Sylvia Chang

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Sylvia Chang
Chinese name 張艾嘉 (traditional)
Chinese name 张艾嘉 (simplified)
Pinyin Zhāng1 Ài4 jiā1 (Mandarin)
Jyutping Cheung Ngaai Ga (Cantonese)
Birth name Ai-chia Sylvia Chang
Ancestry Wutai, Shanxi
Origin Taiwan
Born (1953-07-21) 21 July 1953 (age 61)
Chiayi, Taiwan
Other name(s) Sylvia Cheung Ai Ga
Chang Ai-Cha
Occupation Actress, writer, director, singer
Genre(s) Mandopop
Label(s) Rock Records
Years active 1981-present
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Chang.

Sylvia Chang (born Ai-chia Sylvia Chang 21 July 1953 in Chiayi, Taiwan) is a Taiwanese actress, writer, singer, producer and director. In 1992, she was a member of the jury at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sylvia Chang was born in Chiayi, Taiwan and went off to school, until she was 16, where upon she dropped out and started her career as a radio DJ.[2] Soon she made the move into television when she was only 17. When she was 18 years old she starred in her first film.[3] Forty years later, Sylvia Chang is one of Hong Kong’s greatest, and probably most diversified, female artist. Throughout her career in the film industry, which includes writing, directing, and producing, she is also a singer, a stage actress, and an advocate for World Vision International as well as a mother and wife.

Career[edit]

Sylvia Chang’s career has spanned over many decades.[4] She has been an actress, starting in the 70s when she was only 16, moving up to writing, directing and producing.[4] Many of the films she has directed try to defy the normal gender roles. Even herself as a well known female, Taiwanese, director has helped defy normal gender roles in the film industry. She stated in an interview with film editor, Clarence Tsui, that “I still think Hong Kong’s film industry is male-dominated".[5] However, she is trying her best to break through that dominance. She also believes that “There aren’t many male filmmakers who would write scripts for women”.[5] But, she proved that one gender can write for the other with her film “Run Papa Run" (Chang 2008).[6] She helped write the script, based on the novel by Benny Li Shuan Yan,[7] that follows a man who belongs to the Triad and the relationship he has with his mother, wife and daughter.[4] Chang said in an interview that, “I thought why don’t I explore the gentler side of men”. She explored not only how men try to prove their masculinity by being in gangs, but also how they too, can have gentler sides.

Chang is known for trying out different types of roles: “From an innocent girl to a street walker, from a rude police officer to a respected teacher, from an alcoholic to a great mother. And through it all, she's never lost her zest for life”.[8] She’s not only versatile in her career choices, but as well in her acting career. From her first film when she was only 18, “The Tattooed Dragon” (Wei Lo 1973), to one of her most recent “20 30 40” which she not only starred as the 40 year old woman, but also wrote and directed the film as well.[6] Chang also attempted to do her own stunts in the four part series “Aces Go Places".[9]

Chang’s acting talents have also extended to the stage. She first began performing in theatre productions more than 30 years ago, but then took a break to pursue other career options and has recently made her return in a production called “Design For Living"[10] The play premiered in November 2008 and went on into 2009.[11] A play that tells of an older female boss and the developing feelings between her and her younger employee.[11] In regards to her long absence from performing on stage, Chang stated in an interview that, “The reason for me to take on stage play again after 20 years is because I was lured by the director, he has invited handsome guys like Zheng Yuan Chang and David Huang into the play”.[11]

In between acting, Chang is also a proficient singer. With many popular songs, her music has also become hits for Karaoke.[2] In particular her song “The Cost of Love” is most commonly sung.[2] She is also known for her song Childhood.

In her mid thirties, with a successful acting and singing career on her belt, Chang decided to venture out into a new profession. “I had never went to any school as a director or a filmmaker, so all my film education actually was from the set".[12] With her acting experience at her side, Chang took a chance at directing. In 1986, only her second film to direct, “Passion” which she also starred in and wrote, won her the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress.[2]

Between, now, acting, directing, and singing, she also began a television channel called Go Go TV in 1996.[13] At one point she was even the head producer of New Cinema City in Taiwan, but discovered she was not happy there and left a few years after joining.[12] She also began to write and produce, her own work, as well as others. Her most recent work being writing the screenplay, based on Benny Li Shuan Yan’s book, “Run Papa Run” (Chang 2008), as well as directing the film.[7]

Legacy[edit]

While her acting career ranges over multiple character types, the films she directs tend to have a more contemporary theme.[5] They usually follow the intricate lives of a few characters and explore their relationships with each other. While most of her films are considered dramas, she has dabbled in comedies. What makes her films even more unique is the animation and special effects she puts in them. Chang once said of her films that, “I’ve always felt that animation or special effects shouldn’t just be limited to science-fiction films and their ilk. Dramas can also play around with them”.[4]

Chang has left her mark on the Hong Kong film industry, paving the way for female filmmakers. She has opened the doors to more women in the film industry not only as an actress, but as a writer, producer, and director. One critic wrote of her, that “In an industry that kisses young actresses with celebrity, then swallows them and spits them out, Chang has a sequoia's longevity. She is the only Hong Kong actress of her generation--the early '70s--to keep starring in movies”.[3]

Not only has she received the Hong Kong award for best actress, but her films have even been accepted into both the London and Toronto International film Festivals.[13] She has even been honored to serve on the jury for the Berlin Film Festival.[13] She also holds the record for the most nominations for Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress, with nine nominations and 2 wins.

Personal life[edit]

Beyond her career in the film industry, Chang is an advocate for World Vision International. An organization that helps fight poverty and starvation over the world. Chang has personally created an advertisement, sponsored by World Vision, to promote the company, World Vision Advertisement. She is also a member and advocate for “30 Hour Famine”, an event World Visions sponsors. She first started almost 20 years ago to help raise awareness about malnutrition in third world countries. She has also visited Africa as well as Ethiopia in 1993. In the recent years she has used 30 hour famine to raise awareness of the effects Typhoon Morakot has done to Tawain and the poverty and famine it has created. She also personally sponsors a child in Mongolia, who she has helped to feed and take care of.[14] She is also a World Vision Life-Long Volunteer, who strives to bring awareness to the poverty and famine around the world.[14] She discussed her desire to be a part of this program as, “there are so many good things in the world, and so many horrible things, but all these things are for all of us to take responsibility for".[15]

Sylvia Chang’s family life includes her husband, businessman Wang Ching Hung and her sons.[16] While her family life is usually not made to be very public, there was an incident in 2000 that brought her family life to the surface.

In July 2000, Sylvia Chang’s nine year old son Oscar was kidnapped and held for a ransom of HK $ 15 million.[16] However, the police found him after a few days, safe, and arrested the kidnappers.[17] While Oscar was safe and not injured, it was still a shock to Sylvia and her husband “With your life, you have to move on, there's no other choice, so out of no choice then it's a matter of your attitude".[12]

Filmography[edit]

Actress[edit]

Director[edit]

Writer[edit]

[18] [19]

Discography[edit]

Kolin Records (歌林發行)
  • 1973 Never Say Goodbye 別說再見
  • 1974 Tearfully Say to You 含淚向你說
  • 1977 Farewell (惜別)
  • 1980 Maybe / We Were Young (也许 / 我們曾經年輕)
Rock Records
  • 1981 Childhood (童年)
  • 1985 Busy and Blind (忙與盲)
  • 1986 Do You Love Me? (你愛我嗎)
  • 1987 Xi shuo (細說), lit. "clarify" or "elaborate"
  • 1992 The Price of Love (愛的代價)

References[edit]

External links[edit]