Who's Tiffany Chen and why is she so powerful?

Who's Tiffany Chen and why is she so powerful?

BEIJING - One week last month, she hit the headlines for attacking actor Stephen Chow on Weibo. Another week, she was back in the news, taking actress Cecilia Cheung's side after the star's former husband, actor Nicholas Tse, reconciled with his ex-girlfriend, singer Faye Wong.

She is Tiffany Chen, film producer, agent, investor, wife of actor-producer Charles Heung, and a woman not to be messed with.

Chen, 55, is deferentially known as Mrs Heung in Hong Kong entertainment, according to a profile on NetEase website. In 2003, The Hollywood Reporter named her one of the most powerful women in international show business.

In her years in the business, she has helped or cultivated stars such as Andy Lau, Jet Li, Lau Ching Wan, Nick Cheung and the late Anita Mui, says NetEase.


She has been involved in the production of movies such as Chow's comedies, Sixty Million Dollar Man (1995) and Forbidden City Cop (1996), Li's action movies, Black Mask (1996) and Once Upon A Time In China and America (1997), and Johnnie To's crime dramas, Running Out Of Time (1999) and Election (2005).

She is not the first Mrs Heung, says NetEase. Originally from Taiwan, she married her husband in 1980, after his divorce from actress Betty Ting Pei (who is forever known as the woman in whose home martial arts legend Bruce Lee died in 1973). The couple have two sons, one of whom, Jacky Heung, is an actor.

Charles Heung and his brother, Jimmy Heung, are the movie-loving sons of Heung Chin, the Teochew settler who was said to have started Sun Yee On, a powerful triad in Hong Kong. Charles Heung, who has maintained that he is not involved in his father's business, set up Win's Entertainment with his brother.

Chen, who was not content to be a rich man's wife, helped her husband run the company, which became one of the most influential in the industry with huge hits such as Chow Yun Fat's 1989 drama God Of Gamblers and Stephen Chow's 1991 comedy Fight Back To School. (Charles Heung appeared in God Of Gamblers as Chow Yun Fat's protector, Lung Wu.)

She now runs China Star Entertainment with her husband. Besides her role as an administrative producer of movies, she is also an influential agent, says NetEase.

She has worked with stars such as Stephen Chow, Sharla Cheung and Cecilia Cheung, who is one of her favourites.

Soon after Cecilia Cheung rose to fame in Chow's King Of Comedy in 1999, her father, alleged gangster Cheung Yan Yung, was targeted by a triad for acting as guarantor of a gambler's loan. The triad threatened to rape and murder the star, who also fell out with her agent then over her pay and was taken to court.

It was Chen who bailed out the Cheungs, according to Apple Daily. She not only paid off the star's agent, but also repaid the loan to the triad.

Cecilia Cheung signed on with China Star, and Chen became her protector, says NetEase. In 2002, the star hit a low in her love life and her career, when she became a third party in Tse's relationship with Wong and he left her for Wong.

Chen let Cheung star in two movies in 2003, To's Running On Karma and Derek Yee's Lost In Time. The star won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress for Lost In Time.

After she and Tse married in 2006, she terminated her contract with China Star and took the company to court to recover more than HK$10 million (S$1.63 million) in pay. Chen was angry, but less than a month later, she said she had forgiven Cheung, reports NetEase.


Other stars indebted to Chen include Li and Lau. Years ago, a triad was forcing Li to make a movie, and his agent was shot dead, says NetEase. The star went into hiding in Beijing, but Chen got him to make a movie with her.

They have since been close friends, says NetEase. He stays at the Heungs' home when he is in Hong Kong and the two families travel together. The two families were on holiday in the Maldives, for instance, when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004.

In the 1990s, Lau lost tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars investing in films through his company, Teamwork. He was about to go bankrupt when Chen went to his rescue, lending him millions to pay off debts without requiring an IOU, says NetEase.

Years later, she confirmed that she had helped him, but denied that she had lent him as much as HK$40 million. She said: "I think this is trust between people. He trusts me, I trust him, and that's what's special about our friendship."

This article was first published on Oct 21, 2014.
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