Miriam Yeung on her love for Wonder Woman, gaining wisdom through time, and her upcoming Canto-pop concert series
We catch up with the Canto-pop star and actress at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao, where she talks about her ideal roles and how growing up and having a child have changed how she sings her songs
Dressed in a fiery red gown with matching lipstick, Hong Kong pop star Miriam Yeung Chin-wah is all set and ready for the opening night of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao when we catch up with her just before she hits the red carpet.
“Attending a film festival is a really eye-opening experience, even for an actor, because you can see a lot of films from different countries within a fixed period of time. It is almost like you’re touring the world,” says Yeung, who is one of four talent ambassadors – alongside actors Donnie Yen and Jeremy Renner, and South Korean singer Do Kyung-Soo, member of the band EXO – for the second edition of the festival.
Among the 53 films to be screened at the event, which runs until December 14, there are two films that Yeung is particularly looking forward to: The Shape of Water, the critically acclaimed fantasy romance directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and Suburbicon, a crime thriller directed by George Clooney.
“Being a stage performer myself, I am very curious about film genres that I may not have the opportunity to explore, especially creations that are rooted in the local culture of other countries,” says Yeung, 43.
“People may think actors are always doing similar things, but how well you know your character and the attention you pay to the smallest detail is a real test of skill, and that is something I am still learning,” says the award-winning actress, who says she wants to try more different roles in the future.
“I know very well my foundation is as a comedy actress,” says Yeung, whose most notable roles include Cherie in the Love in the Puff romantic comedy film series opposite Shawn Yue Man-lok, and as a policewoman in Love Undercover (2002).
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“But there are many different types of comedies and I have never been in a film about black humour or satire. Those roles require actors to have a better sense of timing and more life experience, and they are something I really hope to try.”
Another genre she wants to star in is action films, says Yeung, a superhero film fan. Her favourite film of the year may well be Wonder Woman , as she dressed up as the character for Halloween and also dropped an eponymous single in September, inspired by not just the female superhero, but also the Israeli actress Gal Gadot who played the role.
“I read her interviews and really felt for the struggles she has been through such as casting rejections and shooting while pregnant. As an actor, there are many factors that are out of your control, but you have to be ready all the time, so when opportunity strikes, you can be successful,” she adds.
Incidentally, Wonder Woman will be the theme song of Yeung’s concerts, Miriam Yeung 3!2!1!Go! at the Hong Kong Coliseum at the end of this month, including one on New Year’s Eve. It is the singer’s seventh show at the venue over an almost two-decade career, yet every show feels just like the very first one, says Yeung.
“I still think about how I can sing each song and each word better. For many songs from a decade or two decades ago, I did not fully grasp the meanings of the lyrics written by Wyman Wong or Lin Xi then.”
“Now in my 40s, when I look back at A Maiden’s Prayer, the song takes on a whole new meaning. When I was younger, I wanted to become more mature as I thought more people would like me and I did not know the value of youth. When I got older, I realise the quality of being a maiden is not about your age, but your state of mind and temperament, and it becomes something I struggle to keep as life forces me to grow up,” says Yeung.
Since giving birth to her son Torres in 2012, the singer’s interpretation of the award-winning song which made her famous in 2000, has changed once again. Having her own son brought back childhood memories and reignited Yeung’s passion for her work, which also prompted her to hold this show.
The countdown theme is not just a celebration of a new year. “There is a deeper and more serious meaning to me. One’s life, from birth to death, is a countdown,” says Yeung. “And every low point in life can be the start of something new.”
Yeung’s schedule is tight as she has only six months to prepare for the concerts, rather than the customary 10. She spent five months training hard in the gym to build her stamina and strengthen her core. “It may seem crazy but those are the moments where I feel most alive and gain most satisfaction,” says Yeung.
“People ask why I train so hard just to single a couple of songs on stage. But you need to use your core muscles for every minute of the performance, even if just standing in heels. And just because you can sing will not automatically give you a strong core, it’s something you need to work on.”
For the upcoming show, Yeung will be performing on a thrust stage instead of an arena stage, something the seasoned artist has not attempted since her first gig in 2002. Yeung admits that she did not know how to command a thrust stage then, but this time she is experimenting with a show with more theatrical elements.
Yeung already has something bigger in mind for the coming year: improving her vocal skills and projection so she can perform on a bigger stage next time.