By Marc Price
Yennis Cheung is a singer, actress and presenter. From a very humble upbringing Yennis is an amazing example of what hard work and determination can do. She is a great example, not only to asian and oriental performers, but to anybody who would like to work in the industry.
In real life Yennis is generous, loyal, down to earth and funny. She believes in human and animal rights and at Christmas performed at a show for the homeless.
She very kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us. I truly believe that Ms Cheung is only a lead role in a successful film away from global recognition….and I am sure that when that happens she will be just as willing to come back and answer a few more questions for us.
Marc Price: Hi Yennis how are you today?
Yennis Cheung: I’m very well thank you!
MP: How did you first get into acting?
YC: I was signed as recording artist with Sony music Hong Kong when I was a teen, then got put into film and TV working as an actress as well as a singer over there.
MP: Tell us about the success you had in China
YC: I had 3 solo albums out in HK and toured across Asia and, worked on a few movies, stage plays and TV shows.
MP: When and why did you decide to come over to the UK?
YC: I figured that I’d learnt a lot being an artist in HK, but at the same time HK showbiz was dying down and I’d always thought that the UK is a better place for creative people, so I decided to move to UK.
MP: What was the first thing you worked on over here?
YC: I was cast in a Phones 4 U TV ad as a model, and around the same time got cast as an actress in an Irish TV series, “The English Class”.
MP: What are you currently working on?
YC: I’ve just finished filming a TV series “Strike Back” in Budapest, I’m currently filming a sitcom pilot in London, and filming a couple of commercials.
MP: How many UK films have you appeared in?
YC: 5 UK films. They included “Skyfall”, “Panic”, “The Smoke”, “Shanghai” and “Babes with Blades, the Flower of Sarnia”
MP: You are probably best known in the UK for your small role in the James Bond movie Skyfall. You must have been really happy to get that part. Does filming in a big movie like that differ from working on a smaller budget film?
YC: Obviously I got to worked with big stars and a famous director on a big budget movie, which enabled me to learn a lot from them. However, I also love working on small budget movies and productions as well, because you simply can’t put a price on being around and working with creative people. I still learn everyday from everyone that i work with.
MP: Has working on Skyfall help open any doors for you?
YC: After being on Skyfall, I have been picked to work on some productions that didn’t require me to audition, which is nice. And now I’m getting auditions for bigger productions which are based in US.
MP: What do you think to the UK film industry?
YC: I think the government needs to put more money in the UK film industry to encourage and support more film makers so we can have a higher output like the US.
MP: You have just been filming in hit US show “Strike Back” Is there much difference between that and filming for a UK show?
YC: The only difference is that it was the first time I got filmed by two Arri Alexa cameras at the same time. Fun!
MP: I first saw you working as a presenter on the now defunct TV channel Sumo. You were presenting a funny clips show and being very silly. I have also seen clips of you doing more ‘corporate’ presenting. The difference in you was amazing – is presenting just like a different form of acting?
YC: Yes, I love presenting! To me, it is a little different than other acting as you are constantly talking to the camera, you need to think the camera is your friend, and talk to the camera like you are talking to your friend.
MP: Would you like to do more presenting?
YC: I’ve done a lot of presenting over the years, from presenting for Circle K music channel in HK, then Sumo TV on Sky TV and many corporate jobs for UK productions. I love the challenge of remembering lots of words! Some presenting work, for example to showcase new property developments, need me to present in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. It’s challenging, but I enjoy the challenge. So, yes! I will continue working as a presenter as well as an actress.
MP: Your face has popped up in a few ads. Are they fun to work on? Have you ever had to do anything odd for the sake of advertising? Dress up as a chicken or something!
YC: Yes, I was once an ice cream for Nokia ad.
MP: You have appeared on a few pop videos too. Are they as glamorous as we would like to think they are? Any stories you can share with us?
YC: NO, not at all. Music videos take the longest time to film, standard filming time has gone from 9 hours to 14 hours. When I was filming the mv for “Wildfire” by Sbtrck, I had to act and dance on the bed while water get poured on me, wind machine blowing fiercely and smoke machine blasting full on in the room for 14 hours straight while I already had the flu! I still enjoyed working on it very much, but definitely not as glamourous as others think. Filming can be extremely hard work mentally and physically.
MP: You have a writing partner for music. Is that something you would like to see take off in a big way? Especially after your success elsewhere with MP4 etc or is it just a hobby.
YC: I have 2 writing partners. Brad, Howard and I have worked together for over 6 years, writing library music for companies including EMI.
Since acting work is taking up most of my time, my music output is getting less but music is never a hobby for me, it’s in my blood and I will continue doing it. The best aspect is I get to work with two of my good friends in the studio, and also some amazing talented famous producers over the years.
MP: What do you prefer working on? TV, film, music?
YC: I love all of them! I love singing, expressing myself in a song and the challenge of writing. I love acting on TV and films as I love the challenge of breaking down a script, a character and bring a different persona to the screen.
MP: What would be your ideal role?
YC: I recently did my first evil role in a Chinese film pilot, playing a manipulative evil bitch. I loved it so I want to play more baddie roles as I played a good girl for too long.
MP: You are currently working hard on a degree on psychology. Does this mean you will leave the film industry behind?
YC: I don’t know. I think I will always be creative since it is in my genes, as both of my parents were Beijing opera performers. However, since I started working in showbiz when I was a teen, I feel a need to learn more new things apart from arts. I’m fascinated by human behaviour and the criminal mind. I want to finish my psychology degree and continue study to become a forensic psychologist so I can do research and in the future improve the prison system. At the end of the day, I don’t see why I can’t do both acting and being a psychologist. To me, life has no rules, I’m just gonna flow with it and do what interests me, live life to the full or maybe I’m just too overactive.