Darling of Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, Vogue Hong Kong’s August issue cover star Cecilia Cheung has captured the hearts of many ever since she entered the industry as a wide-eyed 18 year old. Cheung went on to prove her acting chops in King of Comedy, Star Wishes and Unforgettable but perhaps what stands out most about the actress is her deep honesty on and off screen. Although she’s since stepped away from the Hong Kong screen, Cheung’s life is no less exciting as a mother of three.
Photographer Wing Shya captures the starlet’s timeless, untouched beauty for this month’s cover shoot, where she stuns wearing Fendi with jewellery by Mikimoto. In an exclusive interview, the veteran actress tells Vogue Hong Kong how she continues to explore new endeavours while also detailing her journey to stardom and more. The double cover edition of the August issue is available in all bookstores, convenience stores and newsstands in Hong Kong from Aug 3.
View this post on Instagram
It’s been a while since you’ve starred on the cover of a Hong Kong magazine. How do you feel about shooting today?
It brings back a lot of memories of being on set. So much of my work – “Wu Yen” included has been shot here and it makes me miss the feeling of being on set. I also reunited with a lot of people that I’ve worked with before and it seems like so little has changed!
You turned forty-one in May. Has the start of your forties’ given you any new life insight?
It’s definitely been a transitional year in my life. When I started out in the industry, I used to be quite bubbly and at times a little flighty. I find myself a lot more quiet these days. I don’t particularly care about turning forty because age is just a number and it’s all about how you look at it. I do think about my three sons growing up. I guess you could say, their ages are the ones I really care about.
These days you split your time between the Mainland and Hong Kong. Is there anything you miss about the latter when you are away filming?
In Shanghai, I’d be reminded of Hong Kong every time I passed by the night lights by the Bund. Out of every city in China, Shanghai and Hong Kong probably look the most similar. I used to live in Central, so I’d see a similar view. Also, people in both cities run on takeaway! When we worked in Shanghai, my team and I would love to order lunch from the cafés around. It was super convenient.
You competed in the mainland variety show “The Sister Who Rides the Waves”. Tell us a little about your experience filming a reality show.
For some people, dancing and singing is an intoxicating feeling. I didn’t go into the show with the same mindset of enjoying the stage. Out of everyone there, I didn’t have as much stage experience. Nevertheless, it was exciting. I wanted to challenge myself to try something new. I’ve been performing for over 20 years, so I’ve had a lot of time to get good at what I do. Dancing was different – I looked forward to starting work each day because I felt like a newcomer. It’s good to try new things while you still have the energy for life. Past forty-five, I’m not sure if I will feel the same way.
In the future, what kind of TV shows would you like to try and take on?
I’ve always wanted to be a part of a TV drama, but I didn’t want to spend four to five months away from home and family, especially during the pandemic. If I land a movie with a good script, however, I’d be willing to do it. That’s why I prefer variety shows. Perhaps I’ll consider trying something new when the movie scene is more active.
Who or what from your childhood do you think has influenced your personality the most?
My personality is 70% nature and 30% my father. I come from a big family. We all lived in the same environment but we had different personalities. When you’re a child you become similar to who you admire, and I admired my father. When I was growing up I agreed more with my father, so I became like him without noticing. My father is really tough, and until now I have not seen another person who is tougher than him. I have never heard him talk about his hardships, not even when he fell ill and had to go to the hospital. He has never faltered in front of me, so I have slowly grown to face everything in life with the same spirit. I am a tough person who is rather optimistic. When I was younger I didn’t notice this about myself. Now that I look back, I’ve always been the same way.
In past interviews you’ve given, you spoke of having a volatile life since childhood. How have these experiences shaped your way of dealing with people and things?
With everything, I have a voice inside me that says, “This is how it is, it’s no big deal. I don’t feel like I have to die, just like my father did. I think it’s better this way. Sometimes when my son cries, or when the kids argue, I say, “Yes! Let them not think so much. Lucas, the eldest son, has learned more; Quintus, the second son, is more dramatic and humorous, always trying to lighten the mood by being funny, more lively; the youngest son is naughty, but he is learning how to behave. There is very little crying in our family, probably because I rarely deal with problems by crying. Now that they are older, I realize that when they were little, they absorbed things that I never thought were true.
What are some of the experiences you are glad you’ve had that have helped you grow and become a better you?
I’m grateful for every experience because of what it has taught me. That’s why I like and accept every past. Without the past, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
What are you most grateful for?
Taking care of my family. I’ve been taking care of my family for more than 20 years now. I used to work hard when I was young, taking care of my family while working, but now my family is all settled. The elder ones are old and the little ones who wanted to grow up are all grown up, so I’m glad I had the heart to take care of my family when I was young. Now at the age of 41, I don’t feel any burden. In addition, I’m glad that I formed a family when I was young. If I didn’t have a family, I wouldn’t know where to go now.
Fortunately, when I was young, I insisted on being myself and following my heart to take care of my family more. Although many voices told me to live more for myself, I never listened. Maybe I already decided at a very young age what my life would be like when I got old, so why did I insist on it in the first place? I want a very stable life, not an exciting one. I wanted to get married and have children sooner.
How did you discover your inner self?
Truly, it is quite simple. When something happens to you, there are external opinions but you learn to ground yourself with your own beliefs. As you grow older, you know that being comfortable with something and being sure of yourself is most important. I never do anything if I’m not sure of it. When I was younger, I would get told that I was very unstable. In fact, it’s because I’m a lot more headstrong and faster than others. I follow my own feelings and I hate wasting time. I’m also a very sensitive person and whether it’s a relationship or a job, I don’t want to waste time.
How has motherhood changed you?
I tried my hardest to experience motherhood as I had always planned. My mother gave birth to me when I was 18 and because of that, I probably wished I could have children at a young age too. There are things you don’t do now that you will encounter later. I analyzed each step she took very carefully, like trading dating for the delivery room – all for the life I wanted for myself when I turned 50. So everything has gone according to plan. When Lucas grows up in four to five years, I’m sure I’ll be old enough to simply enjoy the scene.
People come and leave. Some believe that separation is the result of fate, while others are willing to try again. How do you see love now?
Every person comes into your life for a reason. Crossing paths with someone is not a fate to me because I don’t know what “fate” is, but I do know what “reason” is, so I will accept it if someone wants to leave. I rarely fall apart after a breakup. I can think rationally in every relationship, so it is quite hard for me to cry. If someone comes, I will love, but if they leave, I will accept it, because I will feel like they left for a reason. I deeply believe that if someone does not leave your life, the next person will not come. If the next person does come, I will be happy. I did not care much about love when I was young, and I was not a romantic either. I was clear-headed, so I did not feel a desperate desire to be in a relationship. But when love comes, I feel happy. I follow my heart.
Click here to subscribe ebooks from Magzster and hard copies.
Photographer: WingShya @Shyalala Studio
Creative and Fashion Director: Sean Kunjambu
Makeup Artist: Will Wong
Hair Stylist: Kolen But
Producer & Set Designer: Katherine Ho
Manicurist: Pinky Ho
Retoucher: Aly Studio
Photography Assistants: Kiu Lau, Samuel Chan & Sunny Wan
Fashion Assistants: Foxla Chiu & Nicole Streun
Cover Wardrobe: Fendi by Kim Jones
Cover Jewellery: Mikimoto