By SETO KIT YAN
Tavia Yeung Yi does not shy away from danger to deliver her best on screen.
Manoeuvring a boat rocked by underwater explosions or jumping off a building while fighting suspended on wires is all in a day’s work for Hong Kong actress Tavia Yeung Yi. While stunts like these may be dangerous, none of them caused as much damage as a pair of high heeled shoes.
Long periods of filming all day sashaying around on dainty stilettos when she was filming modern series had put tremendous strain on her spine. The demure actress suffered from an inflammation in the lower back leading to an irregular curvature in her spine.
“The doctor’s advice to me was to stop all activity and take a long break to recuperate. But to stop work totally means no income for me, so I just have to be more careful in the action scenes.”
Her latest TV series has her playing salt trader Dau Sing Suet in Sweetness in the Salt (Sing Suet Yim Jaan, 2008). “There are many action scenes as there is a lot of fighting involved. I enjoy them but I’m also worried that I might hurt my back and aggravate the old injury.”
Yeung also sings the series’ theme song with her co-star Steven Ma Chun Wai, who plays the male lead, Nip Ji Yuen.
The lovely actress vividly recalled some of her most dangerous stunts in Twin of Brothers (Dai Tong Seung Lung Juen, 2004), which was filmed in China during winter.
“It was freezing that night and I was dressed very lightly for temperatures that were likely below zero. It was quite terrifying to be floating about in the waters when the underwater explosion violently rocked the boat.”
Another dangerous stunt saw her running and jumping off a building suspended from a wire, then landing on her feet and unsheathing her sword, all in one single take. “That was extremely difficult to do. I had to do more than a dozen takes.”
With her popularity on the rise, Yeung has been invited to Malaysia many times this year. She has been named the new face of ~H20+ (a sea-derived skincare product) in Malaysia and was in Kuala Lumpur to promote the award-winning series Heart of Greed (Tong Sam Fung Bo, 2007) as well as Moonlight Resonance (Ga Ho Yuet Yuen, 2008), sometimes referred to as Heart of Greed 2 because it features the same cast but tells a different story altogether.
Although she wishes for some villainous roles, she disclosed that the management of ~H2O+ was very glad that she has yet to play a truly wicked character. “I believe I could give a fresh interpretation, the result could be truly out of the ordinary.”
The closest she has gotten to portraying a bad character is model Cheung Man Lai in Heart of Greed, where she turns to smoking and drinking for stress relief and even has an extra-marital affair.
She does not smoke in real life, yet her convincing portrayal of a saucy smoking and drinking character won her new fans. The actress was surprised by the positive response although she is worried that the smoking and drinking would have a negative influence on children.
The actress says that her favourite role to date is Tam Chu Mei, otherwise known as sexy Mimi, in Dicey Business (Dou Cheung Fung Wan, 2006) where she had to wear a padded bra to portray a busty girl. She suggested to the director to give Mimi a speech impediment to make the character more adorable.
It was hailed as her breakthrough role by her steadily increasing number of fans. Where previously she played the innocent girl-next-door types, this role saw her delivering an overtly sexy character for the first time.
Yeung, who recently turned 29, has featured in 45 TV series. Last year, four of the series starring Yeung made it to TVB’s five top-rated dramas. They were Dicey Business, Heart of Greed, On the First Beat and Fathers and Sons.
She was named Actress with the Most Potential at TVS Awards 2006, Next Magazine’s WHY Best Fashion Style Award 2007 and Best Actress in a Drama at Sina’s 10th Macau/Hong Kong Entertainment Awards 2007, among others.
“I enjoy costumed roles but on the other hand modern ones are very relaxed and easygoing. The clothes are simple, and there is no need for heavy costumes. We film in air-conditioned surroundings. It’s all very comfortable, and there isn’t much pressure.
“For costumed roles, the headgear alone is usually very heavy and most times the costumes are quite heavy too. However, I get to experience many different time periods. I’m not very good at history so this gives me the opportunity to learn more. Moreover, I get to dress up in beautiful costumes and have my hair done up nicely.”
Yeung professes to enjoy eating but still manages to remain shapely. “I enjoy most foods, in particular snacks, though I don’t eat candy or chocolate. So, I don’t really find it a chore to lose weight.
She prefers to do things the natural way. “For exercise, I like to jog and play badminton. I also try to eat more fruits and less oily food to keep trim. It may take some effort but it is the healthiest and most lasting way to remain fit.”
OMA! She likes to play badminton too! Wooo! Badminton is the GREATEST SPORT! Watch Moonlight Resonance and support Tavia!!! I love her performance in there! Every time she cries, I must have a box of tissues next to me because I'll cry too... -sniff sniff- I hope she has happy ending with Ah Ka! All hail Moonlight Resonance! (and Tavia!) Hehehe!