Donnie Yen’s secret to a happy marriage - listen to his wife

Donnie Yen, star of Ip Man, with his wife Cecilia Wang, a former beauty queen from Toronto.
Donnie Yen, star of Ip Man, with his wife Cecilia Wang, a former beauty queen from Toronto. ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Ip Man star Donnie Yen and his wife Cecilia Wang say they have a happy marriage because he listens to her

Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen is like Ip Man in more ways than just their shared ability to fight - he is all about promoting morals.

It is why he takes on family- friendly films such as film franchise Ip Man, where he plays the titular martial arts expert known for his principles and patriotism.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday morning, the 52-year-old said in English: "I'm not the type of actor who takes on certain roles just for the satisfaction of having conquered that type of role. I have a goal for my film career. I want to make films that make a difference.

"I want to bring positive messages to society. That's why I purposely choose these roles and films. It's not just so that my family can watch my films together, but because these are my beliefs."

Other than Ip Man 3, the latest instalment of the franchise that is now showing in cinemas, he will soon be seen in the movies Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, the sequel to Lee Ang's acclaimed 2000 wuxia flick.

Rumour has it that Yen will play a resistance fighter in Rogue One and the role of a man tasked to protect a legendary sword in Crouching Tiger.

His upright nature is one of the reasons his wife Cecilia Wang found him attractive. The former beauty queen, who represented her native Toronto at the Miss Chinese International beauty pageant in 2000, recalls the days when they started dating in 2003.

The 34-year-old says: "I wasn't too aware of his background actually because I don't watch a lot of films, especially Chinese films, since I grew up in Toronto.

"But I just felt like, wow, this guy is really honest. So even though we dated for a short time before he proposed, I just knew it was right because I felt like I wanted to see him every day."

The couple reportedly dated for only three months before they got engaged. They have two children, James, eight, and Jasmine, 12.

Yen also has a 20-year-old son, Jeff, from his short-lived first marriage to advertising executive Leung Zing Ci.

The Yens were in Singapore to talk to the media about their new roles as brand ambassadors for Resorts World Sentosa. Over the past week, they have been enjoying the facilities at the integrated resort and eating up a storm.

Yen says it is the first time in a while that he has managed to get proper sleep. "Normally, I have insomnia because of my work schedule and always having to fly around the world. But I really slept well these past few days."

The couple are known for being very loving and family-oriented.

What is the secret to their happy marriage? He says: "It's all about 'happy wife, happy life'. I think it's important that men be more tolerant, so I listen to my wife.

"Besides, she always makes the better and more thoughtful decisions for our family, so I trust her completely."

His wife laughs and quips: "For his own good, he should listen to me."


• Ip Man 3 is showing in cinemas.

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Mrs Ip Man calls the shots'. Print Edition | Subscribe