Joyce Cheng Yan-yee Is Done With Haters
The daughter of late actress and TVB legend Lydia Shum and actor Adam Cheng Siu-chow continues to make her mother proud with her first business, Homie Cookies.
I grew up in Canada. We all grew up with those ooey gooey soft chocolate chip cookies that you make at home. I moved to Hong Kong in 2006. I spent a large chunk of my life going through major dieting. I was seeing a nutritionist; I was taking western as well as Chinese medicine to help me lose weight. My life was to lose weight. I allowed society’s mentality of “you will only fit in” or “you will only shine if you fit this mold” [to get to me]. I was only 16—I don’t think I had found myself yet and I just wanted approval from everyone.
My mom and dad separated when I was eight months old. My mom had always worked in Hong Kong. I pretty much lived by myself. I don’t think I had to grow up extra quick, I just think I did. It’s definitely not normal, not the type of thing I would want my own kids to go through. In the most ideal world, I would like them to have a complete family with mom and dad present. With different circumstances, you never know.
I think my mom did the best that she could. My mom has always been my hero. She was always just such a tough lady. She herself was also a very cheerful, positive person. Her image was the “happy fruit” [one of Lydia Shum’s nicknames]. It made me think: You always had to bring this positive energy to people, but what if you have a bad day? Who’s supposed to make you happy? You don’t really have anyone to do that for you.
“If you’re a water jug and you keep pouring out, you have to refill at some point.”
If you’re a water jug and you keep pouring out, you have to refill at some point. It’s like she had endless amounts of energy and endless amount of goodness to give to people. That was very admirable. Her work ethic was also just amazing.
There were 300-plus complaints made [about Cheng’s appearance during her performance as Snow White at the opening of Disneyland Hong Kong in 2005]. I thought it was a joke. I was just a kid back then. I was quick to move past it, but it wasn’t quick for my mother. She was really offended. I’d be on the phone with my mom, and I kept on telling her “the sky won’t fall down.”
The thing with tabloids is, the more you fight back, the more material they have. So I always told my mom: Don’t let them win.
I never really get emotional when I think about my mom anymore, because it’s been eight years now since she passed away. But there are moments when I have really happy shit I want to share with her but then I can’t. Until the end of 2013, I was kind of in a slump on the entertainment side of my work. I wasn’t getting a lot of jobs, I put out an album but people didn’t really know about it. So I was really frustrated.
I said: “Eff this. I’m just going to make cookies for the rest of my life!” We all need one of those days when we just don’t give a shit and eat whatever we want to eat. I started with making cookies initially just for myself and my then-boyfriend. Then I started making them for friends and they said “Joyce, this is serious shit. You should sell this!” It was super satisfying to make something for others and for them to be really happy. It made me happy too.
I’d never done anything business-related. I’d only ever done entertainment industry stuff. I thought I’d be biting off more than I could chew. I took some photos of my cookies, I made an Instagram and a Facebook account, and the orders just started coming in.
“We all need one of those days when we just don’t give a shit and eat whatever we want to eat.”
I will star in a new movie soon, an artsy film. I’ve only ever done comedic roles, so I’m really excited to explore this different side of myself. It’s exciting to know that there’s this different side of me too. For a while I kept thinking, “Wow: this is it, huh. No one’s ever going to take me seriously. Being a second generation “celebrity”—I don’t like using that word—people already have a certain view of you.
My biggest struggle in life so far is that I’m really afraid people won’t take me seriously. There’s always this nagging fear in the back of my brain that all my accomplishments will go away, once people remember, “Wait, her mom’s gone, we don’t have to help her anymore.” I know people don’t think that, but it’s still a fear.
I was in a bad place when I started Homie Cookies. I didn’t have much confidence in myself, and I was scared I would be a turn-off: That once people found out it was me, they wouldn’t want to try it. But people are slowly starting to pick up on the way I view life and the way I want to live life—without me needing to show anyone. Whenever there’s negativity, there’s no point in fighting it. Once people make up their minds about something, their minds are made up. You’re just going to waste your breath, or you’re going to get them more riled.
The most important thing to do is to continue doing what you’re passionate about and you know that you didn’t do anything wrong. What I want to say to haters is: Stop hating so much. Stop stressing so much. You’ll live a happier life. Have a cookie. Be happy.