My mother is Chinese from Hong Kong and moved to the UK to study accounting, which is where she met my father. He is originally from Ghana but is British. They got married and I was born in Chelmsford (Essex, in southern England) in 1985. When I was six, my parents split up and my mum decided to move back to Hong Kong to have the support of her family – she has seven siblings. At first, we lived with my grandmother in Mid-Levels, on Hong Kong Island. She didn’t speak a word of English, so I was forced to learn Cantonese really fast. Despite being an only child, I never felt lonely because I had loads of cousins and felt like I was part of a big family. We all lived within 10 minutes of each other, it was amazing. Back then, interracial couples were rare and, growing up, I didn’t know anyone else who was a mix between black and Asian. We were a very close-knit family and spent weekends together and went to the Country Club together. Creative licence My mum’s professional life was super busy, she was an accountant and a financial controller and worked long hours. There were many nights when she came home from work at 1am. In terms of quantity, I didn’t spend much time with her, but she was aware of my interests. What next for Hong Kong’s former go-to Cantonese-speaking white actor? Growing up, I was obsessed with dogs and all I ever wanted to do was visit dog shows and volunteer at shelters at the weekend. She was so supportive and was there for me at the weekends if I wanted to go to a shelter or a show. I went to Glenealy School in Mid-Levels and loved drawing. For high school, I went to Island School (also in Mid-Levels), I was interested in experimenting with fashion. I wasn’t someone who followed trends or wore what everyone else was wearing. I’d watch MTV and see JLo [singer Jennifer Lopez] wearing a crazy cowboy hat and decide I needed to get a cowboy hat. I didn’t care what people thought, I really embraced expressing myself. As a young girl who didn’t look Chinese but was part of a Chinese family, who was half Ghanaian, whose parents were divorced, who’d moved to Hong Kong at a young age, I think I was finding out who I was and expressing it through different creative channels. Religious education When it came to university, I looked to the United States. Growing up in Hong Kong, where we were influenced by MTV, the US appealed as somewhere that I could express my creativity and individuality. The University of Southern California (USC) had an office in Hong Kong and arranged talks at our school, plus the Californian climate was attractive to me, so I went there in 2003 to study communications. In my first year, I was late in applying for housing and the only accommodation available was in what they called the “special interest” floors, for people who were religious. I was put on the Muslim side and there was a small bridge across to the Jewish side. I made a lot of Muslim friends. The people on the Jewish side invited me to their Friday night dinners when they celebrated the Sabbath, I really enjoyed it and learning about their religion. In my second year, I came back to Hong Kong for the Christmas holiday. On Christmas Day I went to The Edge, a live-music bar, with my best friend from high school, and that’s where I met Jonathan. He had also gone to USC but is nine years my senior and had graduated. He is super familiar with Los Angeles and has friends there and he started visiting me there every two or three months. A new direction Living in LA, I missed the efficiency of Hong Kong and after I graduated in 2007, I moved back. I worked in real estate at Hong Kong Homes for about a year while I was deciding what to do. Jonathan proposed to me on the promenade in Repulse Bay. His family isn’t religious and, when I met him, I wouldn’t have said he was a practising Jew. It was me who decided to convert. I had enjoyed my experience with my Jewish friends at university and felt that it was a family-oriented religion. I had already been going to the synagogue and observing the Jewish holidays and doing some learning with the rabbi’s wife. Then I went to a small mountaintop town called Tzfat in Israel to study to become Jewish. I wanted to convert to Orthodox Judaism. It was super intense, getting up early, going to class until about 5pm, and then dinner, a little free time and then bed. I studied there for four months, then came back to Hong Kong and flew to Sydney for my conversion where I went in front of a panel of rabbis and they asked me a bunch of questions. After that, the rabbi said he thought I was ready. My orthodox Jewish casino wedding We got married in 2009. To do an Orthodox wedding, the entire kitchen needs to be kosher, all the plates need to be kosher or all be brand new. There is a lot of work that goes into it and the kitchen can’t be used for two days before the wedding while it is cleaned. Jonathan’s father ( Hong Kong entrepreneur Allan Zeman ) is chairman of the Wynn casino in Macau, so he suggested we do it there. It just so happened that beside the ballroom was a kitchen that hadn’t been used in years and there were brand new plates that had never been used – it was perfect. So we had an Orthodox Jewish wedding in a casino. Our first son was born the following year. We now have four children, two boys and two girls. Priscilla Chan opens up about life with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg A girl’s best friend Just before my third child, I started working at the Lan Kwai Fong Group in the marketing department. I was enjoying that but wanted to find a creative outlet, so for fun, I started designing jewellery for myself. I wanted to create something that would remind me of my children. We have a family friend who had been in the diamond jewellery industry for decades, so I did some sketches and sent them over and after some back and forth came up with something that I was happy with. It was made of diamonds and 18-carat gold. I loved the process of researching and drawing and tweaking and working out what could technically be done; it used a part of my brain that had lain dormant. I made a few small pieces, necklaces and earrings, and started wearing them. Friends started asking where I’d got my jewellery and asked me to make pieces for them. I’m quite a sociable person and enjoy sharing my passion, so a year later, in 2019, I hosted a small trunk show with about 20 pieces. It went better than I expected, I sold almost everything. That was a huge turning point and I started my own jewellery line, Boochier, at the end of that year. In hope of travel Stylistically, my jewellery is very different from when I first started; the brand has evolved. Most of the jewellery is bright and colourful and we use a lot of enamel now. I have had so much help compared to female entrepreneurs in other places. For me, it’s about quality over quantity and I make sure I’m always present when I’m with my children and aware of their passions and I try to make time for that. One of the biggest struggles for me professionally has been not being able to travel. As a mother of four children, even a one-week quarantine is really hard. I have a three-year-old son and I don’t want to be away from him for three weeks at a time. I hope things continue to improve in Hong Kong so I’m able to travel more. I would love to be able to do a couple of trunk shows in London and get a feel for the market. We are in Phuket, Thailand, at the moment with the children and plan to come back at the end of June. I’m very hopeful that things will continue to improve in Hong Kong.