After three decades, Angeline Tan still finds joy in acting, and will take on a ‘dragon lady’ role
SHE was a youthful beauty who became a household name playing the girl-next-door character Lucy in popular TV3 sitcom Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu. But soon, Angeline Tan Yoke Yeah will star in her most challenging role yet.
The Kuala Lumpur-born actress is currently filming a Mandarin language drama series, My Sensei Nyonya. She plays Huang Feng Huang, a Peranakan Chinese family matriarch who is ruthless in defending her family’s honour.
Tan, 59, stars alongside Jojo Goh (of the KRU film 29 Februari), Frederick Lee (of Saw Teong Hin’s You Mean The World To Me) and veteran Chinese drama series star Kong Kar Weng in this 45-minute 30-episode series, which will premiere next year on ntv7.
OLD BUT GOLD ONSCREEN
Filming will last for 20 days, mainly in Kuala Lumpur and George Town, Penang, and ends in August.
“Feng Huang is a real challenge as she marks my first time playing someone two decades older,” said Tan in a recent interview.
Describing her character as a calm, yet fearsome woman, Tan said she will be heavily made up to look like a 70-something. “I have to speak slowly and give penetrating stares to whomever I’m talking to. I also have to walk with a slight hunch as a ageing matriarch would.”
She will don colourful, traditional Peranakan Chinese dresses and have her hair tied into a chignon and secured with silver hairpins.
“When I first looked at myself in the mirror, in full costume, I thought I was truly intimidating. And yes, my character is mean and cold-hearted!”
Known primarily as a comedian, Tan has appeared in various TV dramas and films over the years, among them Sembilu 2005, Bohsia 2: Jalan Pulang, KL Gangster 2 and Redha.
Two of her toughest roles have been as the no-nonsense chief inspector Geena in Datuk Yusof Haslam’s long-running police procedural drama series Gerak Khas on TV1, and senior gang member Sue, the mother of the villain Shark (Syamsul Yusof) in KL Gangster.
“To date, I’ve starred in more than 30 Cantonese and Mandarin drama series on TV2, TV3 and ntv7, and one of my last appearances as a supporting character was on ntv7’s I Am Not A Loser.”
Tan, the eldest of seven children, initially worked in a beauty products company by day and acted by night. She started acting in 1986 in the long-running Chinese drama series Empat Sekawan alongside Datuk Lai Meng.
She then became a regular in Bahasa Malaysia sitcoms, such as Untuk Ibu (1988), Pak Din KK (1992), Camni Camtu (1993) and Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu (1994). “Most of my early works were directed by Othman Hafsham. He taught me the basics of acting, and it was easy to work with him.
“Along the way I also made friends with my regular co-stars such as Imuda, the late Ahmad Busu, the late Zami Ismail, Sathiya and Sabri Yunus. We keep in touch from time to time, and during Hari Raya celebrations at the Prime Minister’s open house, Sathiya and I play the role of emcees.”
EAGER TO LEARN
Tan originally dreamt of becoming a make-up artist and businesswoman with her own gift shop and cafe. “All this changed when some friends encouraged me to try my luck in acting.”
The mother of two children aged 23 and 26, has maintained her youthful looks by practising moderation in life. “I don’t have any secret formulas. All I do is eat moderately and think positive thoughts.”
She also says being friendly kind and forgiving keeps her young-at-heart. “Having a sense of humour helps a lot, too!”
Tan believes that every role she stars in is a new learning experience which also brings her fond memories of the people she has worked with, and places she has visited. “I’m open to playing all sorts of characters because it adds value to my life.”
Tan’s next project is a science fiction film, which is a joint venture between Malaysia and China. “That sounds really interesting, but I’ve no details of the film yet.”