KATE PANG AND ANDIE CHEN
YouTube Channel: Kandie Network
Celebrity couple Kate Pang and Andie Chen attract attention wherever they go, but they insist their 1½-year-old son Aden has eclipsed them in popularity.
"I think he has more fans than us now," actor Chen, 30, joked to The New Paper at the press conference for their newly-revamped parenting site Kandie Network last week.
"When we take selfies of him at home and show him the pictures, he will kiss the phone screen," actress-host Pang, 32, said with a laugh. "He's very happy seeing himself in videos."
Indeed, Aden lapped up the media attention at the event, grasping the microphone to babble into it and parading around the room to have his photo taken.
No wonder he has a plum role in Kandie Network, which began as a YouTube channel in 2014 but has been relaunched as a comprehensive parenting website.
Billed as "the ultimate parenting video site", Kandie Network dishes out articles and videos on parenting topics such as pregnancy, health and nutrition, and how to raise kids.
A recent video showed how to handle children with a fever, with expert advice from a doctor.
New videos are uploaded every Monday.
Kandie Network first shot to popularity when the couple uploaded videos of Pang's home birth in her native Taiwan a year ago. While these early clips were more raw and homemade, the new content has a more professional quality, thanks to help from a production company.
They call Kandie Network a "big investment", as they have pumped in a five-figure sum and each episode costs a four-figure sum to produce.
They also have a massive crew of 80, which includes members of their production company and web design company.
Pang and Chen also believe it is natural for parents to incorporate their children into their work.
TIME WITH KIDS
"Like a lot of mothers, I considered switching jobs after having a kid," said Pang, who is pregnant with their second child, a girl. "I want to spend more time with my children, and at the same time, help other parents.
Chen agreed, adding: "As a dad, I want to spend more time with my family, but sometimes life in Singapore doesn't allow that. The ability to work and be with my family at the same time is a joy."
He added that while he is meeting potential sponsors, he prefers to work on Kandie's content and grow the site first.
"We don't want too many ads in our videos either, because we understand that the audience could react negatively to that," said Pang, who handles the research and scripts for each episodes.
Chen says they are "not really financial people", and would rather grow their site first and worry about the profits afterwards. He balances his day job with editing videos at night.
Pang still plans to act but will take on fewer projects while she is pregnant.
Unlike other celeb parents who prefer to keep their kids out of the spotlight, the couple are not worried about Aden's privacy.
"Luckily, Singapore is a safe place for children," Chen said.
"If someday Aden communicates that he doesn't want to do (videos) any more, we will respect that."
She makes Chinese videos with younger daughter
YouTube Channel: Crazy About Chinese
It's easy to see why Diana Ser co-hosts her videos with her youngest daughter Jaymee, who turns five this year.
The little girl has her shy moments but in front of the camera, she lights up, flashing a megawatt grin and talking confidently.
"Jaymee has always been the most bubbly and fearless of my three kids," Ser, 43, told The New Paper.
"Even as a baby, when I took her to the market, she was willing to be carried by the strange uncle from the fruit stall. So I would get a free tray of strawberries," she said with a laugh.
Married to former actor James Lye, the bilingual host-presenter has two older children, Jake, nine, and Christy, seven, who are not as confident about speaking in Mandarin.
This inspired Ser to launch her online portal, Crazy About Chinese, last November.
"Academically, my kids do well. For a lot of people, maybe that's enough. But I want my children to be bicultural and bilingual, and James feels very strongly about this as well.
"I know I still have a chance for Jaymee to feel a lot more comfortable with Chinese. I also want to help other parents who are struggling to teach their kids Chinese and provide a good resource for them."
Growing up as a heartlander, Ser picked up Mandarin easily as her parents did not speak English.
Her website features articles on teaching kids Chinese. She also uploads videos every one to two weeks about introducing children to the language through daily activities, mostly starring Jaymee.
Ser has a two-man crew to help with filming and editing, and manages the website herself, as well as the scripting, directing and logistics for her YouTube videos.
Response to her site has been encouraging, as she has received good feedback from parents.
So far, Ser has invested over $10,000 in the site out of her own pocket. She also has a sponsor, Times Bookstores, coming on board.
"It would be great to break even, as I can't be putting in my own money forever... My pockets aren't that deep," she said.
Ser also hopes to organise workshops in the future for parents to exchange ideas on getting their little ones to learn Chinese.
A self-confessed "dinosaur" when it comes to the Internet, Ser is fascinated that technology has enabled her to create her own broadcasts.
"Today's technology has given me a relatively cheap platform to share my story. I've also had some years of experience, so I can write, direct, produce and package my own content.
"Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, 'Why I am doing this when I have three children to look after?' It's not like I don't have enough things to do.
"But after receiving encouragement from other parents, I know I'm making a difference."
From blogging to YouTube videos
YouTube Channel: May Phua
For almost 20 years, she played numerous roles on TV, but actress-host May Phua is happy to give audiences a peek into her real life.
"I had been blogging for a while, but I found it quite one-sided. People now have no time to read, but when you upload a video of yourself, you feel very real to them," the 40-year-old mum of two said.
"There were times when some people mistook me as a bad person, because I had played some bad characters. But through my website and videos, I can share who I am and people can respond to me."
While she is now primarily focused on raising her family, Phua still takes on occasional acting and hosting gigs, and will appear in upcoming drama The Revenge Queen alongside fellow actress Jesseca Liu.
Phua's website, which she has been running for two years, focuses on her three interests - family, fashion and beauty, and travel.
She started uploading YouTube videos last year, some of which feature her two sons Ix Shang, 11, and Keyan, seven.
Phua's husband, who works in sales, is mostly absent from her videos.
"I can't afford to pay him," Phua joked. "He will only appear as a daddy (on camera) if he has no choice."
A recent series of episodes, uploaded earlier this month, showed Phua and her sons on a family holiday in Bali. Phua shared tips on how to involve children in learning about their vacation destinations, as well as practical advice on how to get taxis in Bali.
"I had already done the research for the trip, so I wanted to share them with other parents."
Phua also plans to upload another video on her family's visit to the Kupu-Kupu Foundation, which helps children with disabilities in Bali.
"It was a very educational visit for the boys and for me as well," she said. "I learned it's good to expose children to underprivileged kids at a young age."
Phua said that over time, her boys have become comfortable on camera.
"In earlier videos, they were shy, but they have now learned to express themselves better. In fact, they have become quite opinionated and will give me more ideas on what they think the videos should be like, which is more of a challenge," she added.
The former MediaCorp artist manages her website and YouTube channel with the help of her own media company Celevi. Each episode is typically shot with a four- person crew.
Phua declined to reveal how much she has invested in her website and videos, but said with a laugh that it was "a lot".
Having sponsors would be a bonus, she said, but she does not intend to turn her site into a business and will concentrate on producing meaningful content for now.
Phua is delighted that other local celebs have been setting up their own family-focused websites.
"We're media industry people, so it's in our blood. We should get together and do a collaboration... that would be fun," she said.
This article was first published on January 18, 2016.
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