Ya Hui Used To Call Herself "Serene", So Why Did She Drop The Name After 2 Years?
Does she look like a 'Serene' to you?
It’s been 15 years since Ya Hui, 35, entered showbiz as a Star Search hopeful and since then, we've found out a few interesting things about her.
Like her close friendship with Chen Liping, her ability to cook mee hoon kueh, and how she was crowned prom queen in junior college.
Yet, here’s a new fun fact we never knew about Ya Hui: She used to be called Serene.
The actress recently revealed that surprising moniker of hers in an interview with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, and it prompted us to give her a call to find out more.
Ya Hui quickly clarified that her English name, or "Christian name", as she calls it, was very temporary.
“I think it was during secondary two, I was looking for a Christian name, but couldn’t think of one. I was very active, and you know, not girly enough so my brother decided to call me ‘Serene’ [in hopes] I would become ‘tamer’ and more ladylike,” said Ya Hui, who went to Manjusri Secondary School.
However, she eventually felt the name was not suitable for her 'cos she's basically the total opposite of a ‘Serene’, which means calm, peaceful and tranquil.
It’s not like she didn’t try to make 'Serene' work though.
She wrote the name on files and worksheets in school. Her friends, though, never acknowledged her as 'Serene' and would laugh at her instead .
"They said it was totally not me," recalled Ya Hui, who then said she dropped 'Serene' after two years.
So does she still want an English name?
"I can't find one that suits me," she said. "Actually can lah... Yahoo lor. (Laughs)"
What about a more glamorous stage name?
"I've never thought of that," she said, before reminding us that she used to go by her full name 'Xu Ya Hui' (or Koh Yah Hwee, for those who have followed her career since Star Search).
She eventually dropped her surname so her name would be easier to remember. Also, she was inspired by other stars whose Chinese names were made up of only two words, like Xiang Yun and Kym Ng aka Zhong Qin.
“Actually, up until today, there are many people who don’t know my surname. They actually think 'Ya' is a surname (laughs),” Ya Hui revealed.
Before we could ask Ya Hui if she had ever sought the advice of fortune tellers about changing her name, she offered, “I’ve never been to the fortune teller because I don’t believe in suan ming ( or 'reading of one's fortune' in English). I believe that your fate is in your own hands."
"But I've been tempted many times 'cos my friends would go and they would tell me how accurate it was," she said, before adding that it's her stubborn Taurus personality that makes her stick to her beliefs.
The night before our interview, Ya Hui had gone on TikTok live (a platform that she’s very active on, btw) to chat with her followers.
When one of them asked if she thought of herself as pretty, Ya Hui described herself as “nai kan”, which means she has a look that grows on you.
"I'm very self-aware," she said when we quizzed her about her statement. "There are other stars whom you meet for the first time and you go “Wah very pretty" or "Wah very handsome”. I'm certainly not at that level."
FYI: Ya Hui won the Miss Telegenic title in Star Search so maybe she's being a little hard on herself.
So which of her colleagues has she been stunned by?
She paused to think for a moment before decisively landing on her Babies on Board co-star Jesseca Liu.
“No matter how many times you see her, you would still be dazzled by her,” said Ya Hui.
Photos: Ya Hui/ Instagram