Actress Chris Tong: I was in six rape scenes

For four months last year, she cried every day from morning to night.

The violent abuse she suffered knew no boundaries as she was slapped, kicked, beaten and raped - on screen, that is.

At times, she wanted to throw in the towel as she could not take crying in almost every scene of the TV show she was filming.

But her valiant effort and her never-say-die attitude have paid off.

After five years of staying on the sidelines, it's finally Chris Tong's turn to shine.

The soft-spoken Malaysian actress and MediaCorp part-timer recently received her first nomination for the Star Awards, and it's a meaty one.

Tong, 30, is up for Best Actress for her lead role in the Channel 8 year-end blockbuster period drama The Journey: A Voyage.

In the series, her long-suffering, docile housewife character Bai Mingzhu is repeatedly abused by her businessman husband (Terence Cao) because he thinks she has the hots for another man (Li Nanxing).

Tong told The New Paper over the phone from her home in Kuala Lumpur, where she is based: "It was physically and mentally exhausting to be slapped around every day.

"I was 'raped' six times. So I had to keep sobbing and I was worried that the audience would hate my character for being irritating as she was crying all the time.

"Sometimes, I would ask the director if I may not cry in a particular scene, but he said it was essential to the script.

"I was surprised in the end when people sent me messages and told me that they liked my role."

She joked that Cao's character was the most evil man she has ever known, but added that the local actor was patient with her awkwardness during the rape scenes.

She said: "I felt so embarrassed because I've never worked with Terence before. Imagine when I found out that in one of our first scenes together, he had to 'rape' me violently.

"Thank goodness he was understanding and respectful and guided me through the scene so that it would be the least uncomfortable for me." She said he was experienced as he had done similar scenes beforee.

The Journey: A Voyage, a trilogy series which also stars Joanne Peh, Elvin Ng, Priscelia Chan and Pierre Png, is about first-generation Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore to carve out new lives for themselves.

Filmed in Singapore, China and Malaysia, the first instalment was telecast here in November.

NO PRESSURE

The next two seasons of the drama will be shown this year and next year. Tong will reprise her role for the second season. The conclusion of the series is meant to tie in with Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations next year.

Tong said that she is under no pressure to win Best Actress because she is the underdog.

The other nominees are Caldecott Hill's popular stars like Chen Liping (The Dream Makers), Jeanette Aw (The Dream Makers), Rebecca Lim (Sudden) and Rui En (The Dream Makers).

She has starred in Channel 8 dramas like The Family Court, C.L.I.F and Code of Honour as well as Malaysian movies The Wedding Diary and Petaling Street Warriors.

She said: "I couldn't believe it when I was told that I was nominated, I was just so happy. When I first started out in showbiz, it was just a hobby. Now I'm addicted to acting.

"My crying in the show was all worth it. I love my job."


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