Singaporean model, actor and show host Teddy Tang: Aiming for greater heights

Singaporean model, actor and show host Teddy Tang does not mind putting on 20kg or looking ugly to try a different role

Teddy Tang (above), who is in Channel 8 drama Dream Coder, hopes to be the first Singaporean to act in a Marvel superhero franchise. A cobblestone road in Paris.
Teddy Tang (above), who is in Channel 8 drama Dream Coder, hopes to be the first Singaporean to act in a Marvel superhero franchise. A cobblestone road in Paris.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Teddy Tang, who is in Channel 8 drama Dream Coder (above), hopes to be the first Singaporean to act in a Marvel superhero franchise. A cobblestone road in Paris.
Teddy Tang, who is in Channel 8 drama Dream Coder (above), hopes to be the first Singaporean to act in a Marvel superhero franchise. A cobblestone road in Paris.PHOTO: MEDIACORP


Singaporean Teddy Tang stands at an imposing height of 1.88m. He fits right in with lanky models on the runways of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Back on home ground to film Channel 8 dramas now, the strapping man looms over fellow actors.

To be captured in the same frame of a close-up shot with a female co- star, Tang, 30, has had to spread his legs to match her height. Otherwise, she would have to stand on a box.

Even the 1.82m-tall actor Desmond Tan was dwarfed by him in a stand-off scene in the upcoming drama, Dream Coder.

Recalling that on screen confrontation, which turned into a hilarious moment, Tang says: "I was seated and he was standing there, shouting at me.

"I retaliated and stood up, and Desmond said, 'The moment you stood up, you stole my thunder. I have to look up to you."

Tang, a bachelor, may be relatively new to TV viewers here, but he has been carving out a modelling career since winning a local TV talent hunt, Hey Gorgeous, in 2012.

Within the same year, the then part-time model flew to Hong Kong to pursue a modelling career after graduating with a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree from Nanyang Technological University.

His golden opportunity arrived when he relocated to Taiwan in 2013 and a mutual friend introduced him to a manager at Taiwanese agency Catwalk.

His exotic good looks - inherited from a Taiwanese mother and a Singaporean Chinese father with Dutch and Japanese blood - landed him a spot with Catwalk in 2015.

Now, Tang has joined the ranks of Catwalk's big names such as model- actress Lin Chiling, Golden Horse Best Actress nominee actress Tiffany Ann Hsu and Singapore's golden couple Fann Wong and Christopher Lee.

Setting his sights beyond the runway and photo shoots, Tang is looking to expose himself to all facets of the entertainment world.

He made his rounds at the Taiwanese variety show circuit - displaying his wit on talk shows Genius Go Go Go and GTV Delicious and testing his athletic ability on gameshow Variety Get Together.

Tang later returned to Singapore to take on local productions such as Channel 5 series Tanglin, and Channel 8 dramas Hero (2016) and You Can Be An Angel 2 (2016). He can also be seen hosting local fashion talk show Closet Secrets, alongside veteran host Quan Yi Fong.

He already had a taste of filming at the age of eight, when he was a calefare in one of the classic Aiyoyo Teacher dramas in the 1990s.

He says: "I had dreams of becoming an actor. I was one of the students on the show, but you couldn't see me because I was running around. It was an intriguing experience to me. From then on, I got hooked on local dramas."

1 Did you have doubts about pursuing an unconventional career in modelling?

For the first three months after joining Catwalk, I was jobless in Taiwan. I was an unknown. I went for very few castings and did not get the jobs. My confidence plummeted.

I started to question myself about my abilities. I felt down and wondered what would have happened if I'd taken the corporate route.

I overcame it eventually by seeking counselling and occupied myself with exercise and by going for classes to improve myself.

2 What was it like appearing as a guest on Taiwanese variety shows?

Everything moves very fast. The hosts and guests are quick and witty. Because I grew up in Singapore, many times I felt like I was drowning amid the Mandarin vocabulary and words exchanged. You will end up being quiet and that is when you will lose your airtime.

Even for a one-hour variety show, you feel like you are going for a war. You learn to let go and speak up.

3 You have model proportions - 1.88m tall and weighing 76kg. Did you always look so good?

I did not have many friends in my teens because I was fat. I weighed 105kg at my heaviest. I even had to specially tailor my school uniform. I ate a lot back then. I could finish my own McDonald's upsized meal, eat my friend's leftover fries and get myself a sundae.

In my secondary school graduation photographs, I was twice the size of my friends and it made me determined to lose weight.

Over 11/2 years, I lost 40kg by dieting and exercising.

4 What roles do you hope to play?

In Hero, I'm a rich casanova. In Dream Coder, I'm again an antagonist who betrays his friends.

I don't want people to stereotype me as the bad guy. I want to try something different. I would "uglify" myself and put on 20kg for a role. I want to try playing someone with a disability or a victim of bullying.

5 Why do you get cast for villain roles?

People have told me I look like a villain. When I don't smile and don't speak, people think that I am unapproachable.

Extras on set have told me I look hao lian (Hokkien for show-off), but they later realise I am the exact opposite of their first impression after I start chatting with them.

6 Is your mixed heritage a pro or con when it comes to advancing your show business career?

My looks make me memorable, even if I appear on TV for a brief moment. People here have recognised me from my TV roles. But I might be restricted to certain roles. For instance, I can't play a "pure" Chinese role.

To survive, I will have to constantly learn. If your acting is good, people will cast you.

Just look at actress Tiffany Ann Hsu, who is of Italian and Taiwanese descent. She is very successful in Taiwan now.

7 What are the qualities of your ideal girl?

I am not dating now. I would like to find a girl who is understanding. In this industry, we work long hours every day, even during the festive season.

If my girlfriend is not understanding, there will be a lot of arguments. Most importantly, I hope she can go through my scripts with me. It is good to have someone to go through your lines with you. These days, I ask my friends or mother for help.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I always dreamed of becoming a superhero when I watched the X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons as a child.

I hope to achieve my dream and be remembered as the first Singaporean to act in a Marvel superhero franchise.

Asians are under-represented in Hollywood, especially in superhero movies. It would be great to be an inspiration to kids to show that it is possible to achieve your dreams if you give them a shot.

•Dream Coder premieres on Channel 8 on Feb 7 at 9pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Aiming for greater heights'. Print Edition | Subscribe