a Thai mother and a Chinese Singaporean father says she is often at a loss for words in public situations - something that she hopes to overcome in the coming months.

"In between filming, the cast would gather to chat but I would always sit quietly by the side and just listen and smile," she tells SundayLife! in Mandarin.

"I am definitely worried that I'm too introverted for this career. At the same time, I am enjoying myself so much that I don't want to give up the acting opportunities coming my way. I should give this a shot."

She was shoved into the limelight after being discovered on Channel U's Hey Gorgeous last November. The reality talent TV contest scouts good-looking young people with star quality in schools across Singapore.

"I was just doing my own thing in school and the TV crew asked me to join the show," says Hong, who was then a second-year student at Temasek Polytechnic.

"I'm a very passive person, so I would never have signed up myself. But I'm glad they found me. I'm loving it so far and I think it will help build my confidence."

She has put her pursuit of a diploma in business in information technology on hold, a decision that she says her self- employed parents supported. But she has plans to resume her studies part-time.

Since her debut, she has played a number of bit parts in Channel 8 dramas such as the ongoing Against The Tide, but it is in the upcoming long-form drama 118 that she will truly get to shine.

In the 190-episode drama that premieres on Oct 20, she is the daughter of Chew Chor Meng and Pan Lingling, who play the owners of a popular coffee shop. One of the best parts about the role is getting to work closely with China-born hunk Xu Bin, who plays her elder brother in the show.

"I'm always excited to see him because I think he's so cute and sunny. He's probably my favourite among the '8 Dukes'," Hong, who is single, says unabasedly with a laugh.

"8 Dukes" refers to the group of eight hot young actors at Caldecott Hill who are hugely popular with young fans - Xu, Ian Fang, Shane Pow, Desmond Tan, Jeffrey Xu, Romeo Tan, Aloysius Pang and Zhang Zhenhuan.

Hong's other favourite among the eight is Fang. "I think he's so handsome and cool," she gushes.

Wow, where did that shyness go to?

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