Mediacorp drama My Star Bride has been enjoying high ratings and rave reviews — even from non-Singaporeans who don’t appear to speak Mandarin.
According to lead actress Chantalle Ng, who plays Vietnamese bride Mei Fangcao, she would often see “hundreds of very encouraging comments” on Facebook posts about the show from local Chinese dailies.
“I was really overwhelmed by all the positive feedback,” she told 8days.sg over the phone one afternoon last week.
The most memorable response she received was from someone who had shown their Vietnamese friends a clip of her speaking in character. “They asked, ‘Is this actress Vietnamese?’ and I thought, ‘Wow, that is like the highest form of validation to me!’” she chuckled.
The 25-year-old also shared that Vietnamese fans have left comments on her social media praising her performance… or at least, she thinks it’s praise. “Some of them write in Vietnamese, which I can’t read, but there are heart and smiley face emojis so I assume it’s positive! (Laughs)”
All that acclaim is a far cry from what Chantalle was initially bracing herself for when she took on the role.
When we asked if she, as a Singaporean Chinese actress, was worried about being accused of disrespecting real Vietnamese people with her portrayal, she admitted that that was her primary concern throughout production.
“When we just started filming this drama, it was all about ‘cancel culture’, with people trying to ‘cancel’ this person and that person,” she said, referring to the practice of withdrawing support for a public figure after they’ve done something that’s deemed offensive. “And accents and cultures are very sensitive topics, so it was a really big concern for me.”
‘Cos of this, Chantalle was debating whether to act using her natural way of speaking Chinese, but she realised it wouldn’t make sense as Fangcao grew up in a village in Vietnam with only her neighbour as her Chinese teacher, so she shouldn’t be expected to be extremely fluent.
“I was like, okay, if I use an accent, I might get into trouble, but if I don’t use an accent, I might also get into trouble ‘cos it would seem like I’m not committed to the role at all,” she pondered. “Either way, there was a chance I might get into trouble for this role, so it was a risk that I realised I had to take since I’d already been cast.”