Linda Chung Struggled With Social Anxiety For Years
Entering the showbiz industry was something that TVB starlet, Linda Chung (鍾嘉欣), never had in mind. The Canadian-born 28-year-old actress lived in Maple Ridge, Vancouver her entire life. She had loving parents, an older sister and brother who extremely cared for her, and a first love who had actively pursued her since they first met in middle school. She grew up in a safe neighborhood, did well in school, and was living a happy and perfect life.
Her fate changed when Linda came across an ad at a shopping mall. It was an ad for a low-scale beauty pageant hosted by Crystal Covergirl magazine.
“I was much prettier when I was younger,” said Linda. “Whenever my friends and relatives come over to visit us, they would always say, ‘You’re a very pretty girl.’ Even my sister said that I should be a celebrity. She was the one who encouraged me to audition for the pageant. Since it was a really small pageant, I decided to try it out. I was really bad. When the judges asked me questions, I just stood there on stage staring blankly at them for ten seconds. I never thought I would win.”
After winning the pageant, the organizers wanted to nominate Linda for the Miss Chinese Vancouver Pageant, an annual beauty pageant hosted by Canada’s Fairchild TV that selects the Vancouver representatives to take part in TVB’s annual Miss Chinese International Pageant. Linda rejected their offer. A year later, the organizers called Linda again about the nomination, and Linda finally agreed.
“They were sincere about it, and I don’t have the heart to reject them again. So I said yes. I really did not expect myself to win again. I originally did not want to go to Hong Kong for the Miss Chinese International Pageant, but I ended up signing the contract, so I could not say no.”
The thought of facing the paparazzi and competing with international beauties scared Linda. She thought she would have no chance of winning, and she held onto that belief when she joined the pageant. “There are no paparazzi in Vancouver. All I had to compete in was through my performance. But in Hong Kong, you can only win if you are popular. The paparazzi weren’t very interested in me, so I thought I would lose. At the day before the finals, when all of the contestants had to meet with the judges, one of the judges, Kelly Chen (陳慧琳), said ‘I think number 12, Linda Chung, has a very sweet smile.’ The next day, I immediately became a popular candidate, and I eventually won. This is why I love Kelly. I really want to personally say thank you to her.”
When Linda did meet with Kelly a few years later, Linda did not have the courage to face her directly. Although Linda sat next to Kelly at the event, she could not muster enough courage to say a simple “thank you.”
Linda: “Bernice Liu is My Idol”
“After winning, I expected to sign with TVB. The Miss Chinese International winner in 2001, Bernice Liu (廖碧兒), is my idol, and I really wanted to be like her, having a chance to film a drama right after winning!”
After a month of waiting without a call from TVB, Linda was beginning to think that maybe her qualities were not suitable for TVB’s tastes.
“I’ve remained in contact with the other MCI contestants. I know TVB gave some of them calls, but not me. I admit – I was very disappointed with myself. A few months later, I finally got a call from TVB. They said they wanted to sign me to replace Bernice Liu’s role in Virtues of Harmony 2 <皆大歡喜>. I said yes immediately!”
Linda always knew she had social anxiety, but joining TVB just made matters worse. She was beginning to doubt whether or not she had made the right choice in joining the industry.
“My Chinese was awful. I did not know how to read the script, and I had terrible acting. Every time before the camera rolls, Louis Yuen (阮兆祥) [costar in Virtues of Harmony 2] would spend time teaching me how to read the script and tell me the positions I have to stand when I’m in the scene. I had a really bad ‘chicken’ voice, and I felt really ugly every time I see the reruns of the sitcom. When I lived in Canada, I didn’t need to raise my voice. I never knew my voice could get that high.”
Dislikes Being the Center of Attention
When Linda joined in the industry, TVB was going through a period of “fadan famine.” Only herself, Vivien Yeo (楊秀惠), and Mandy Cho (曹敏莉) were the newcomers that year. Out of the three, Linda had the most affinity with the audience; as a result, TVB quickly promoted her to a leading actress. In the Anniversary gala performances every year, Linda always stood in the first line with the rest of TVB’s popular leading stars.
“I always thought I didn’t deserve to stand in the front. I don’t think I have enough qualifications, and it makes me feel very uncomfortable!”
Interviews were something Linda always tried to avoid. “I am a very boring person,” said Linda. “I really have nothing to talk about!”
When Linda accepted an interview with fengshui master, Mak Ling Ling (麥玲玲), a few years ago, Linda would always respond either a “Yes” or a “No” to Mak’s questions, regardless of the question’s length.
“It’s not the master’s fault, but I was just stupid. Whenever I have to answer a question, I would get really scared. In my super anxious state, my brain would stop working. I could only reply up to two words.”
But the Linda Chung today is no longer that young, naïve girl who only knew how to say yes or no. She can now respond in fluid, complete sentences, and answer questions without the help of anyone.
“In the past, I was scared that people would call me stupid and dumb, so I would just not talk. Now, I’m slowly learning the ways to build my wall to protect myself.”
Linda never enjoyed life in the showbiz industry, especially during the time of TVB’s Anniversary awards. Whether or not she would win an award, Linda would go through nervous breakdowns.
It was not until this year when Linda realized that maybe being dumb is not so bad after all. “As long as that everything is coming from my heart, I’m sure everyone will be able to accept me!”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.
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