Daley wanted single eyelids

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Daley wanted single eyelids
Teresa Daley (left) and Russell Wong in Grace, a HBO series.

While scores of young women go under the knife to get double eyelids, Taiwanese actress Teresa Daley once wished that her eyelids could look "as single as possible".

The 25-year-old, whose father is Caucasian American and mother Taiwanese Chinese, tells Life! that she felt it would make her "look more Chinese" and help her career.

"I'd ask my make-up artist to make me look like I have single eyelids because there aren't many roles for mixed-blood stars in Taiwan," she says in Mandarin on the telephone from her home in Taipei.

Debunking the myth that it is easy for pan-Asian stars to get a leg up in Taiwanese show business due to their looks, she says she often felt limited by her mixed heritage.

"If a script had a role for a mixed-blood star, it would have to explain why there was a need for such a person to be in the story.

"I wanted to act so badly but because I am pan-Asian, I felt I was limited in role options. I was a little upset by it then but I've come to accept my looks. Since I'm born this way, I might as well embrace it."

She might have worried needlessly. She is now one of the fastest rising Taiwanese actresses.

Earlier this year, she made her Hollywood debut in blockbuster Transformers: Age Of Extinction as a Chinese guard, snagging the role after auditioning against more than 70,000 hopefuls.

Although it was a small role, it gave her plenty of exposure in the Taiwanese media.

Tonight, she will be seen in the new HBO Asia horror mini-series Grace, in which she plays the youngest daughter in a family harbouring dark secrets.

Being the only Taiwanese actress in the cast, which includes Singapore's Constance Song and Lim Kay Tong, and American actor Russell Wong, she feels "very proud" of her achievements thus far.

"I've been really lucky recently but I've been working hard too. I've attended so many auditions over the years. I think I've always had a fearless attitude about them," says Daley, who was spotted by a talent scout on the streets and made her TV debut in 2006's Dangerous Mind (Wei Xian Xin Ling).

"I'm lucky to get these great overseas opportunities, but I'm also proud of myself for getting here."

To date, she has starred in popular Taiwanese idol TV dramas including Hi My Sweetheart (2009) and Sweet Relationship (2007), and the movie Snowfall In Taipei (2012).

She earned a Golden Bell Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2011 for her portrayal of a student with a troubled past in TV drama Days We Stared At The Sun (2010).

When she was working on Grace, she says, she would rush to give Russell Wong a big hug whenever she spotted him on set, in order to get into character as his daughter.

She says with a laugh: "I would hug him and go, 'Hi, daddy'. He was quite taken aback at first. Then he realised, 'Oh you're doing homework for your role', so he got used to it after a while.

"I kept doing that throughout the three weeks of filming. It was pretty funny."

She adds that she did not feel any pressure working with the veteran cast. "Everyone was so professional and nice. I enjoyed watching them work and, hopefully, I learnt a thing or two about acting from them."

What made her nervous was tackling the mainly English- language script, she says. Despite being half-American, she grew up speaking Mandarin at home and attended public schools in Taiwan.

"I speak only a bit of English with my dad, but he's been in Taiwan so long that he speaks English very slowly," she says with a chuckle.

"However, filming in English turned out to be all right once you immersed yourself in the English- language environment. Performing in English was different though - the language is more direct than Chinese, so that was interesting."

The four-part HBO Asia mini-series was filmed mostly in Singapore from March to April on sound stages in Infinite Studios and locations like Alkaff Mansion and Lei Yin Temple in Bukit Timah.

During her time here, she visited the usual tourist spots, including the casino at Marina Bay Sands. She also ate a lot, she says, gaining 2kg in the process.

She says: "Grace is a horror series, so there was a lot of screaming involved for my character. It was nice to go out and eat good food and relax a little."

She adds that she hopes to travel often for more acting opportunities: "I've been acting in Taiwan for nine years, so I can't wait to see what else there is on offer beyond it."

yipwy@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 17, 2014.
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