Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nnadia Chan - My Beijing Love Story

It's been a long time since we've heard from Nnadia Chan. (TN: Apparently Nnadia changed her named to 'Adia' last year, removing the double n's.) This time she comes back for the promotion of her new CD. Nnadia's acting career started at age 14 and her personal life ended at age 14 as well. In the past, her album had reached six platinum record sales before, even more powerful than Alan Tam. But, she wasn't happy and felt like a loner. "Aside from acting, I didn't know anything else. I was like living with disabilities."

20 years later (year 2005), the 34 year old Nnadia decided to end her acting career and officially start her personal life. "I gave all my LV handbags away because I really didn't need them." Materials were actually a burden to her, she had to get back to the basics in order to start her new life. In 2007, she met a Mainland actor Zhang Ze, 8 years her junior. The pleasant way to label this type of romance is "sister-brother love", but there are other medias that like to be more fierce, calling her "old cow eating young grass".

Nnadia: "God puts each person besides you for a reason. When you find your other half, age is basically not a concern. Why should I care about what others say?" Nnadia currently resides in Beijing, over there, she doesn't feel like a loner.

Hold Out Hands And Ask For Money

Where is Nnadia's home now? She didn't even pause to think of her answer, "Must be with my lover. My home is where ever he goes!"

What a heart warming response. Nnadia has never held back on expressing the love she has for her husband. Zhang Ze is from Harbin (Northeast China) and a graduate of Shanghai Theatrical Institute. Because of his outstanding academic record, the institute hired him to be an instructor. In the past years, he's been working both behind the scenes and on-screen, when he met Nnadia, he was working on the Chinese drama Blood Isn't Cold Yet (血未冷).

"His parents are in the communist party, thus he grew up being educated orthodoxically. At first, we really couldn't communicate. Of course, I wasn't his dream lover. The only type of Hong Kong actresses he knew were those like Vivian Chow or Rosamund Kwan. When I met him, I had short hair, very much like a tomboy."

The man had a little arrogance in him, but the woman was like who cares. Unexpectedly, the thousand mile fate had already been destined.

"Perhaps because he was a teacher before and has taken his students on a field trip to Europe before. He has a lot of self-confidence and has his own principles. Although I have more acting experience compared to him, I did not know anything about drama theory and thus I liked to listen to his theory talks. What part of me attracted him? I think its my simple and pure character. He has so many students, what type of girl hasn't he seen? I have never thought of myself to have any spot lights. The only thing I knew how to do was to try my best to be an upright person."

The local students studying drama each have their own goals, but encountering a girl from HK, who actually doesn't have her desires or demands, perhaps that is her spot light. The two had many common topics and when they finally realized they were 8 years apart, it was too late, they had already sank into the river of love.

"Due to the living conditions, he matured and learned to be independent early. His type is like a mountain, who would have known he was younger than me? Just by the looks, he didn't look younger! When I found out he was 8 years younger, I sent out a signal of retreat and the worries of a typical HK girl came right out: 'Men don't age that fast and they can easily keep it well...' I said to him, I have to consider on whether or not we should continue. He just said: 'I'm not afraid, what are you afraid of?'"

After getting through her psychological gateway, she had to get through future mother and father in-law's gateway too.

"At first, they really couldn't accept a HK girl and the fact that I'm older than their son. But because my husband is the only son, they just loved him too much. If their son liked this girl, then they could only accept it. They aren't hard to get along with, but I definitely had to spend some time to break the ice. I later realized honesty is the way to go for anything. Just say whatever is in your heart, slowly they understood whether I'm a '0' or '1' person, it really doesn't matter. We currently get along very well. They moved to Beijing as well. When I'm in HK too long, my husband would call me and say: 'My mom wants to say she misses you, hurry up and come back!'"

Ever since the couple got married in 2010, Nnadia's home was in Beijing. When her husband goes to other provinces for work, she would put on her tennis shoes, grab her backpack and follow him where ever he goes.

"It's not that I'm trying to check on my husband. Instead, I believe a marriage needs to be maintained. While at work, he needs someone to take care of his food and lodging! I take care of his everyday life necessities. He takes care of my brain."

Nnadia's husband knows she's clumsy woman, so he taught her a special catchphrase: "Hold out your hand and ask for money." (Say that in Mandarin)

"Actually, its 'ID-Cell-Keys-Money', meaning my ID card, cell phone, keys and wallet. I just have to remember to bring these 4 items whenever I walk out the door, then no matter where I go, I don't have to be afraid I can't make it home!"

Nnadia emphasized several times that her husband was the man God destined for her. Zhang Ze greatly loves and protects his wife as well, even if he's filming in Dalian, he would fly back to Beijing daily to see her. When she comes to HK for promotions, they would talk via face time and it's always going to be her husband making the calls. Consequently, Nnadia is more than willing to tone her jobs down and stay in Beijing to be his housewife.

"All of my old LV bags, I gave them all away. When it comes to bags, backpacks are actually more useful. The only thing I kept was my Cartier wrist watch because it still holds value. Living in Beijing the last several years, I re-integrated myself. It turns out, people actually have to smash themselves in pieces in order to grow up."

Still Felt Lonely

Nnadia's story, only the latter half is filled with happiness. It turns out the first half was all loneliness and sadness. At age 14, she participated in the Sally Yeh Impersonation Contest (part of Enjoy Yourself Tonight) and entered showbiz from there. She signed a contract with a record company and by the summer she became a singer. When she portrayed Zhou Xuan in the 1989 TVB series Song Bird, she was just 17 years old.

"Uncle Siu Sang (1980s producer) wanted to find a female lead and found me through my record company at the time. That time I was surprised myself. I was at home making soup and dropped the soup ladle I had in my hand from the surprise, then the soup over boiled and spilled all over my thigh. Uncle Siu Sang saw me lying in the hospital with a pitiful look, and gave me the Zhou Xuan role. I'm an Indonesian-Chinese, that time China basically had no knowledge whatsoever, but you tell me to do it, then I'll do it."

Her father is Indonesian and her mother has a bit of Spanish blood in her family. She possesses the qualities of a foreigner, she looked enthusiastic and simple. This face was rarely seen in HK. Nnadia instantly became popular once she debuted, the Song Bird OST reached 6 platinum record sales, which was more than Alan Tam's Illusion Stage selling that same year.

"I didn't know how to be happy, actually I was like a machine, operating 24 hours a day and didn't have any thoughts of my own. I watched the movie You Are the Apple of My Eye two years ago, but I didn't have much feeling because I have never experienced that type of feeling before. Once I debuted, I sang (Midnight Ten Minutes), then I was in Song Bird, that was a lonely feeling."

Encouraged to Drop Out of School

Back then, the young Nnadia didn't know she was feeling lonely, she just knew she wasn't happy. She insisted to continue on with her education and got into the Bible Seminary of Hong Kong, where she barely got through 2 years of studies. The one who could see her unhappiness was the university president.

"It was better in middle school, I was just studying on one side and acting on the other. The feeling was quite refreshing, but when I got to college, I started feeling exhausted. Aside from studying and acting, I did not have a life. The most disturbing was I insisted on not shooting kiss or bed scenes because when I got back to school, my classmates would point fingers at me. I really felt uncomfortable, but it wouldn't be professional for me to drop out because of that. I just didn't know what to do..."

The university's president actually encouraged her to stop school and concentrate entirely on her acting career.

"I was crying as I heard him say that to me because I thought he was rushing me away, but the adult saw right through me. It was probably because he saw the difficulties I had and I just wasn't aware."

Disabled Life

In 1993, Nnadia began working as a full-time actress. She was a female lead in several grand productions such as Instinct and Cold Blood Warm Heart.

"So what if I'm the female lead? My daily life was completely disabled. My water, gas and electric bills, I didn't know anything about them. I didn't know how to apply for a credit card, I didn't even know how to take the subway. That is not funny at all and not something to be proud of."

Her manager arranged everything for her, but in fact that made her feel like a useless person.

"From the start, I was just a student who mistakenly entered showbiz and foolishly rolled through 10 years in the industry. Basically, I have never really put my heart into acting. I didn't try, and taking a step back was the right thing to do."

In 2005, there was finally a turning point. She hired a new assistant, but the media reported she was a lesbian and because of this, she had a fall out with her manager, whom she had known for many years. It never rains, but it pours. Eventually the tumor in her ovary came back to haunt her and she had to go through surgery. When she recovered, her father passed away and suffering all those impacts, she just couldn't handle it and decided to leave [the industry].

"Since 1985 when I participated in that singing contest until 2005, it was already 20 years. I was really really tired. That year, too many unfortunate events happened. Since then, I felt completely unsecured about my future, I didn't want any money, my only goal was to leave HK. I could go to Taiwan, Singapore, where ever, even Hollywood or Bollywood I would have been willing to go!"

She didn't need to go to Bollywood, she had plenty of places to go in China. Just as long as she finds the right direction, that would be for life.

"Several years ago, I didn't cut my hair, didn't put on makeup and didn't dress up. I just wanted to be an ordinary person as much as possible. I wanted to be myself. One day I looked at myself in the mirror again and realized how long my hair has grown out. I came to realize that I finally didn't care about my image. It was that moment, I had truly grown up."

2013, now at the age of 42, Nnadia finally knows how to discipline herself.

"At present time, I'm ready for any combination in life. I still wait for a good script, I could sing again, but whatever it is, family is always in the first place."


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