Hong Kong Actress Wins Lead in Movie with 'Swiri' Star

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Hong Kong Actress Wins Lead in Movie with 'Swiri' Star

Twenty-year-old Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung (Chinese name Zhang Baizhi) is fast gaining ground in the competitive showbiz industry - not only in Hong Kong, but in other Asian countries including Korea. Miss Cheung's youth hasn't prevented her from portraying a mature depth of emotion that is seeing her making a steady rise to fame.

In 1999 she played an innocent, inexperienced nurse in the film "Sung Won," winning hearts and sparking a boom in the popularity of Hong Kong romance movies in Korea.

Miss Cheung is currently filming her next project in Korea. She has teamed up with Choi Min-shik, one of Korean cinema's leading players, in "Failan," a down-to-earth romance movie set to premier in April.

In this role, Miss Cheung is seeking to cast off her innocent image to play Venus, a mature woman who falls in love with a third-rate criminal played by Mr. Choi.

"I love to be involved in film and consider every step of filmmaking valuable. It's really refreshing and challenging to act in Korea," said Miss Cheung in a press conference at the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Plaza on December 18.

Song Hae-sung, "Failan" director, has only praise for Miss Cheung's abilities. "Despite her youth, she has great empathy for her characters as well as the means to express a diverse range of emotions with sensitivity," he said.

"When I first met her in Hong Kong, I was impressed by her ability to analyze the current state of the film industry - and her great passion. All my worries regarding her age and experience instantly faded away."

In "Failan" - which means "white orchid" in Chinese - Miss Cheung plays a Chinese woman who enters a marriage of convenience with a Korean man in order to stay in Korea to work. She is unaware that the man she is marrying - and the man with whom she will eventually fall in love - is a low-grade gangster.

Mr. Choi said he is getting on well with his co-star despite Miss Cheung's beginner Korean. "It's a lot of fun to work with her, in spite of the language barrier. When we act, we just know through feelings what the other wants to say," he said.

Recently, Cecilia Cheung was singled out as the "next big thing" in the Hong Kong show business by Leslie Cheung, Hong Kong's "King of Cantonese Pop." He reportedly offered her free acting lessons, praising her potential, but she said no.

"I was never taught how to act through any formal tuition, but I know by instinct," Miss Cheung said. "In every role, I know I have to do my best to give myself up to it, and put myself fully into it, as a sponge absorbs water. As far as acting goes, I aim for the 'natural' concept."

Among Miss Cheung's acting credits are roles in the movies "King of Comedy" (1999), "The Legend of Speed" (1999) and "Twelve Nights" (2000). She has also released five albums including the hit "Destination" (1999) and her recent release, "Cecilia Cheung."

"Although there is a saying that if you run after two hares, you will catch neither, I hope to succeed on both acting and singing fronts," Miss Cheung said.

Let's hope that her future does not include being consigned to the empty "flower vase" roles given to many young, pretty actresses.

by Kim Jae-seon

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