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Zheng Wanling dropped out of school at 15 and pursued acting

While many might baulk at the idea of dropping out of school at 15, veteran actress Zheng Wanling did exactly that and went into acting.

In a recent interview with AsiaOne for her new Mediacorp Chinese drama Home Again, the 56-year-old said she joined Singapore Broadcasting Company (what Mediacorp was called previously) at 15.

She left school because she wanted to get a job, but also because there were "only two books that were interesting" to her — Reader's Digest and National Geographic.

As for other subjects like art, home economics and Mathematics, she wasn't especially keen on those.

In Home Again, Wanling plays Sun Lianna, wife to Yap Foo Kooi (Richard Low) and mother to three children — Ping'an (Ya Hui), Jiankang (Desmond Tan) and Kangle (Edwin Goh).

Tragedy struck the family when Jiankang was abducted as a child and he was reunited with the family after 25 years.

Wanling may play the role of a local housewife in the drama series but in real life, she hasn't exactly led the life of a typical housewife.

Just before she hit the peak of her popularity, she married a Panamanian diplomat and retired from showbiz in the late 90s when she left Singapore. She spent about a decade in Panama and then another decade in South Africa before moving back to Singapore in 2018 with her daughter.

ALSO READ: 'I fainted after using the washroom': Zheng Wanling menstruated for 3 weeks because of menopause

Life as a diplomat's wife wasn't easy, she said.

"I had a rundown to follow every week, every month... these are things that as a spouse of the head of mission you have to be able to handle. You got to know how to train your helpers, people who work for you, your chauffeur [and] your housekeeper."

She said she felt "blessed" that other diplomats' wives who had learnt the ropes were willing to teach her.

Wanling explained: "[What] I understood from certain countries is that before you become a head of missions' wife, you're put into training for two weeks. But that time I was in a hurry... and there were no classes for me so I had to learn bit by bit."

Daughter didn't know she's famous

Since Wanling raised her daughter overseas, it's no surprise that the latter didn't know her mother is a celebrity. While they returned to Singapore for annual visits, her daughter, who was a toddler then, had no idea.


However, when she was around nine years old, she questioned Wanling on why everyone seemed to know her. The actress tried to deflect by saying they were her neighbours and friends.

Her daughter didn't buy the explanation, said Wanling, who eventually told her the truth.

She told her daughter: "I used to work in the TV station. I used to act as an artiste. And that's how people recognise me."

Watch our latest episode of E-Junkies for more.

Home Again is now airing on Channel 8 and meWATCH.

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