In 1985, TVB's variety show, Enjoy Yourself Tonight, held a Sally Yeh impersonating contest. The prize for the award was money. A couple of young teenagers were looking for some money to get together and have a big dinner. They persuaded their friend to join the contest. She won and the rest, as they say, is history...
After winning the contest, Nnadia didn't give much thought to it. When TVB called and offered a full-time job as a youth ambassador, she declined. She was, after all, still a student in high school. It wasn't until Crown Records gave her a call and said they were willing to fit recording work around her school schedule that Nnadia decided to enter the entertainment business. But even then, education was most important. Half-working and half-studying, Nnadia recorded one album, Curfew, and took
part in a movie, Porky's Meatballs, which she also sang the soundtrack for. She also accepted a role in a TVB telemovie, The Last Conflict.
This brief stint in the entertainment business proved to be too much pressure on young Nnadia and so she took a little break. But as fate would have it, she soon returned in front of the camera. While sick in the hospital, Crown Records' Mrs. Lau introduced her to Siu Seng, a producer from TVB. He took one look at Nnadia's bed-ridden, suffering, hospitalized face and he knew that she would be perfect for his new series.
That series was Songbird, a part-biographical, part-fictional account of Chow Shuen, a poor girl who would go on to become a famous movie star, but would eventually suffer from an emotional breakdown and succumb to psychological problems. As the Shanghai starlet from the 1930s, Nnadia captivated audiences with her emotional performance and real tears. The soundtrack for the series, sung by Nnadia herself, dominated the IFPI charts and achieved 4 platinums.
Chan Chung Ling became a household name. Rarely do we see an actor who is able to secure herself a starring role in the beginning of her career and receive critical acclaim and recognition. Nnadia did just that, and it is because of that accomplishment that she has always been regarded as a ratings-guarantee for TVB.
For the next few years, Nnadia would work non-stop for TVB and at the same time continue her studies in school. In Brother, Cry for Me, Nnadia played Lam Yan Yan, who was hopelessly infatuated with Frankie Lam Mun Lung but would eventually fall in love with Liu Wai Hung. Next up for Nnadia was The Zu Mountain Saga II. In Zu, Nnadia played Yu Ying Lam, a disciple of the Ngor Mei Sect who would unwittingly fall in love with the devil she had a duty to destroy. This series starred Ekin
Cheng and was the beginning of an on screen romance that would last years and 8 collaborations.
Following up on the success of Songbird, TVB came out with Beside the Seaside, Beside the Sea, also starring Ekin Cheng. Though the two series had different plotlines, the character that Nnadia played was very much similar - a Shanghai starlet from the 1930s. (Songbird's Chow Shuen was based on a real person while Seaside's Wong Chor Sei was not.) Seaside was another big ratings hit and the soundtrack was even more successful, achieving 6 platinums.
In 1992, Nnadia made The Mark of Triumph, a story of how an ugly duckling became a beautiful swan. Nnadia was Lee Oy, a girl born with a huge birthmark on her face. Once again, Nnadia's on screen partner was Ekin.
While Nnadia continued taking up role after role in TVB series, she sang children song after children song. She became a frequent guest on children shows and even sang the theme song for TVB's popular Lightning Machine. She became known as Chung Chung Jie Jie (jie jie = older sister) to many, and was the youth ambassador for TVB's annual children celebration in 1992 and 1993.
In 1993, Nnadia starred in The Spirit of Love. Targeting Nnadia's many children fans, The Spirit of Love was about Tung Tung (Nnadia), a spirit whose duty was to guard over a hotel. Through her interaction with the hotel's staff, she would learn human emotions.
Early 1994, Nnadia made Fate of the Last Empire, an ancient costume series. She played Lin Fa Kei, well taught in the art of geomancy (essentially feng shui). Then the summer of 1994, Nnadia was na´ve Lin Chi Mei in Knot to Treasure. Once again partnering up with Ekin, the two became known as hok seng ching lui (student lovers - meaning couple appealing to the youth).
With her angelic face and innocent qualities, Nnadia won the heart of Hong Kong. As her fame reached a high pinnacle, she realized that perhaps it was time to grow up...
The end of 1994 saw an important change in Nnadia's career and public image. The innocent little girl was no more. Her make-up and choice in clothing gave her the aura of a young woman. Her roles changed as well. She took a big break from light-hearted comedies and girl roles and headlined three long dramas (coincidentally, they all starred Adam Cheng Siu Chow as well) and one short drama as the female lead.
It was Instincts that gave the Hong Kong audience the first look at Nnadia's maturity. Unlike all her previous roles, Lam Jing Lit was a complex character full of insecurities and fears, who through Bao Mun Lung (Ekin Cheng), learned to let go of herself and live life happily. It is Instincts that Nnadia herself admitted to a change in the way she approached her acting roles. She learned that acting was not just about "imitating" and that she could "give life to the character if you put her
heart into it." Instincts was a big blockbuster for TVB when it was broadcast and also marked the end of Nnadia and Ekin's onscreen romance.
Nnadia's popularity in 1994 was apparent. She starred in three TVB series and in Next Media Magazine's annual television award ceremony, she was voted as one of Hong Kong's top 10 television actors/actresses. TVB recognized her popularity and promoted her status. Instead of acting in the series she was assigned to do, she now had the privilege to choose and decline what series she would take part in.
In 1995, Nnadia changed her name from to . The pronounciation was still the same - ling - but a different character was used. The ling in her original name means "age," and the ling in her new name is part of a phrase that means "intelligent and witty".
Nnadia made To Love with Love, a 20-episode drama. She played Chu Yan Ping, a young woman from the rural part of Hong Kong who would fall in love with her childhood friend.
1996 became a rather monumental year for Nnadia, even if she did not intend it to be that way. She signed on Florence Chan Sook Fun, one-time manager of superstars Anita Mui Yim Fong and Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing, as her manager. And her popularity reached an even higher pinnacle as she starred in two of TVB's biggest productions (for that year, anyway).
For three months (65 episodes), the audiences followed the love lives of the cast of Cold Blood Warm Heart, that year's second highest rated series. As Fong Hau Yung, Nnadia became involved in one of the serial's most agonizing love triangles, vying for Law Chi Kin's (Julian Cheung Chi Lam) love against Cheung Shuet Ying (Jessica Hester Hsuan). Even today, half a decade since CBWH, fans of the series still have debates on who Chi Kin loved more - Yung Yung or Shuet?
The next series for Nnadia was Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. A remake of the 1980s classic The Bund, the love story between Hui Mun Keung and Fung Ching Ching was legendary. As Ching Ching, Nnadia did not merely copy her predecessor, Chiu Nga Gi. Rather, she brought her own inspirations and essence to the character. Though OUATIS did not achieve stellar ratings as TVB had hoped, it successfully reaffirmed Nnadia as one of TVB's top fa dahns (starlet).
Nnadia's status in TVB became even more evident during TVB's 29th Anniversary Show (also in 1996). It has long been said that the placing of the various artists on stage during TVB's anniversary shows indicate their importance to TVB. That is, the closer you were to the center, the more important you were. (This is not a fact, but an opinion of the Hong Kong media.) That night, as the female artists piled out on stage in a short dance number, Nnadia was placed smack in the middle - a glittering gem
During what may have been the height of Nnadia's career in TVB, change was about to happen again...
In 1997, Nnadia's public image and career, once again, went through another change. Liberating herself, she became a freelance artist and chopped her hair short. She morphed into a vibrant and energetic woman.
Early 1997, Nnadia returned to the light comedy genre and starred in TVB's A Place of One's Own, a script that was written especially for her. Starring opposite Lawrence Ng Kai Wah (who at that time was still trying to climb back into fame after a string of X-rated movies), she played Sek Hoi Sum, an optimistic if rather simple-minded woman from rural Dai O.
As the shooting of A Place of One's Own came to an end, Nnadia became up for grabs. She had no contract on her. While performing as a guest in musical composer Goo Ka Fai's concert, both ATV and TVB sent representatives to - what else? - negotiate contract terms. Nnadia, however, declined both offers. For the next few years, she would be spending less time in Hong Kong and concentrate on foreign markets, namely Singapore.
Towards the end of 1997, Nnadia's extensive experience in singing and acting led her to be chosen to play the female lead in the musical Snow Wolf Lake during its run in Singapore. Starring opposite superstar Jackie Cheung Hok Yau, many saw this as Nnadia's opportunity to elevate herself to "diva" status. But alas, she was replacing Sandy Lam Yik Lin in the role of Ling Jing Shuet. Much of Hong Kong media underestimated Nnadia's ability and felt that she would not be able to live up to her
predecessor's talent. Even more uproar was generated when Jackie supposedly said that he felt Nnadia would not do a good job (That's only a rumor - not fact!).
Despite all this pressure, Nnadia did not let it get to her. With admirable courage and dedication, she rehearsed endlessly for a month. Finally during the week of performance, she got up on stage and gave the audience an experience to remember. She was sensational and afterwards, the Singapore audiences and media could not stop raving about her performance. Jackie, later, complimented on Nnadia's performance, especially her acting skills.
With the success of Snow Wolf Lake, coupled with the airing of two of her old TVB series, Knot to Treasure and Instincts, in Singapore, Nnadia successfully broke into this foreign market. In Singapore's Friday Weekly's annual "Students' Idols Poll", she was voted as Best Actress and Most Popular Actress. It was the first time for a non-Singaporean artist. Even superstar Aaron Kwok Fu Sing had only reached third place.
Early 1998, nearly a year and a half after Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, A Place of One's Own was broadcast. It would be another year before she would be seen on Hong Kong television sets again.
Soon after, Nnadia cut her already short hair even shorter. With a spiked tomboy look, Nnadia came out with her first Mandarin album, Girls of Our Age. Traveling in Taiwan and Singapore to promote the album, Nnadia saw success in her music career. Her song, Ferris Wheel, was #1 on Singapore radio station 100.3FM's radio chart for 1998. She also was a top ten finalist for Singapore 933FM Radio Hit Awards's Most Popular Female Singer.
Nnadia's next project was Star Moon Sun. Not a TVB series, Star Moon Sun is the famous story of three women's friendship and their love for the same man during wartime China. A huge collaboration between several production companies, it was decided that an actress from Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan would play the three female leads. As the Hong Kong "representative," Nnadia had the role of Sun, the most famous out of all three of the female characters.
As 1998 came to an end, Nnadia saw herself returning to Hong Kong once again...
As her short hair grew longer, Nnadia went through yet another metamorphosis. She officially changed her name from Nadia to Nnadia. The added "n" was a self reminder to "never give up." It also symbolized "new."
Along with her name, her image changed as well. With curly cascading hair and more skin-revealing clothes, her new image gave off strong vibes of sensual femininity. Most, especially Hong Kong, were blown away by this new Nnadia. They were not used to seeing her as a sexy bombshell but as an innocent child. Rejecting her new image, many thought that she was using her sexuality to draw attention to herself. But Nnadia didn't let these unwelcome news get to her. She followed her heart because she felt
that she was only doing what was appropriate for her age. Time passed and soon those headlines died down, confirming what those who had supported her knew all along - Nnadia was more beautiful than ever.
End of 1998, Nnadia starred in Happy Ever After. She was Ling Yee, the Emperor's beloved concubine whose final fate was brought about by jealousy between the Emperor's wives. And she was Ngok Sum Yu, the gentle daughter of a high-ranking war general who ultimately won the heart of the Emperor. Not only did she deliver taking on the hard task of playing two roles, she also gave her first on screen kiss ever to Kwong Wah.
As shooting of Happy Ever After wrapped up, TVB offered Nnadia another role. This time, it was an ancient costume serial based on Gum Yung's classic novel Sword Stained with Royal Blood. Titled Crimson Sabre, she would be acting opposite Gordon Lam Ka Tung and Kwong Wah. But Nnadia's interests were somewhere else - Singapore.
Up until now, Nnadia's popularity in Singapore had been climbing steadily and she emerged as the Most Popular Actress in Friday Weekly's annual poll again. Two years in a row - she was certainly on a roll there. Capitalizing on her obvious popularity with Singapore viewers, Singapore television station TCS offered Nnadia a role in their big production Coup de Scorpio. Accepting their offer and declining TVB's Crimson Sabre, Nnadia flew to Singapore.
Early 1999, Happy Ever After was shown on TV. It was highly successful, drawing in ratings that broke the record for the 7:30 timeslot. As the cast and crew held a press conference/dinner celebrating the success of Happy Ever After, Nnadia was nowhere to be seen. She was in Singapore filming Coup de Scorpio.
The first time TCS would be using a non-Singaporean actress, Nnadia had the privilege to star opposite Li Nanxing and Christopher Lee, TCS's most popular actors. In Scorpio, she played Yip Lum, a jewel expert with a hard-to-understand personality who was target of three men's love and affection.
When she returned to Hong Kong after months of being away, Nnadia took up a role in a movie, Troublesome Nights 7, opposite Louis Koo Tin Lok. As Ying, a ghost who was desperate to see her lover, she gave her first movie screen kiss to Louis.
As shooting wrapped up, good news from Singapore came. Though Scorpio did not have excellent ratings when it was broadcast, it was enough to propel Nnadia to another year of being voted Most Popular Actress by Friday Weekly.
Moving into 2000, Nnadia spent much of her time shooting TVB series The Legendary Four Aces. She played Chu Ping Ting, a rebellious princess who fell in love with a poor scholar, Gordon Lam Ka Tung.
When shooting of Legendary Four Aces finished, Nnadia took up two movies. In The Enemy, she played Wong Hei Yung, a blind DJ who would give Chan Hung Jun (Sunny Chan Kum Hung) a lesson on how to live and let go. Just like their first collaboration, this one generated some buzz when during a scene, Nnadia's hand accidentally brushed up against Sunny's more private body area. In the summer of 2000, Nnadia flew to Toronto where she took part in Life is a Miracle II. As Tracy, a social
worker with cancer, she had to look the part. Many scenes required makeup that gave her chapped lips and pale skin. The character, essentially, was dying. Amidst all this work, Nnadia found herself in rumors galore.
The newspapers kept linking Nnadia romantically to different men. First it was Jason Tsang, producer of Nnadia's Show8.com radio program. Then there was Chow Kwok Fung, a Hong Kong DJ. Rumors with Chow Kwok Fung got to a point where even his colleagues kept calling Nnadia ah so (sister-in-law). But last was Dasmond Koh, a Singaporean DJ. Out of all these rumors, Nnadia finally admitted to dating Dasmond.
As fall drew near, Legendary Four Aces was broadcast on TVB. It was a hit - drawing in ratings well beyond 30 points!
At TVB's 33rd Anniversary Show in November 2000, Nnadia stepped up on stage with Gallen Lo - it was her first time on the anniversary show in 4 years. She was back working for TVB...
SophisticationWritten by Vonny - Edited by Phuong
As a new year approached, so did a new Nnadia. With long shiny layers and chic clothing, she was the model of sophistication. She was timeless.
Towards the end of 2000, Nnadia took up a TVB series, In the Realm of Success. Starring opposite Steven Ma Jun Wai, she was Chong Mei Kei, a graceless scatterbrained office lady. Completed for half a year now, TVB still has not broadcasted the light comedy.
Soon it was time for Friday Weekly's annual poll again. No one thought it was possible, but it happened. For the fourth time in a row, Nnadia was voted as Most Popular Actress. It was a stellar record!
After shooting In the Realm of Success, news broke out that Nnadia and Dasmond Koh had broken up. Being levelheaded, she put it behind her and traveled to New York where she took a music course to refine herself.
In May 2001, Life is a Miracle II debuted at theaters. Even though the movie had a lower profile than most and was playing during the movie industry's off season, LIAM II was a huge success at the box office. When it first began playing, only 6 theaters was showing the movie. By the next week, 14 theaters had added it to their schedule. For the next 7 weeks it would be playing, LIAM II would stay in the top spots in the movie charts and would draw in over HK $5 million. Viewers and
critics raved about Nnadia's performance. Her portrayal of a dying woman left almost everyone in the audiences reaching for tissue boxes.
As summer 2001 approached, Nnadia took up another movie, Summer Assassins. As the title suggests, Nnadia will be playing an assassin. It would be something new for her because she would have action scenes. But even newer - she will be wearing a bikini for the first time on screen.
After so many turns in the road, Nnadia has found a niche that she is comfortable in. At least for now...