Yuan is as caring in real life

SINGAPORE - Fans of MediaCorp actor Yuan Shuai might want to catch the new Channel 8 drama The Caregivers because he might not be in showbusinesss for much longer.

He has been in showbusiness for six years but the 31-year-old plans on taking over his father's factory in China, which makes security seals for bottles.

His father, who is in his 50s and has leukaemia, is recuperating from a bone marrow transplant he had last year.

The only son, whose mother is a school principal, said: "I've been thinking about it. I have to take over the business one day. Even though it's not my interest, I can't let my family's business go to waste. It's my responsibility as a son.

"But I still want to do what I love, so I probably have to set aside time for acting."

He was speaking at a press conference for The Caregivers, where he has a small role playing a dedicated boyfriend of a girl in a coma.

The drama revolves around a male home care nurse, played by veteran actor Thomas Ong, and premieres on Channel 8 on Wednesday.

The China-born bachelor had not planned on venturing into showbusiness when his parents sent him to Singapore to further his studies 14 years ago.

Taking part in MediaCorp's talent search programme U Are The One in 2008 changed everything.

He said: "I came to Singapore alone as my parents wanted me to do my tertiary studies here. My friends asked me along for the auditions of a talent show. In the end, they got eliminated and I ended up winning the contest."

After that, he signed with MediaCorp and has since starred in dramas such as Together (2009), Poetic Justice (2012) and Marry Me (2013).

Yuan, who is from Jilin province, also put his fluent Mandarin to good use by hosting variety shows.

He was a roving reporter on singing contest Campus Superstar in 2009 and hosted an environmental show, Go Green (2008).

The boyish actor recently scored his first movie role. He plays an eager rookie cop, a supporting male lead, in the local crime thriller Re:solve (2013).

It looks like he has high hopes for whatever time he has left in showbusiness.

He said: "I believe all Chinese actors wish to venture into China, but it's difficult. The Chinese film industry will become like Hollywood in future.

"I hope actors Christopher Lee and Qi Yuwu will make it big in China and help pave the way for us."


1 Was it challenging taking on a movie role for the first time?

I didn't feel that there was any difficulties. I had accumulated enough acting experience and it was time.

What made it tough was having to control my feelings as I was upset over my dad's recent operation and a close uncle's passing.


2 You're the only child and your father has a factory. Didn't your parents oppose your going into showbusiness?

My mother was supportive of me as long as I worked hard. However, my dad was initially against me pursuing a career in showbusines. He was hoping I would help out in his business.

When I chose to take theatre studies at an arts school, he had doubts about me learning things such as acting and film-making. He felt that a showbusiness career was not stable.

Winning the MediaCorp talent search programme was a way to prove to him I was serious about giving showbusiness a go.


3 You emerged from an idol talent search contest U Are The One. Did you have any qualms about maintaining an idol image?

Initially, I did. As a rookie actor, I would think which is my best angle when I go on camera. Slowly, I realised I had to let it go and just throw myself into the character, such as when I had to cry and make a scene.

4 Does taking on dark roles with emotional baggage affect you on a personal level?

Every time I take on such a role, it takes me a month or two to get out of it.

My character in Poetic Justice (2012) had a fear of crowds, and I found I started to have the same fear. When I went to a Christmas party, I started sweating, got angsty and decided to leave.

When I take on a role, I become that character.


5 You're a versatile artist. You've done hosting and acting. However, you have not won an award. How do you feel?

I feel that I deserve an award, but I guess it's not time yet.

I liked some of my past roles and think I deserved a nomination for them. Though they were supporting roles, they were challenging ones with emotional turmoil. For instance, in the drama Rescue 995 (2012), I played a bad son who beat up his dad and cheated his grandma of her money. Later, my character even threatened to jump off a building to commit suicide.


6 Between an acting award and a popularity award, which trophy do you want to bring home?

An acting award, be it for best actor or best supporting actor. As an actor, I want to get recognition for the hard work.

I feel that popularity is determined by the roles you play. Some characters I play are not too popular with the audiences and I often get scolded in public.


7 Have you set yourself a deadline for settling down and having kids?

I haven't but my parents have issued a "warrant" to order me to get married. They have tried to matchmake me.


8 How would you like to be remembered?

I want the audiences to remember me as a sensitive actor.

For instance, Korean actor Kwan Sang Woo is great at crying. The more tragic the role, the better.



The Caregivers premieres on Channel 8 on Wednesday at 9pm and airs on weekdays at the same time.


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