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SINGAPORE: After a 10-year hiatus, Fiona Xie is making a return to Mandarin television.
“No one thought that I’d actually be back!” said the 36-year-old with a laugh. “I don’t know – maybe this marks a new beginning.”
Xie stars alongside Elvin Ng, Zhang Yaodong, Tong Bingyu, Dawn Yeoh and more in Gifted, a crime thriller that was filmed in Malaysia. She plays an accomplished businesswoman who is also “a very powerful, very scary lady who will go to great lengths to make sure that she gets what she wants”.
As such, audiences will see “a different Fiona… a sort of 2.0 version. She’s not My Little Genie anymore.”
Xie shared that she wasn’t particularly looking to act in a Channel 8 drama, but was approached by executive producer Yeo Saik Pin. She had previously collaborated with him on shows such as 2004’s The Champion, in which she famously sprinted down Orchard Road in a bikini.
It was her “nostalgia” for acting that led her to say yes, said Xie, and this sentiment was triggered by the time she spent filming for Crazy Rich Asians in Kuala Lumpur. In the Hollywood movie, she plays the gold-digging Kitty Pong.
“We had such a fun time. I loved being in KL so much. I had so many Malaysian friends,” she said.
When she got the call from Yeo, “I said I don’t know if I can do this. I haven’t read or spoken Mandarin in so many years. He was like, no, no. It’s very simple. Just come back.
"On my first day on set, I flipped open the script and found that I had the most lines in the entire show – and they were filled with business jargon! I was so nervous. I literally had to write everything out in hanyu pinyin. But it’s nice to challenge myself.”
A RETURN TO ACTING FOR GOOD?
Although it’s her first Channel 8 drama in a decade, it isn’t her first acting project in recent years. In 2016, following sojourns in Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo, she returned to Singapore and starred in the Channel 5 drama Left Behind.
With Crazy Rich Asians set to premiere in August, does this mark Xie’s official return to an acting career?
“Never say never,” she said with a smile. “It’s a luxury to have the freedom to be able to pick the projects and the people that I really would love to work with, and I think at this point, I would like to have everything be organic.
"This is the start of my (rekindled) love affair with Mandarin and being on a Channel 8 set again. You miss the little things. You miss the scripts, you miss the stress. Yes, you do miss the stress! I’ve been so comfortable for so long, doing all the things I love, and sometimes, when you push the envelope a little bit, it really gears you up," she said.
"And after globetrotting, you really start missing home, your old colleagues, the crew, and everybody.”
What’s more, “it’s interesting to be acting alongside people like Elvin Ng, who wasn’t even in Mediacorp when I was around. We literally found him on a variety gameshow that I hosted, School Belle and the Beau. From being a student to being Channel 8’s No. 1 poster boy for screaming girls – it’s really nice to see his evolution.”
As for whether she has more Channel 8 projects lined up, Xie said: “I’m always open. I’m not actively looking. But if it happens, it happens.”
Catch Gifted starting July 9 at 9pm on Mediacorp TV Channel 8.