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'Brings back lots of memories': Chen Liping stars in The Little Nyonya spinoff Emerald Hill, recounts own childhood there

'Brings back lots of memories': Chen Liping stars in The Little Nyonya spinoff Emerald Hill, recounts own childhood there
Chen Liping, who stars in the upcoming drama Emerald Hill, shares her memories of living in the area during her childhood.
PHOTO: Mediacorp

When preparing for her role in the upcoming local drama Emerald Hill — named after the quaint neighbourhood near Somerset MRT station, local veteran actress Chen Liping has a lot of flashbacks of her childhood, because it was a place she frequented as a child.

"My grandmother lived in the area," the 58-year-old actress shared with AsiaOne recently at the imaging session for the drama.

She studied in River Valley Primary School in the 1970s and would walk to Emerald Hill every day after school.

Coincidentally, the drama is also set in the 1960s and 1970s, so she has memories of the place during the period.

"My whole childhood was spent around that area. My classmates and my mother's friends also all lived around there," Liping remembered fondly.

In the drama, which is a spinoff of The Little Nyonya (2008), Liping plays beggar Ah Zhu, who is the adoptive mother of Zhang Xinniang. They roam the streets together, cheating others to survive.

When Xinniang is around 10 years old, Ah Zhu brings her to the wealthy Zhang family living at Emerald Hill, claiming she is Li Shuqin's (Jesseca Liu) long-lost daughter Anya who was kidnapped when she was three.

Over the years, as Xinniang (Tasha Low) grows up, she secretly remains in contact with Ah Zhu, sometimes stealing things for her, unaware that Shuqin knows of her deeds and she is not the real Anya.

Liping shared that some of her fondest memories of Emerald Hill were the food around the area.

She recounted: "The first KFC opened at Specialist Shopping Centre, which is now Orchard Gateway and it was very lively there. There were also a lot of eateries and nightlife there. People would also queue at Goodwood Park Hotel at night to buy dim sum.

"I used to go to the game arcade at Yaohan department store in Plaza Singapura too because it's within walking distance and take walks at Istana Park. My older cousins would also bring me to the coffee houses."


When asked if she felt like it was fate to star in Emerald Hill while having real memories of the actual place, Liping quipped that it was "fated but not fated", because Ah Zhu has no relationship with the Zhang family of Emerald Hill.

"But the drama title brings back lots of memories. I keep thinking of life during that period, because that's really my childhood," she said.

Emerald Hill, which starts filming in May, also stars Zoe Tay, Shaun Chen, Romeo Tan, Dawn Yeoh, Chantalle Ng, Ferlyn Wong and Zhang Yaodong, with Jeanette Aw reprising her role as Yamamoto Yueniang from The Little Nyonya.

It is expected to premiere in the first half of 2025.

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