Photography Veronica Tay Art Direction Chelza Pok Styling Martin Wong Hair Junz Like / Passion Hair Salon Make Up Agnes Ng, using M.A.C
Fann Wong has shed her shoot clothes and is now standing in St. Regis Singapore’s Presidential Suite wearing a loose blue shirt, black skirt and tan gladiators that show off her slim legs. Her long hair is in loose waves, and her porcelain-white complexion is free of makeup—and lines. She still has the physique of the kung-fu-fighting girl from Jackie Chan’s Shanghai Knights, but what I’m seeing in front of me is a softer Wong. It’s clear that the 45-year-old actress and singer is just as happy bouncing her 18-month-old son, Zed, on her tummy and serenading him with Christmas songs (his favourite), as she is on the red carpet.
“I think I’m a totally changed person. Even my husband says that,” she says. “I used to be a morning person, but now, I’m a dawn person [laughs]. I used to love being up late chatting with my husband; now, by 8pm, I’m fast asleep with my son.”
The new mummy also has a more carefree attitude to life in general. “I’m a person who is so afraid of the sun. If I am asked to take part in any activities that have to do with the sun, I’ll say no. Even when we went to the Maldives [for their bridal shoot], I was always with an umbrella,” laughs Wong.
“But now, I will take my son to the Botanic Gardens for walks, go swimming… and I don’t mind getting tanned. He has made me more relaxed. We’ll stop and smell the roses; we take life at a much slower pace.”
Even she didn’t expect such a change in herself: “I call myself a workaholic and get restless if I have no work, but I love these quieter moments with Zed.”
Wong says that from the moment she found out she was pregnant with Zed, she “couldn’t stop smiling.” But the new mum had no reason to be stressed as she had her support crew—her husband of seven years, Malaysian actor Christopher Lee.
“He was very supportive. He took leave before and after I gave birth to be by my side. As this is our first child, he was worried about me being nervous,” says Wong. “He was also very anxious about my diet. He’d say, ‘Hmm, maybe you shouldn’t drink so much cold water, or no more soda please… ’ During my last trimester, he even used to walk with me in the pool.”
But when she went into labour with Zed, it was a movie-style drama in itself. “After 15 hours I still hadn’t given birth, so they decided to rush me to the operating theatre,” she explains. “I was quite nervous. I didn’t know anything about a C-section; I was determined on giving birth naturally all along.” But after a hairy couple of hours, Wong gave birth by cesarean section on National Day 2014. “I was full of joy,” she recalls.
While she is still making movies—one in Taiwan, coming out at the end of this year, and one potentially in China next year—family comes first for Wong. “I can’t be away for more than two weeks, I will just go crazy without him,” she says.
Yet, like any new mum, she has moments of self-doubt. “Every mum will feel that she has not done enough, or [is] not good enough for her baby. Sometimes, I think about that also,” she whispers. “But I’ve come to learn that you should be a happy mother, because if you’re happy, so will your baby.”
Wong became a star early on in life. After winning a magazine modelling competition, she was snapped up to star in a TV show, before being approached by Hollywood. But it’s plain to see that her own mother, whom Wong took part of her stage name from, had a big part to play in keeping her grounded.
“I always knew that mum loved us. I used to argue with her because she was always feeding us. But now I’m doing that to Zed. I totally understand where mum was coming from and I’ve come to appreciate her more,” says Wong.
There was a flurry of excitement late last year when their fan base misread one of Lee’s posts and thought that the couple were expecting again.
“Of course, I would love to. But considering my age, it’s not so easy… ,” Wong says, deep in thought. “If we are blessed to have another one, it would be the most beautiful thing. But we’ll see… ”
At the moment, they are just having fun with Zed. While Lee is heavily involved in Zed’s parenting, Wong says she is in charge of feeding time. “I love to plan his menu. Now that he’s one-and-a-half, it means I can now introduce this food to him, or that to him,” says Wong, excitedly.
Wong and Lee have starred in eight films together; their wedding was screened on TV, but they have no plans to bring Zed into show business.
“No, no, no,” protests Wong in mock horror, when I suggest they give him a part in one of their movies. “He has too much energy; I’m so drained!” (This singer mum hopes that Zed is musical, but that’s as far as it goes).
Wong has more simple aspirations for her son. “I just want him to be happy; enjoy what he’s doing; and have a kind heart.”
This story was first published in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.