Actor Andie Chen’s 17-month-old son Aden filmed his first commercial at just four months old. Some may question his decision to put his child in the spotlight at such a young age, but Chen, 30, says that his son has to do his part for the family. “Aden has just as much responsibility to help the family. Let’s all do our part to try and keep the family afloat,” he quips.
On a serious note, he says: “Kate and I are pretty open and are not the kind to hide our child. Singapore is a safe place. But if Aden tells us in future that he doesn’t want to go on screen, we will not force him.”
In 2013, he wed Taiwan-born, Singapore-based host Kate Pang, 32, and she gave birth to Aden in June last year. A few months later, father and son starred in a commercial for credit card company MasterCard, which was shot in Taipei. In the video uploaded on the company’s YouTube channel, Chen comes up with an innovative solution to change his son’s smelly diapers.
The Singaporean actor had snagged the deal because he was then based in Taiwan. Having honed his career on home ground for six years after winning the 2007 edition of local TV station MediaCorp’s Star Search talent hunt, he decided to give it a shot in Taiwan two years ago. Starting from scratch, he took on a bit role playing a chauffeur in Taiwanese idol drama True Love 365 (2013) and modelled in commercials for a shampoo and a shopping mall. His most notable achievement was a recurring prosecutor role on the long-form Taiwanese drama Independent Heroes.
Chen, a doting dad, has quit the drama and returned to Singapore to spend more time with his family. Back home, the self-managed actor has no lack of jobs. In the first half of this year, he had to juggle three projects – StarHub TV drama Accidental Agents, Channel 8 blockbuster The Journey: Our Homeland and stage musical December Rains.
He and his wife are also working on their YouTube channel, called Kandie Network, which is filled with home videos ranging from Aden’s delivery to a family farm outing. Future content, Chen says, will be centred on parenting issues, such as education methods and food nutrition tips.
1. Why did you decide to start from scratch in the cut-throat Taiwanese show business in 2013?
One reason was because I felt underrated. I felt that it didn’t matter whether I was around or not. I didn’t mind getting supporting roles, but what was the reason for using me? Once, I heard that I was cast because an actor pulled out at the last minute. Looking back, it’s just how the industry works. I wasn’t a better actor and it didn’t help that I wasn’t the most likeable character with all my angst.
Though I was getting meatier roles before I left, I felt fearful that my passion for acting was dying. Before the fire went out, I wanted to try acting in a new environment.
2. How did you snag the role in the long-running Taiwanese series Independent Heroes?
I met my friend and her agent, who were going to TV station Formosa TV, and the agent recommended me to a TV executive. I showed them my showreel on my laptop that I had brought along. The next thing I knew, I was told that I got the role. I took part in shooting the trailer the next day.
3. Why were you initially reluctant to register your marriage?
I’m not someone who is bound by social norms. In our hearts, Kate and I felt that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other. I didn’t see the need to formalise it. We could still settle down and start a family.
4. What made you change your mind?
It boiled down to practical reasons. We wanted to give Aden his citizenship. He holds both Singaporean and Taiwanese passports. For me, becoming a Taiwan permanent resident made it more convenient for me to work there without the hassle of having to renew my visa every few months.
5. What kind of a dad are you?
Gone are the days when a father just provides financially. Sometimes I shower Aden. I’ll try to read a bedtime story to him before he sleeps every night. I won’t say I’m a super dad. I can’t be left alone with him for two months, but I can handle him for a few days on my own. My wife’s really capable and she has done lots of research about parenting. We attend classes that teach different ways of bringing up a child. I would say I play the supporting role in parenting Aden.
6. Any plans to return to Taiwan?
I’m going back next year to make a cameo appearance in a director friend’s movie. I would love to be able to work in Singapore and Taiwan. Since my kid is still young, my family comes first now. I still wish to move forward with my career, but I don’t mind taking time to develop it.
7. Why did you and your wife start the YouTube channel Kandie Network?
The channel is a platform to showcase our interests and skills. My wife Kate has a degree in food and beverage management. She also has an interest in cooking and food nutrition. I’m interested in producing and directing. I have a diploma in film, sound and video from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The channel will be a project that we can work on together as a family. That is such a joy.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
I would not like to be remembered. I don’t think I’m that significant. While I’m around, my aim is to live life to the fullest and fulfil whatever responsibilities that I have, be it as a husband, father, son or brother.