2019 sure has been a whirlwind for Star Search 2019 finalist Gini Chang (also known as Chang Hio Cheng). The Macau native quit her job as a primary school teacher and moved to Singapore after being scouted by Vivian Lai on Orchard Road.
When the hot favourite didn’t place in the top three, we wondered if we would ever have a chance to see her on local TV again. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for an answer as news that all the finalists were being offered contracts was announced less than 48 hours after the finals concluded. Not only that, all 12 have been offered parts in upcoming Channel 8 drama, All Around You.
When we caught up with Gini before she began work on the series, the 25-year-old, who had just returned from her trip to Taiwan, shared, “I’m feeling much more refreshed and settled after my trip. I spent four days in Taiwan with my friends. We decided to go on this trip halfway through Star Search - regardless of the outcome, I felt that I needed to get away and take a good break to settle myself down after the entire competition.”
Before she headed for her holiday, however, she went back home to Macau to see her family and to tie up some loose ends before coming back to Singapore.
“I heard about the contract not long after I got back home,” she laughed. “I bought a one-way ticket home after the contest, so being offered a contract was totally unexpected.”
Even if she wasn’t offered a contract by Mediacorp, Gini explained, she wouldn’t have returned to her teaching job.
The budding actress let on, “When I quit my job, I was very sure that I wanted to go into showbiz. Even if I couldn’t do so in Singapore, I wouldn’t have gone back to my old job. It’s just something inside me that told me that acting is for me. Thankfully, I didn’t have to think about alternatives - before that happened, we got the good news that we were all being offered a job here.”
While Gini was home, she was treated to home-made soups by her parents, which she mused was probably their language of love.
She shared, “We don’t say mushy things like ‘I missed you’ but even then, I could feel that they missed me. They cooked so much food, and since I missed their soup so much, they made sure that it was the first thing that they prepared for me after I got off the plane and went home.”
Her parents also flew all the way from Macau to support her during the Grand Finals, something that she thinks helped her focus better on the contest.
Rather than feeling pressured by her parents watching her on stage, she said, “There’s something about having someone that you know in the audience - like you know that they’re there for you and cheering for you no matter what happens. The kind of assurance that I felt is hard to explain, but I felt very thankful that they were there for me.”
As for the prospect of moving to Singapore - at least for now - Gini revealed that she more than happy to pack her bags for good.
“I feel very reassured. Our mentor told us that it doesn’t matter where we place in the contest, and it’s what we do after the competition that really matters. Honestly, I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t be offered a contract, but looking back at the entire Star Search journey, I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to do which was to challenge myself to improve. I’m still very new to showbiz, so there was a lot for me to learn.”
Gini added that she will be spending the next two years - at the very least - on our little red dot as she hones her skills in not just acting, but hopefully hosting and singing.
She laughed, “I’m actually pretty bad at singing. I’m just saying that I hope to improve, but it’s not like I’m a fantastic singer, so please don’t get your hopes up too high. I hope to become an artiste who is continuously improving herself and becoming better at her craft day by day.”
All Around You debuts on Toggle (to be renamed as meWATCH in January 2020) on February 28, 2020.
All Around You debuts on Channel 8 at March 2, 9pm.