Taiwanese melodrama actress Kelly Liao, a star in the long-running Taiwanese soap opera Night Market from 2009 to 2011, says she is no longer taking on such roles.
Her family comes first, says Liao who gave birth at the end of 2011 to the first of her two children with her Hong Kong businessman husband.
"I'm mostly doing endorsements and commercials now.
"I'll take on a role only if it doesn't require a long filming period and if the script is good," says the 36-year-old in Mandarin in a telephone interview with Life!.
The relentless filming schedule of Taiwanese melodramas is not conducive for actors with young children, to say the least.
Liao recalls: "There were times when we'd film for an entire week without a break in between and we'd be doing these location shoots where even though we were very tired, we had to keep smiling and be on alert because we were in public."
It was a strain on her marriage as well.
"My husband would fly to Taiwan from Hong Kong to visit me, but I had perhaps about three hours to be with him, for example, between 3 and 5 in the morning."
The filming for Night Market has long concluded, but she is still working in its name.
The popular series has generated a cottage industry of sideline activities, such as the upcoming Night Market 2013 concert in Singapore.
The concert, the second of Night Market's concerts here, will feature some of the serial's biggest stars such as Liao and Fang Xin.
It has received such overwhelming response that the organisers have added an extra show on the same day on June 15.
At the concert, the stars will reprise their roles in reenactments of some memorable scenes from the series.
Liao says getting back into her Night Market persona is a piece of cake; it is getting out of the role that was the problem for her, especially during filming.
"If I had acted as someone's enemy in a previous drama, I would feel an animosity towards her even if we were acting as good friends in a current drama. I wouldn't even want to help her get food even if we were eating at the same table," she says with a laugh.
The real-reel confusion extends to viewers, including her mother-in-law, who identified Liao completely with her Night Market role of Ruyi, a kind-hearted, long-suffering woman whose husband abandoned her.
Liao says: "When my mother-in-law came to Taiwan and watched my show, she liked me a lot because of the role I was playing in Night Market.
"She pities me a lot because of Ruyi and she'll even help me when I quarrel with my husband and stand up for me, saying I'm obedient and sweet."
What if she had played an evil character in Night Market?
"Then, maybe my mother-in-law would be so scared of me. She wouldn't dare to fight with me," Liao replies jokingly.
She goes on to explain that one of her co-stars in Night Market, Fang Xin, played quite a strong character in the drama, so when they go out together, "people are usually quite scared of her".
"It's really funny."
The Night Market benefits have not yet dried up for her. Even now, shopkeepers give her discounts.
"They will even recommend clothes that I don't usually wear because they see me as my character."
Currently living in Hong Kong, Liao finds life to be much quieter although she still runs into Night Market fans occasionally.
"There was this one time I went to a temple in Hong Kong and there was a Taiwanese tourist who shouted out 'Ruyi!' to me. That was quite memorable."
This story was first published in The Straits Times on May 29, 2013
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