Rainie Yang isn't a cutie pie any more, really

Taiwanese singer Rainie Yang, 30, launched her career as a cutie-pie idol 15 years ago. Now that image is working against her.

The doe-eyed lass is well aware that it has resulted in prejudice against her vocal abilities.

She says matter-of-factly: "I made my debut in an idol group and I have also acted in idol dramas. I was packaged as an idol and that image has stuck.

"I can't blame others for stereotyping me. Of course, I feel a little resigned. I just have to work harder. I'm comforted to know that people are starting to take note of my vocal abilities."

She was in town to promote her latest album, A Tale Of Two Rainie, which has earned praise for its more mature and sophisticated sound.

Sporting a chic bob at Friday's press conference, she looks different from her cutesy younger persona.

"Previously, my image was tailored to meet market demands. I had to do things that weren't totally like the real me. But for this album, it's 100 per cent me," says Yang, who was given the label Priestess Of Cute by the Taiwanese media at the start of her career.

After her girl group 4 In Love disbanded in 2002, she went on to pursue a successful solo career in singing and acting.

She has released nine solo albums and is the leading lady of idol dramas such as Devil Beside You (2005) and Hi My Sweetheart (2009), which earned her the Best Leading Actress gong at the 2010 Golden Bell award, Taiwan's equivalent of the Emmys.

Having started in show business at the age of 15, she is a seasoned interviewee.

She flashes her pearly whites during the interview and dodges questions about her reported romance with Chinese singer Li Ronghao without breaking a sweat.

While her love life is an out-of-bounds topic, she is more than happy to talk about turning 30 last year.

She says she took it as a chance to take stock of her life and the self-proclaimed workaholic is looking to achieve work-life balance.

"Show-business seniors have told me that an artist needs to enjoy life so as to enrich one's performance," says Yang, who admits that she still gets a kick from having a packed work schedule.

She has started taking short walks to unwind. She also managed to go on a short getaway with friends to the eastern part of Taiwan last year.

Recounting her rare vacation, she says: "An outing to the night market, nibbling on snacks, is nothing out of the ordinary for people. But to me, the happiness I experienced was akin to a young child's glee when he first learns how to ride a bicycle. My friends were all bewildered."

She also decided to learn to be independent and started living alone last year.

Her mother moved into a new apartment, though Yang sheepishly admits that her mother's new home is in the next block and she still pops by for home-cooked meals.

Yang, whose mother single-handedly raised her and her older sister, says: "I enjoy the freedom of staying up as late as I want and blasting my music. But I realised that I miss my mother's nagging."

A Tale Of Two Rainie is available in stores and on iTunes.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.