Interview: Actress Cherrie Ying on new role as online TV producer

Creating the show Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right from nothing is hard work but more fulfilling, says Taiwanese star, who's happy to get away from syrupy TV love stories online

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 August, 2015, 11:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 August, 2015, 11:58am

48 HOURS: What is your new online television drama, Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right, about?

CHERRIE YING: It's based on a popular book set in a mental hospital. The online drama, which I am working with LeTV on, will have 30 episodes, each 20 minutes long and will tell 15 stories. The stories revolve around a man who interviews some of the patients. What the book and the show explore is the idea that there's a fine line between genius and madness. And that these individuals can share many traits. I liked the book and the opportunity to shoot it just happened to come up.

What do you think about the transition from traditional TV to online content? We are aiming for people who are younger and they go online and watch shows. We want to make the stories more interesting and not just be typical love stories. In China over the past two years, online TV has become a huge thing. Young people want to watch more stuff that is not available on TV channels.

How is being a producer different to being an actress? I am more into the financial aspect of things. I have to make sure the production is not over budget. I pick all the directors, actors and actresses. I also look more into things such as lighting, hair styling and make-up. It's different to being an actress because the production is my baby. I created it from nothing and now it's almost finished. As an actress, once I finish filming I go home. Now I need to know all the logistics.

Getting into schools in Hong Kong is becoming very competitive. What are your plans for your son's education? I picked a pre-school that's more like schools in America. It's an international school that is less intense than some of the local ones. I don't want him to go to a very intense school. I think he will go back to the US or study abroad in the future. I speak Mandarin and English with him at home.

Both you and your husband are in the entertainment industry. Do you have any aspirations for your son to follow in your footsteps? He can do anything he wants, but we actually kind of want to prevent him from going into acting.

You were born in Taiwan and grew up in America. What was it like coming to Hong Kong and working in the film industry? A lot of actors in Hong Kong come from other countries: I would say about 40 per cent. When I signed my contract with the entertainment company, I had just taken my SAT [college exam] and was expecting to act for just a year. But I ended up staying longer and my parents also moved to Hong Kong. My first movie was in English, but in this environment you have to learn very fast. The director yells at you in Cantonese and you have to know what he is saying.

What would you have studied if you stayed in America? I thought about computer science. But now, I think it might be too boring.