SINGAPORE: Back in 1988, three aspiring actors named Zoe Tay, Chen Hanwei and Aileen Tan joined a talent show organised by the then SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) 8. Tay and Tan were named winner and runner-up of that inaugural Star Search, with Chen finishing as a finalist. All three signed on to become artistes.
Twenty-nine years later, the veteran actors have emerged as the biggest winners of the Mediacorp Star Awards, taking home the coveted Best Actress for Tay, Best Actor for Chen and Best Supporting Actress for Tan.
The Star Awards, which was held on Sunday (Apr 16) at the MES Theatre, is the annual Singapore award show that recognises and celebrates the best and brightest of local Mandarin television.
“This is the very first time since that very first Star Search that all three of us have won awards together!” said Tay in Mandarin backstage after her win. “So today is very special and emotional. Not just because of my own win, but also because both Hanwei and Aileen won as well. Especially Aileen.”
Tay, dubbed the Queen of Mediacorp, won only her second Best Actress trophy of her three decade-long career. She last won the award 21 years ago in 1996 for her role in The Golden Pillow.
This time round, she bested her fellow nominees- the younger generation of Mediacorp Channel 8 actress including Rui En and Jeanette Aw with a role that saw her playing a cancer-stricken nurse manager in the 2016 medical drama You Can Be An Angel 2.
Chen, who picked up his fifth Best Actor honour for his role as a confinement nanny in the family drama The Gentlemen, reiterated his admiration for fellow nominee Andie Chen, who he paid kudos to during his acceptance speech.
“For me, I was rooting for Andie Chen. I think he gave a very good performance,” said Chen in Mandarin. “I think he just hasn’t been very lucky during these awards. I really believe that one day he will stand on this stage and win the Best Actor award. I really want to encourage him.”
Andie Chen was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor this year, but lost out in both categories.
This fifth Best Actor win for Chen equals former actor Xie Shaoguang’s record.
Xie was one of Channel 8's biggest stars before he retired in 2005 and moved to Malaysia. He became an ordained Buddhist monk in 2013 but has since reportedly returned to secular life as a chef in a vegetarian eatery.
“If there really is one day that Shaoguang would come back to the entertainment industry to collaborate with both Zoe and I, that would really be great!” said Chen.
Tay agreed: “We can only hope! Shaoguang, please come back.”