By Kwok Kar Peng
You might have heard that Jack Neo has cast a new female lead in the upcoming ‘Ah Boys To Men 4’ movie. As an armoured infantry lieutenant in the Singapore Armed Forces, no less.
But don’t write her off as another wispy actress pretending to be tough; Hong Kong-born Apple Chan could easily kick your butt without breaking a nail.
Search for the soft-spoken TVB actress (her Chinese name 陳芷尤 would yield more results) online, and you’ll find videos of the Hong Kong media going on about her looks and her cry-on-cue acting skills.
You might also spot a video clip of a Hong Kong water gameshow on her Instagram page, where she doggedly latches on to an opponent’s legs and throws him off balance into the water, all in a matter of seconds.
There’s an iron determination in the 28-year-old that would make her father, a former competitive Thai-boxing fighter, proud.
“I’m a strong woman with skills”
As a young child, Apple had picked up the basics from her dad, and has been training at her paternal uncle’s boxing studio in Hong Kong since moving to the country six years ago.
“I know I don’t look it, but I’m very active and like a lot of sports. (Thai-boxing) is a very good skill, for girls especially, because you can protect yourself,” the ex-model told Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore in an exclusive interview.
She said she took up some MMA lessons as well for a role in a Chinese online movie, and also went for a class on stunt work.
“I want to learn more martial arts, and try something different, and hopefully venture into action movies. Not a lot of girls do it, so this presents extra opportunities for myself,” Apple said.
“A lot of people judge me on my appearance, and think I’m soft and weak. Martial arts make me feel stronger and more confident, and I can prove to others that I’m not just an average girl who looks sweet and gentle; I’m a strong woman with skills.”
Thankfully, she hasn’t had to kick her way out of a nasty situation with overly amorous men, although she said with a laugh, “I would really want to try and prove to myself to see how strong I really am.”
Viewers can catch scenes of her in action in ‘Ah Boys To Men 4’ (ABTM), which follows the boys in green juggling reservist duties with work and family. The film will be released in November, while the fifth instalment will follow in the Lunar New Year period next year.
“Singapore is more like a home to me”
Earlier in 2017, Apple, a Singapore permanent resident, flew from Hong Kong specially to join in the open casting auditions for the movies. Why would an actress with Hong Kong’s grand TVB want to act in a Singapore movie?
“It’s partly because I’m brought up in Singapore, and have always wanted to come back and do a project here if I had an opportunity,” Apple said.
“Singapore is more like a home to me, and most of my friends are here. I’ve watched the Ah Boys To Men movies, and if I get a chance to get a lead role in a big project, I wouldn’t miss it.”
She moved here with her parents and older brother when she was just four, and grew up in Toa Payoh, attending Guangyang Primary School and First Toa Payoh Secondary School, where she was in the softball team and the NPCC, even receiving the Best Cadet award.
Apple graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts in Design Communication. Six years ago, she entered the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant, and enrolled in the 25th TVB acting class.
She subsequently rose to fame in the 2012 long-running sitcom ‘Come Home Love’, as well as dramas like ‘A Fist Within Four Walls’ (2016) and ‘Tiger Mom Blues’ (2017). While she remains with TVB, Apple recently signed an artiste management contract with JM Artiste Network, a company by Jack Neo’s J Team Productions and MM2 Entertainment, to represent her in Singapore and Malaysia.
A Little Mermaid
Apple comes back to Singapore around four or five times a year. Between filming ABTM and catching up with family and friends, she also has an unusual hobby: mermaid swimming!
“Every girl will have a Disney Princess childhood memory, and Ariel the mermaid is my favourite. I love water, how it brushes against my skin, and the freedom I get in it, so I relate myself to a mermaid. I enjoy wearing the fin so much, because I can swim a lot faster,” she explained.
“A lot of people asked, but I didn’t go on a mermaid course to learn mermaid swimming. I had swimming lessons when I was a child, so I just used what I had learnt with my mermaid fins,” the actress said.
“As long as you know how to swim dolphin-style, you can swim like a mermaid. It can be difficult, because you have to work with your core muscles, and follow a momentum.”
Watch the interview here:
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