“We haven’t interacted much with each other yet, but we chatted for a bit just now and we also met at the imaging session [for the drama]," says Chantalle about Zetong. "I think he’s very friendly and I look forward to working with him! In fact, my mum and I were already placing our bets on Zetong [to win Star Search] when the Top 24 was revealed!"
"I think he is quite a natural actor," continues Chantalle. "He has a good grasp of Mandarin and he is able to articulate his thoughts well. He also has good stage presence, and you know, it’s Star Search where you’re looking for a star, and he definitely has that star quality.”
Sounds like pretty high praise from the actress. And even though Chantalle is a relative newbie herself, she still has some advice to offer her co-stars who are fresh out of Star Search.
“Firstly, memorise your lines," she says. "When you come on set, you’ll definitely be nervous ‘cos it’s a new character that you’re trying to portray. You may have a lot to think about, like how your character would walk, talk, smile… But the most important thing is to memorise your lines ‘cos if you don’t, how are you going to act? Secondly, try to be as natural as possible."
Chantalle and her mum Lin Meijiao
In All Around You, Chantalle plays a “strong, clever team leader of a public relations agency” but she tells us she’s still figuring out how to PR in real life.
“Honestly, I don’t think I'm good at it. It’s something that is difficult for me, and I dislike it ‘cos I prefer genuine interaction. But it is a part of my job where I have to force myself to do it. While it is not awkward for me to approach a stranger and talk to them, I really prefer genuine interaction. However, I’ve learnt over the years that instead of thinking of it as having to PR with someone, I think of it as sincerely trying to make a friend. And this has worked out for me,” she says.
All Around You also marks the first time a drama headlined by Chantalle, who has played the lead in a number of Toggle Original series, will be shown on Ch 8. But ask the actress who her leading lady is and she'll say it's her mum.
By now, everyone probably knows how close mother and daughter are. The newbie actress was single-handedly raised by Meijiao, who filed for divorce from former Ch 8 actor Huang Yiliang after six years of marriage when Chantalle was just a few months old.
“Growing up in single-parent family has allowed me to be more mature and independent. In fact, I find myself in situations where I emerged stronger than I think I am, especially when it is something related to my mum. I find myself very protective of her and I feel the need to be the strong one for her,” Chantalle tells us.
“I’m quite happy [with life] now but my biggest fear is still losing somebody I love. Time is something you can’t control and to see my mum age… is something that is frightening," she adds.
Pretty and cool
So while the chatty Chantalle is effusive with praise when talking about her 55-year-old mum, she quickly becomes taciturn when the topic of her father, former actor Huang Yiliang, and his recent assault case comes up.
Chantalle’s dad was charged in court last Friday (Nov 29) for assaulting a man with a metal scraper in December 2018 and for disrupting public peace by fighting with another man this June. It’s not the first time Huang Yiliang has been in the news for similar reasons. In 2012, he was fined $3,000 for assaulting a woman who failed to clean up after her dog.
When we ask if she has seen the news regarding her dad, Chantalle nods. Her manager then jumps in to say that the actress won't be answering any questions about him. "Can we just talk about the drama?" her manager adds, while Chantalle, caught in this difficult situation, looks on apprehensively.
“Um… I will avoid answering questions about him…” she offers before we change the topic.
Chantalle and Edwin
So now that we know who the leading lady in her life is, is there a leading man?
“I hope to find someone who is kind and genuine,” the still-single star laughs. “He has to be stable, funny and kind. Kindness is something I really look for. When I find a boyfriend, it's for the long-term so can you imagine being with someone who is mean? I don’t wanna torture myself like that.”
When we ask her if there's anything going on between her and Edwin Goh, who she's gotten very close to after acting together in Old is Gold, Chantalle immediately tells us that it’s impossible.
“(Laughs) Edwin and I? No way! But you know, one shouldn’t shouldn’t speak too early 'cos you may never know what will happen in the future. But with me and him… I’m very, very confident of our friendship. (Laughs) It’s definitely not romantic at all. We’re really just good friends. It’s difficult to find someone like that, especially in showbiz. He’s like my 'solid' bro," she smiles.
Chantalle and Zetong at the imaging session for All Around You
Photos: Mark Lee/ 8days.sg and Mediacorp Photo Unit
All Around You is available on demand for free on Toggle from Feb 28, 2020 and premieres Mar 2, 2020, 9pm on Ch 8.