Celeb couple's son makes acting debut

His actor-parents Xiang Yun and Edmund Chen are the first-generation Ah Jie and Ah Ge of local showbiz.

Now, he's making his TV debut.

Chen Yixi, 20, who finished his national service last month, has taken up a lead role in entertainment website Xinmsn's upcoming Mandarin web drama i.Rock.

Despite the pedigree, he told The New Paper: "I've never thought acting's in my blood. That's why I'm so stiff and don't know how to say my lines.

"I try to enjoy myself but I also push myself to not underperform. I don't want to waste anyone's time.

"I'm stressed and I lose sleep every night worrying about memorising my lines and my Chinese pronunciation."

But everyone in the production has been pleasant and patient with him, said Chen, who has a younger sister Yixin, 12.

Chen's parents' acting careers began in the 80s and their joint popularity has remained high over the years. Between the two of them, they've done almost 120 dramas and movies.

Rock band member

In the 15-episode i.Rock, Chen plays nerd Jiale, who joins a rock band fronted by Dexter (local singer Derrick Hoh) with his childhood friend Xiaoxin (female champion of reality TV singing series Campus SuperStar 2007 Keely Wee).

After encountering a series of obstacles, Jiale has to re-examine his love for music.

The drama also stars Cavin Soh, Chua Lilian, Darren Lim and Evelyn Tan.

Xinmsn will release five 5-minute episodes of the web drama on its website every Monday from April 9.

It will also be shown on Channel U on Mondays from April 16 at 9.30pm for half an hour.

Chen said that while he likes Chinese culture, he speaks mostly English at home.

And people often laugh at his "funny and unnatural" way of speaking Mandarin, he revealed.

Said Chen with a smile: "I stuttered in my O-level Mandarin oral exam and an examiner recognised me.

"He said, 'Aren't you Xiang Yun and Edmund Chen's son? Why is your Mandarin like that?'

"My parents hope I'll speak more Mandarin after this drama."

Chen said he isn't thinking of making acting his career; school remains his priority.

He took on the acting job for the experience and to kill time before enrolling in the Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media in August.

His dad had received a call from the drama's production crew, asking if he would be interested to act.

Knowing Chen' interest in film-making, his dad suggested he take up the role to learn what goes on behind the scenes.

Chen said laughingly that he doesn't even know how much he'll be paid for i.Rock as he simply passed the contract to his parents.

He added: "I see my parents act and I know it's tough work. They come home late and work irregular hours.

"I don't know if I want to be an actor. I'll give it a try and see how it goes."

Returning to MediaCorp has been "quite nostalgic" for Chen.

He remembers that as a child, he ran around MediaCorp's Studio 6 while his parents acted.

"I feel a bit embarrassed when I meet (long-time MediaCorp staff who remember me)," he said.

"My mum said (local veteran actor Chen Shucheng) was one of the first few people who carried me when I was born.

"They've seen me grow up but I don't know what to talk to them about... I don't know how to repay their niceness."

This article was first published in The New Paper.