It's all hunky-dory

It's all hunky-dory
(From top left): Ian Fang, Jeffrey Xu, Edwin Goh. (From btm left): Shane Pow, Xu Bin, Aloysius Pang

SINGAPORE - Watch out, Elvin Ng. A new generation of TV hunks has exploded in popularity in the past two years, amassing thousands of fans on social media.

Among these single and eligible actors are classic bad boy Ian Fang, 24, and sunshine bloke Xu Bin, 25 - all with the X-factor that gets fans screaming their lungs out for them at public events.

Performance-wise, they are also getting noticed. Jeffrey Xu, 25, for example, edged out veterans the likes of Pierre Png and Rayson Tan, as well as Hong Kong TVB's Kenny Wong, to win the Best Supporting Actor Award at the Asian TV Awards in December last year for his role as a male nurse in romance drama Marry Me (2012).

SundayLife! talks to six of the hottest young male stars gracing the gogglebox at the moment and dissects their appeal. Hunk-er down, folks.

XU BIN, 25 The Sunshine Boy

Appeal: One wide smile from this guy, and girls get all googly-eyed. Tanned, friendly and chatty, Xu radiates warmth and laidback charm.

Breakout role: Playing a bad boy-turned-good in school drama Don't Stop Believin' (2012)

Of all the up-and-coming hunks SundayLife! talks to for this feature, this Fuzhou native is easily the friendliest and most approachable. Not caring for formalities, he politely asks if he can eat during the interview. Once he gets the go-ahead, he cheerily gulps down his salad and coffee in between chatter. "I think I'm an easy-going guy. And I love talking to people and meeting new people," he says with a grin, when asked how he stands out from among his fellow young actors.

Whatever the reason, he has already amassed close to 70,000 followers on Instagram and 24,800 followers on Twitter (both account handles are @Xubin_) in a span of two years.

"I'm a bit surprised, too, by how fast the number of fans has grown. I used to be able to reply to most of their comments. Now, there are so many that there is no way I can personally reply to them all. But if I just reply to some, the others will get jealous and 'fight' it out online."

Some fans have physically followed him home, the bachelor adds. "They came into my condominium building and hung around for hours before finally leaving. I never thought anything like this would happen to me," says Xu. His father, a contractor, his mother, a housewife, and his sister, aged 15, live in China.

He shot to leading-man status on television very quickly, snagging the main role of a hair salon manager in Gonna Make It (2013) only a year after his supporting role in Don't Stop Believin'. That bad boy-turned-good role snagged him the Favourite Male Character award at the Star Awards last year.

He is a nominee in the category for the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste award at the Star Awards next month.

He is now filming police drama Against The Tide, alongside fellow young hunks Aloysius Pang and Shane Pow, as well as veteran actors Christopher Lee, Rui En and Zheng Geping.

Says the Temasek Polytechnic graduate in logistics: "I didn't really have any direction in life when I was younger and was just a very playful person. Now that I've gotten into acting, I love it and I really hope to do well in this line."

IAN FANG, 24 The Bad Boy

Appeal: Super self-confident and ever the smooth-talker, he reminds you of a younger, local version of Hong Kong's Edison Chen. Fortunately, Fang has not stirred up any scandals like Chen.

Breakout role: Playing the rebellious younger brother of Fann Wong's character in Channel 8 drama On The Fringe (2011)

After shooting to fame with the massively popular drama On The Fringe, this self-assured star seems unstoppable.

With more than 84,100 followers on Instagram and 40,500 on Twitter (both account handles are @ian_ianization), he has since taken on prominent roles in the movie Imperfect (2012), as well as in Channel 8's top-rated 2012 drama Don't Stop Believin' (2012).

He also hosted the travelogue series My Working Holiday (2013), travelling to countries such as Sri Lanka and Japan to experience local jobs including beekeeping and paper-making.

Most recently, he was featured as one of three male leads in Channel U drama Served H.O.T., playing an ex-convict.

At last year's Star Awards, he beat Elizabeth Lee, Jayley Woo, Shane Pow and Edwin Goh to win the award for Best Newcomer, which recognises the most promising young talent. He is a nominee in the category for the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste award at the Star Awards next month.

Compared with some of the other actors featured in this article, Fang has been working the scene slightly longer - he entered show business in 2011 at age 22 - a fact he is proud of.

"I'm like a senior now," the only child of divorced parents tells SundayLife! in a refreshingly straightforward manner.

"There may be more young actors in the industry now, but I don't feel threatened. There is only one Ian Fang."

Easily the most confident of the lot, this Shanghai-born actor loves to talk big, knowing fully well that it works to his advantage.

"Ian Fang is famous for his self-confidence and his cockiness, right? So I might as well use that to market myself," he says with a laugh.

Dubbed by his fans as "Fang Shao", which means Master Fang in Mandarin, he says his innate fashion sense also makes him stand out from the others.

"I've always been interested in fashion, especially streetwear. Back in secondary school, I was already folding up my pants, way before the current trend," says the alumnus of Bendemeer Secondary School and Republic Polytechnic.

"People used to say that I'm being very 'kua zhang' (exaggerated in Mandarin), but because I'm a public figure now, I can be even more daring with my fashion choices and wear whatever s*** I want to wear.

"A lot of youngsters copy my style and I want to be a fashion role model to them."

But his ultimate goal is for people to recognise him for his performance more than for his self-professed "good looks".

He says breezily, only half in jest: "I think I'm quite talented and I have high self-esteem, but I also need encouragement that I'm good at what I do. When people tell me they watch my shows and say I was not bad in them, I feel very warm."

The bachelor hopes to find a girlfriend soon: "I seem to have a very strong personality, but a lot of it is just a mask I put on. Deep down in my heart, I'm pretty lonely."

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