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Ex-Miss Universe Singapore Cheryl Chou's journey to onscreen fighting includes learning from Ip Man action choreographer

Ex-Miss Universe Singapore Cheryl Chou's journey to onscreen fighting includes learning from Ip Man action choreographer
Cheryl Chou at Shero's press conference at Sofitel Sentosa.
PHOTO: Mediacorp

It may be her first time doing onscreen fighting but Cheryl Chou's battle started five years ago.

Recently, AsiaOne spoke to the Miss Universe Singapore 2016 pageant winner, who is now starring in her first onscreen fighting role in action-thriller drama Shero as a female bodyguard.

For this show, actresses playing bodyguards, including Joanne Peh, Carrie Wong, Grace Teo and Tay Ying, attended specialised training with Aetos, a company that offers security and personal protection services.

They picked up technical skills like using certain tools to detect spycams, and the real-life procedures of escorting important persons.

However, Cheryl's personal preparation started years ago.

The 27-year-old told AsiaOne in a recent interview: "I started with Thai boxing four to five years ago. As I wanted to learn more about the technicalities of onscreen fighting, I also trained with Ronin Action Group, the stunt team run by Sunny Pang.

"I also went to Hong Kong for cinematic training with Chris Collins, who did martial arts choreography for the Ip Man movie series."

Sunny, 50, best remembered by Singapore viewers for his role as Inspector Han in Code of Law, runs a stunt team which choreographed action scenes in drama series The Driver and Circle Line and movie Geylang, the last of which received a Best Action Choreography nomination at the 59th Golden Horse Awards last November.


Given Cheryl's aspirations, Shero is unlikely to be her last action show.

"I want to venture into more action-based shows. I would like to try a multitude of things and try different types of roles. I will not say no till I have tried it. I am okay with playing a bodyguard again too," she elaborated.

In action-thriller drama Shero, Zhang Yinchen (Joanne) takes over her sister Yinxi's (Carrie) bodyguard company after the latter vanishes. To find Yinxi, Yinchen collaborates with Yue Ruixiang (Romeo Tan), the CEO of a ship-building company who was working on a project with Yinxi before her disappearance.

Cheryl plays Zhou Jingyu, one of the bodyguards in Yinxi's company, alongside Grace who plays Zhao Zihan and Tay Ying who plays Lin Xinya.

Sharing more about her role, Cheryl said: "Based on her demeanour, she doesn't look like a bodyguard. Her personality is more girly and adorable, and she is very different at work versus when she is off work.

"She is young and wanted to try out many kinds of jobs, and happened to stumble upon the job of a bodyguard."

Coincidentally, Cheryl also stumbled into acting.

After winning Miss Universe Singapore 2016, Cheryl halted her studies at Lasalle College of the Arts and immediately delved into acting, taking up mostly minor roles in local English and Chinese dramas.

"It was my first foray into entertainment, so there was a lot of experimentation. I tried a multitude of things," she said.

Cheryl officially joined Mediacorp as an actress when she signed a contract with The Celebrity Agency in April this year 2023.

Despite a slow start, her role models keep her going. They include Malaysia-born actress Michelle Yeo, who won Best Actress in the 95th Academy Awards for her role in Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Taiwanese actress Hsieh Ying-xuan, who won Best Leading Actress at the 57th Golden Bell Awards for her role in Heaven on the 4th Floor.

Cheryl added: "I admire Michelle as she is a very strong woman. In Ying-xuan's latest performance in Netflix drama series Wave Makers, I find that she has a lot of assertiveness, stability and force in her acting. She fights for what she wants and is always confident in her decisions."

Cheryl continues to experiment with new experiences and has been dabbling in photography for two years although it has brought her some frustration.

"I recently received a reusable film camera as a birthday present… I mostly took photos of friends, family and scenery. For me, it's a visual documentation of my memories.

"My last film roll was disappointing because the images were blurred… It's very upsetting to get images where I can't see anything. It's a hit-or-miss but it's a fun learning experience."

Shero is showing on Channel 8 on weekdays and streaming on meWATCH.

ALSO READ: 'We wanted to try everything, so we did': Carrie Wong and Tay Ying get hangover while filming new drama in Canberra

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