Chen Qiao En road to first sister: from leftovers in the fridge to drama sharks fin

JUNE 22, 2008

Translated by

In today’s world where the ratings determine everything, Chen Qiao En who has been in the industry for 8 years use figures to proves that she is the true idol drama queen. Her drama “Fated To Love You” has achieves the best ratings that idol drama has so far — break 10. The last highest rating drama “Prince Turned To Frog” was starred Chen Qiao En. This girl who is both simple and charming not only excel in both acting and hosting, she also wrote a book “See or Not?” Her energy and charm are equally astonishing. How does she reach the top? Let us go and “see”.

No matter how many people denounce Taiwanese idol dramas’ various malpractices and retarded symptoms; they have to admit that in the entire Chinese region, only Taiwan is carrying the heavy responsibilities of producing idol dramas. “First Sister” and “First Brother” of idol dramas naturally becomes the golden prize of actors of every generation. When we switch on the TV, it’s not hard to find that the female leads of Taiwanese idol dramas are always Chen Qiao En, Raine Yang and Ariel Lin. Recently “Fated To Love You” starring Chen Qiao En broke 10 and became the highest rating idol drama in Taiwanese history. She is also the female lead of the previous record holder “Prince Turned To Frog”.

Working with different partners in two different dramas and can still set new records, the title of idol drama first sister falls on her. If Barbie Hsu can achieve a high status with 2001 “Meteor Garden”, then perhaps Chen Qiao En can declare: welcome to the era of Chen Qiao En. What charms does this lady process? How does this girl who had been frozen by her boss for half a year and viewed as a “difficult” willful actress by her friends manages to climb step by step to the top? Other than Chen Qiao En, who else?

After acting with Ming Dao in 2005 “Prince Turned To Frog”, they are rumored to be dating

In 2005, Chen Qiao En acted as a gas tank carrying girl Ye Tian Yu. Her natural and comical acting produced great chemistry with Ming Dao in the drama. Not only did the drama achieved high ratings that are unmatched even by “Meteor Garden”, it also became a topic of hot discussion in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“First Sister” view of “Fated”: I have successfully challenged myself

Before “Fated To Love You” started airing, the heavy promotion of the bed scene invites criticism.

Even though she has a “older woman younger man” love with Ethan Ruan in the drama, but they did not have any scandals out of it which is rare.

This year, Chen Qiao En has a complete change in “Fated To Love You” and acts as “Sticky Note Girl” (referring to unremarkable but indispensible) Chen Xin Yi. Her portrayal of a passerby character like this becomes a character that everybody talks about. Chen Qiao En said frankly: “When I heard about the ratings, I couldn’t believe it. How can we have such a high ratings? Because we never expected this kind of results before filming began. After this I was very happy because my performance has been recognized. The ratings are the most direct reflection that the audience likes my performance and accepts me and they like me. That moment is really very very happy.”

“Prince Turned To Frog” launched her to fame but she wasn’t certain that the audience likes her? Chen Qiao En has her own thoughts: “The feeling is different. Friends who are familiar with me said that I did not really acted in “Prince” because my character is Ye Tian Yu’s character. After “Prince” I did not have any works that stands out and leaves an impression on people. This time when I first received the script I didn’t even know how to act — she doesn’t has much lines, was pregnant before marriage, miscarriage, which female lead of idol dramas is like this? When the drama starts airing, friends will say to me ‘You can really act. You are so difficult in reality but you can act this type of girl.’ This makes me feel that I not only can act as Ye Tian Yu, I can also act characters that are quiet. Maybe I can also act evil girls or girls who are scheming. “Fated” let me feel that I have successfully challenged myself.”

The saying goes: Rome is not built in one day. After acting for 8 years and participating in 10 idol dramas, among them unknown minor characters and outstanding leading roles, Chen Qiao En’s acting skills slowly matured with each drama. “When I was acting a supporting character I often questioned myself. I would be afraid and worried whether my performance is good or not? The director didn’t ask me to act in this way, but I acted in this way. I was worried that I couldn’t say the lines properly, so I spoke faster. Now I have learned to slow down a little and say my lines with the character’s expressions and feelings. I am more certain of myself and my method and will add in my own thoughts. When I started acting, I didn’t know about the camera. But now I will examine how they place the camera, why does the director film it in this manner, when filming my side profile which expression looks best etc.”

After struggling in the entertainment industry for so many years, Chen Qiao En still feels that she has not develop her own style and still raw at acting. “I feel that I am not a genius type of artiste. A good actor depends 50% on talent, which is our own feelings towards acting. Maybe when we read a script, we can immediately have an image. The scene and the way the characters speak plays in your mind. But this talent is not enough to let you succeed. I belong to the type of artistes that are opportunistic. I am quite lazy and never read my script at home and never practices. I only know roughly what I am acting but I don’t memorize my lines and I can’t memorize them. I often wait until I am at the scene and the director asks me to rehearse with the male lead. Then I will practice where to walk and when to turn back my head etc. I don’t memorize my lines and what is even lazier is that I will say my lines in my own way. Taiwanese directors often don’t require their actors to recite word by word from the script. If I feel that some parts are not right, I will say ‘Director, can I say this in another way?’ Luckily the director gives me a lot of room to act.”

Don’t study the character’s psychology, don’t refer to the story background and able to enter the character with 20 minutes of rehearsal before filming? Chen Qiao En is confident regarding this: “When I put on makeup and wears the costume at the scene, I can easily put myself into the situation and don’t need a lot of time. Normally 10 to 20 minutes will be enough. Characters in idol dramas are more or less the same. They have too many areas that are similar. Even in “Fated”, my character can be acted by anybody. Anyone who spends some time studying the character can play the role. I haven’t meets a character that causes me to feel ‘Wah, it’s so difficult to act.’ I can’t say I have acted out my own style but I will still add in my own thoughts.”

The experience of “first sister”, the period of being frozen strengthens my will

The Chen Qiao En who comes out of the freezer not only has one drama after another, she also hosts two shows with Zhen Guo Cheng.

What did Chen Qiao En used to be like? Green? Shy? Cute? People who are familiar with Taiwanese entertainment gossip knows that the best way to describe this newcomer eight years ago was: willful. Longer description is: very willful. When Chen Qiao En first started out, she wasn’t highly regarded. But luckily her first travel show “China Is So Big” was an immediate success. “Little Red En” simple and cute personal won the people’s heart and she was given a chance that causes many to envy, that is to co-host “Variety Flagship” with the big brother of variety show Jacky Wu.

But unfortunately Chen Qiao En ruined everything by drinking. She just fell out of love and used drinking to numb herself. In the end when she went for recording, she smelled of alcohol and her body started to go out of shape. Even in normal recording, she was not used to it and couldn’t adapt. Her performance on screen was distracted. The news angered her manager Sun De Rong. Sun De Rong asked her frankly what did she want? Unexpectedly her reply was “Nothing!” The furious Sun Zong ordered her to be frozen and the company even considered ending her contract. This causes the “J-Stars first sister” to spend an entire year without work and with almost no income.

During this half year, Chen Qiao En experienced the hopeless situation in life and was tortured both physiologically and mentally. She also displays symptoms of “mental anxiety” and “house arrest photophobia” and couldn’t sleep every day. Due to her pride, she refused to shed a single tear and would rather stay at home to wash her latrine every day. “I often couldn’t sleep for 3 to 4 days. Even now when I came home after work, I am very tired but will still go to clean the floor and wash the latrine before I can relax.” She even emphasized, she will clean the latrine until it is sparkling clean before she is satisfied.

Misfortunes never travel alone. After Chen Qiao En was frozen by her company, her bad luck continues. She suffered the painful experience of falling out of love, her family short of money and she had no job all at the same time. Because the company doesn’t have a salary system, having no jobs means having no income. So to save money, other than going to the company for training, she slept at home every day and nearly couldn’t foot her apartment’s rent. “One day I slept too much in the day and woke up in the middle of the night. I went to the balcony which was freezing and looking at Taipei’s night view, said to myself, ‘One day I will thank these people for teaching me to be brave.’ From then on, I don’t complain about life misfortunes any more.

The Chen Qiao En who didn’t know when her bad luck would end finally gained the notice of SET’s vice president Su Li Juan in 2003 and won the role of female lead in idol drama “100% Senorita”. Someone said spitefully to Su Li Juan then: “Take Chen Qiao En out from the freezer, do you go digging for leftovers from the fridge in your spare time?” To this Su Li Juan replied: “She is not leftovers, she is sharks fin. Normally she is put in the freezer but we take her out for sunning occasionally!” This battle is only the beginning of the change in her luck. In 2005 “Prince Turned to Frog”, J-Stars focus their attention on promoting Ming Dao. Her manager Sun De Rong even gave the appraisal that “Chen Qiao En is too old and not suitable for idol dramas”, causing her to go for almost a year with any new drama. Even before this year’s “Fated To Love You” goes on air, people’s merciless criticisms reached her ears: “Will anyone watch this kind of old fashioned love drama?”, “Chen Qiao En and Ethan Ruan acting together? What good drama can they produce?” Today, she can finally feel proud and become “sharks fin” for once.

For anyone else, when they look back on their young and rebellious days, they are either full of regret or filled with gratitude. But not Chen Qiao En. “The biggest emotion is that I have never changed, I have always been like this. I have my own persistence. The boss wants us to hand in an attainment report after every drama but I feel it is not necessary. I didn’t hand in any in the past and I don’t hand in any now either. Like now “Fated” is very popular and they want me to grab the opportunity to come out with an album on this drama but I don’t want to. I wish to sing because I want to sing, sing when I am in the mood and not because the drama is selling very well. But when you are a newcomer and you use this attitude in your affairs and when you are acting, they will say I am willful. Now I still use the same attitude to do things and they say that I have character. My road is very tough. I met with many setbacks and often asked myself ‘Why is it like this? Must I change myself to suit others and live in others’ opinions?’ But I have persisted and now my life is calm. I don’t worry whether people like me or not.”

Chen Qiao En is already 29 years old. In idol dramas this age is awkward because many viewers feel that age after 30 is no longer suitable for idol dramas. Regarding this she is serene: “I don’t think there is a huge problem when it comes to age. I look younger than 5 years ago. The question is my state of mind. I don’t ask questions like whether or not to act in idol dramas, whether it’s a major production or who my costar is. What I wish is whether or not my role is fun and what my thoughts on this character are. I hope to go to the mainland to film a period drama and act as a swordswoman. Taiwanese period dramas are not as good as those in the mainland and many things can’t be realized. I haven’t act in a period drama before but I want to challenge roles that I have never tried before.”

“First Sister” talks about her opponents: wish to act together with other female leads

Among the male stars that she worked with, Chen Qiao En only have gossips with two of them. One is “100% Senorita” Wallace Huo and the other one is the one whom fans still hope they are “together”, Ming Dao. She still denies these two scandals. It was only after a long time that Wallace Huo finally admitted that they once had a relationship. “She wanted too much but I only wanted a career. On love we could not agree.”

Even though she had starred in many idol dramas, in real life her views on love is completely different from “idol drama female leads” and cold. “Idol dramas give many girls a dream and many wish to be cute, beautiful and have a romantic love like the female leads. Many tell me they like to watch my dramas because they see themselves in me. When I heard this, I am very happy but romances in real life are not like idol dramas. I am a strange, eccentric and self-involved person. I can’t give up the things that I like. Living with other people is very difficult. On my own I can control many things. I can decide how many dogs I want to have. To give in to others, I will feel “how troublesome”. I don’t have big dreams when it comes to love. Many people say that I am not cute enough and not feminine like this. But if you really love me why care about these. If you like sweethearts go look for sweethearts, if you like me then accept me for who I am. I won’t change myself for love, I am who I am.”

After “Fated”, people confer the title of “idol drama first sister” on her. But Chen Qiao En doesn’t seem to attach much importance on this title: “I feel that whether or not I am the first sister is not important. I have acted in so many dramas and have put effort in all of them. It’s just that this drama hits it. Calling me idol drama trumpet flower (little sister) is okay too.” This idol drama “first sister” idea of “first sister” is the China’s Sun Li. “I like actresses Maggie Cheung and Sun Li who acted in the new ‘Shanghai Bund’. When I watched them act, they will really inspire me and touched me. I will read their interviews because I am curious about them and wonder how they act so well. If I can go to the mainland to act, I also wish to cooperate with Sun Li and also Zhang Jing Chu. The way they act in the mainland can’t be found in Taiwan.”

When talking about the fight of idol drama first sister with Taiwan’s Ella and Ariel Lin, Chen Qiao En laughed: “Please, I am a loyal fan of S.H.E. When acting in ‘Fated’, I know that Baron Chen is familiar with them and often harass him ‘bring me to their concerts’, causing him to scold me for being troublesome. When I watched Ariel Lin at home I will laugh loudly too. But in Taiwan, in order not to created unwanted news, we have never appears together on the same stage. But I think that they also work very hard. I kind of hope that all of us can act together in the same drama. That will be great.”


I’m really, really, really happy with this article. I love how both the author of the article and Qiao En herself are very honest; neither mince words. The article doesn’t kiss Qiao En’s ass, nor does it beat her down either. It’s good to know that Qiao En is just as human as the rest of us, perhaps even more so, with her depression, alcoholism, and other (mostly mild) mental disorders. And yet, in spite of all this, she had the courage and the will to change herself for the better. I like knowing that history of Qiao En’s, because it makes her subsequent success even more endearing and admirable.

And Qiao En is clear on that she isn’t in this business to make people like her, but rather to make herself happy. On the other hand, you can also tell that she’s grateful for the stroke of good fortune that’s befallen her of late, and that’s she’s touched by her fans’ devotion. She takes things in stride. She’s confident, but not arrogant, and certainly not self-effacing. Some people like that kind of attitude (i.e. self-effacing), but I like that Qiao En is true to herself and refuses to change her personality or her attitude for the sake of convenience.

Qiao En says it best when she states that even through everything, her ordeals and her success, she hasn’t change the slightest bit. She’s still as, some might say, prickly as ever, but it’s good to know that at least here, what you see is exactly what you get.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Qiao En grows further as an actress. smile.gif

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 6:01 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. im also a fan of joe chen aka qiao-en because i have watched in both frog prince and fated to love you here in the phils. since then this ordinary face actress from taiwan have captured my heart. for me she’s not just typical ordinary i can sense in her eyes that she’s a kind-hearted woman and very tough too! i was able to read some of her interviews and from there it was proven the way she answered the questions she’s smart and has deep personality contrary to a lot of criticisms…keep up the good work joe chen! we love you here in the phils and we will keep routing for you loves you much!!!!!

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