Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who Will Succeed Charmaine Sheh as TVB Fa Dan?

TVB's reigning Fa Dan - Charmaine Sheh

Hong Kong television actress Charmaine Sheh (佘诗曼, pinyin: Shé Shīmàn) has for the past decade being the number one star at TVB, Hong Kong's premier TV network. She has earned the title Fa Dan (best translated as "diva" and given to actresses whose popularity guarantees them the best roles), and is a six-time winner at the TVB Awards in the Favourite TV Character category. A former runner-up in the Miss Hong Kong Pageant, the 35 year old has appeared in some of TVB's most popularly-acclaimed series, including War and Beauty (2004), Maiden's Vow (2006), Beyond the Realm of Conscience (2009) and last year's Can't Buy Me Love. However last month Sheh announced that she would not be renewing her TVB contract in April, with rumours that she would take up acting opportunities in mainland China.

Sheh's departure has now fuelled speculation on who will replace her as TVB's number one star. One article, in Hong Kong's The Sun newspaper and translated in this Asian Fanatics Forum post, has nominated five possible successors to her Fa Dan title: Fala Chen, Kate Tsui, Tavia Yeung, Linda Chung and Myolie Wu.

29 year old Fala Chen (陈法拉, pinyin: Chén Fǎlā) was born in Chengdu before moving to the United States when she was 15 years old. After winning several titles in the US beauty pageant circuit she took part in the Miss China International pageant in 2005 in Hong Kong where she was a runner-up. Despite missing out on the crown, it led to a contract with TVB and she made her acting debut in the 2006 series Forensic Heroes. She appeared in TVB's biggest series of 2007, Heart of Greed, and in the same year won Best Supporting Actress at the TVB Awards for her performance in Steps. In 2008 she appeared in another major TVB hit, Moonlight Resonance, and also 2010's Best Drama Series, Can't Buy Me Love, for which she was nominated in My Favourite Female Character category. She also won her second Best Supporting Actress award in 2010, for No Regrets which was Hong Kong's highest rating series last year.

Kate Tsui (徐子珊, pinyin: Xú Zǐshān) is another beauty pageant graduate, winning the 2004 Miss Hong Kong title. She has appeared in hit series La Femme Desperado (2006 and Hong Kong's answer to Desperate Housewives) and Moonlight Resonance (2008), and in 2007 won the TVB Awards Most Improved Actress award for On The First Beat and Steps. The 31 year old however tends to divide audiences with her sexy roles, which more conservative viewers consider a little unsuitable for a true Fa Dan. She has also embarked on a singing career, again with divided opinions about her ability.

Probably the leading candidate for future Fa Dan is Tavia Yeung (杨怡, pinyin: Yáng Yí). The 31 year old actress began her career in 1999 after graduating from a TVB training school. She started off in minor roles before attracting attention for her performance in The Awakening Story in 2001, and Eternal Happiness the year after. In 2003 she won Most Improved Actress at the TVB Awards, and has since appeared in many of TVB's most popular and awarded TV series. In 2008 she was awarded Best Supporting Actress for Moonlight Resonance, then followed it up a year later with Best Performance of the Year for both Sweetness in the Salt and Beyond the Realm of Conscience. She's currently starring in TVB's highest rating series so far of 2011, The Rippling Blossom.

Former winner of the Miss China International Pageant in 2004, Linda Chung (钟嘉欣, pinyin: Zhōng Jiāxīn) is the youngest on the list at 26 years old. Although born and raised in Canada, she moved to Hong Kong to pursue an acting career, and with just her third series role, Always Ready, she was named Most Improved Actress at the 2006 TVB Awards. The following year she was again awarded Most Improved Actress for two shows, The Biter Bitten and Forensic Heroes. She has also been nominated in the Favourite Female Character category in three of the past four years: Heart of Greed (2007), Legend of the Demigods (2008) and Can't Buy Me Love (2010).

Tavia Yeung's main contender for the successor title may be Myolie Wu (胡杏儿, pinyin: Hú Xìng'ér). Born in Hong Kong but educated in Northern Ireland, the 31 year old is yet another actress to break into the Hong Kong TV business via a beauty pageant, finishing runner-up in the Miss Hong Kong content in 1999. Her early career looked promising, winning TVB's Most Improved Actress for Golden Faith, and coming close to winning Best Actress in 2005 for Wars of In-Laws (she lost out to her co-star Linda Wang). The following year she was again in the top five nominees for Best Actress for To Grow With Love, a role for which she reportedly put on 50 pounds. Wu was particularly good in comedies, but her career has fallen away a bit in recent years with few stand-out roles. She is another who also polarises viewers' opinions regarding her acting skills. Her appearance in this year's hit series The Rippling Blossom may see her career on the rise again.

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