SINGAPORE - Shanghai-born Singapore-based actor Ian Fang may be known for his cool, "bad boy" image.
But the 25-year-old shows a different side in a new web reality series, Family Wanders, which follows six local celebrities, including Felicia Chin, Ben Yeo and Lee Teng, taking their loved ones overseas for a holiday.
In the first two episodes, an emotional Fang, the only child of divorced parents, sheds tears as he addresses his childhood issues with his single mother while in Japan.
He posed difficult questions about the split to his teary mother, Ms Fang Pei Pei, 53, who was reluctant to answer them.
Fang's parents divorced when he was four and he was brought up by his grandmother. His father, who left for Japan, keeps in touch with him from time to time.
Fang came to Singapore to study when he was 13 and he lives with his mum, who invested in a pub business in Singapore.
Speaking to The New Paper, Fang said in English: "I don't blame my parents for leaving me alone with my grandmother since I was young. I don't feel that they abandoned me.
"I asked her many questions on the show as they had bugged me for a long time and I thought it would be good to get them off my chest since we were on holiday."
He added: "Even though I didn't have parental love, it made me stronger. It allowed me to grow up faster and become more mature at a younger age."
Fang recalled that in the second episode, he told his mother the story of a Japanese boy who was raised by a single mother, but did not get the chance to watch the sunset with her after she died.
"We were at the Tokyo Tower and both of us started crying after I told her the story. All the people around us, including the crew and tourists, were crying as well," he said.
"It was very emotional. I don't want to have any regrets. I want to watch the sunset with my mum."
Family Wanders, which is exclusively available on Toggle (www.toggle.sg) as an app on iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Smart TVs, will be available from Thursday.
It marks the start of a string of TV shows lined up all the way till November for Fang, who said that last year was "really bad".
He has just wrapped up filming Channel 8 series Tiger Mum alongside Huang Biren, and is busy with Channel 8 period drama The Journey: Our Homeland, the last of the three-parter blockbuster series which depicts Singapore from the early 1920s to its post- independence days.
In March, viewers will get to watch him play a stroke patient in a new drama, Life Is Beautiful, co-starring Rui En and Pierre Png.
In June, he will be filming The Dream Makers 2, a sequel to the popular show, and he will have a few variety shows coming up, too.
Fang, who is one of the 8 Dukes of MediaCorp, said: "This year looks hectic, but it is good."
He also said he was given his Singapore permanent resident status two weeks ago - another testament to a good start for 2015.
He said: "For a newbie who has been in the industry for only 3½ years, I need to have more shows and exposure. It's not good to slack around and not do much."
Fang, who debuted in 2011 with local police drama C.L.I.F, was referring to last year, when he was missing in action on the small screens for more than six months.
The usually self-confident talker showed a more vulnerable side of himself, when he said matter-of-factly: "Last year was really not smooth for me at all.
"I was supposed to act in drama Against The Tide, but I passed it up as I wanted to go for a holiday in Taiwan. Because of the vacation, I was jobless all the way till July.
"In the end, I didn't even enjoy my holiday there alone and I cut it short from seven days to four days."
Fang also did not experience a breakthrough in his fashion venture last year.
In 2013, the boyish idol got fans excited when he launched his self-designed First Attempt T-shirts, selling out all 100 pieces.
Even though everyone expected him to launch his second collection a year later, Fang did not meet expectations.
"People around me were asking about the second collection and they thought I would launch it during my birthday in December last year. But I couldn't, due to the lack of manpower and marketing," he said.
"But I've got that sorted out. This time round, I may produce around 200 pieces."
He said he even passed his T-shirt to K-pop idol Seungri from boy band Big Bang when he met him at a party last year.
"Maybe Seungri will wear it, I don't know. I passed one to Edison Chen, too. I also produced a short rap video to promote my label. Everyone can look forward to the new collection, which will be launched next month."
For this year, Fang wishes for good health for himself and his mother.
"I also wish to get more endorsements and engagements, so that I can earn more money to support my family. I want to gain more recognition from people."
Fang, who missed out on the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes during the Star Awards last year, said: "I don't want to say that my aim is to get it this year. But of course, I wish to win that award. I hope my shows speak for themselves this year."
This article was first published on January 26, 2015.
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