SINGAPORE – Myolie Wu is perhaps most remembered for her award-winning small-screen roles as an empress consort in the TVB drama Curse Of The Royal Harem (2011) and a barrister in Ghetto Justice (2011).
But the Hong Kong actress’ childhood ambition was to be a doctor.
And, after some 20 years in show business, she finally gets to play one in the Chinese medical drama Beloved Life, which is streaming on iQiyi International.
In a recent Zoom interview with local media from Hong Kong last Tuesday, the 42-year-old feels a doctor is a “very interesting profession” and she had thought of pursuing that path in secondary school – until she withdrew from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where she majored in biochemistry, to sign up with Hong Kong broadcaster TVB as a full-time artiste.
In Beloved Life, she plays a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist, who is the head of department in a hospital and mentor to two residents (played by Chinese actresses Victoria Song and Wang Xiaochen).
Wu – who has three sons aged four, three and one – shares that portraying a health professional gave her a deeper understanding of the fragility of life, and that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has also emphasised the importance of health.
“To be honest, I am not young any more. I pay greater attention to my health because I want to have more time to be with my kids,” she says.
The show’s team arranged for the cast to visit an actual hospital to learn about the daily goings-on faced by doctors to prepare them for their roles.
For Wu, another source of professional expertise was her own obstetrician-gynecologist, whom she is close to.
She says: “I am very lucky. If I have any questions, I can ask, for example, how to say specific lines.”
It is hinted that Wu’s character, although successful and well put-together, is struggling with family issues.
“I think some people in real life might (be going through a similar) experience. I can empathise with women who, for various reasons, choose to tolerate and bury their unhappiness.”
Wu herself is happily married to Hong Kong businessman Philip Lee since 2015, the year she left TVB, and their family of five seems to be living it up on social media.
She recently uploaded photos of them on a staycation at The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel in Hong Kong, tucking into desserts and taking part in painting activities. Earlier this month, they also visited Hong Kong Disneyland, where they went on rides and saw the fireworks shows.
But she is also aware that being a working mum may mean she is not able to give her all to her career.
During the interview, she stresses that it is “not the most important” whether she acts in a main or supporting role, but whether she likes the part and if it suits her.
She says: “If I did not have kids, I could maybe be (based) in mainland China, waiting for job opportunities. But I cannot do this, because I have a family here (in Hong Kong). I think in life, you have to give up something to gain something.”
And that could mean expanding her brood. Since she already has three sons, will she be open to trying for a girl next? With a smile, she says: “Let’s see what fate brings.”