Adia Chan Lost Her Direction in Life for 20 Years

Starting her entertainment career at the tender age of 14, Adia Chan (陳松伶) left a deep impression among television fans with her beautiful voice. Although she found success early in her career, Adia’s youth was plagued by loneliness and unhappiness and it took her 20 years to find direction in life.

Early Success

Known as Nnadia at the time, she took part in a Sally Yeh (葉蒨文) impersonation contest in 1985 and her singing career was launched. In 1989, Adia landed the role of Zhou Xuan in TVB drama, Song Bird <天涯歌女> which propelled her to instant stardom. The clinching the role of Zhou Xuan had been accidental. Adia said, “At the time when [producer] Siu Sang (蕭笙) was looking for a leading lady, I was hospitalized from a home accident. Because the record company recommended me, Uncle Siu Sang paid me a visit. Seeing that I looked so delicate and charming lying in bed, he offered me the role.”

Despite not knowing the culture and background of China in the 1930s because of her Indonesian heritage, the young Adia portrayed Zhou Xuan successfully. The role also propelled her singing career to greater heights when she released the Song Bird soundtrack album, which has gone platinum 6 times, beating even Alan Tam’s (譚詠麟) Dream Stage <夢幻舞台> at that time. Adia was only 17 years old then.

Lost Youth

Adia’s success did not bring happiness, and she felt empty and lonely. “I was like a machine, working 24 hours every day. Two years ago, I watched the movie You Are the Apple of My Eye <那些年,我们一起追的女孩>, and I have no feelings about it because I did not go through that part of my life,” Adia lamented about her missing youth.

Life became an endless juggle between school and acting. Though she had enjoyed her entertainment career, Adia was already tired by the time she reached university. Adia also had to deal with the pressures of work, such as kissing scenes which she rejected as they made her uncomfortable. Adia’s school principal, who sensed her unhappiness, told her to quit school to concentrate on her acting job.

Following her principal’s advice, Adia threw herself into her acting, scoring leading roles in many television serials including Instinct < 笑看風雲> and Cold Blood Warm Heart <天地男兒>. Despite the success, Adia was at a loss when it came to managing her daily life.

Adia said, “So what if I was the leading lady? When it came to my everyday life, I was a handicap. I did not know how to pay the bills. I had no idea how to apply for credit cards. I didn’t even know how to ride the MTR! So, no, I did not feel proud to be a leading lady.”

Everything had been arranged by Adia’s manager at the time. Eventually, Adia’s popularity in the industry dropped. Adia had expected it, “Right from the beginning, I had been lucky. I had never really put in effort into my acting. Without effort, naturally my work would deteriorate.”


The setbacks that life threw her in 2005 finally caused Adia to drop everything.  The press had been relentless, reporting rumors that Adia was lesbian. After a rift with her manager, Adia was left alone and at a loss.

In addition, Adia had a recurring ovarian tumor which needed to be removed and following that, her father passed away. Adia said, “From 1985 to 2005, it has been 20 long and tiring years. I felt so lost and insecure about my life ahead. I just wanted to leave Hong Kong.”

Ultimately, Adia settled down in China. Living in recluse, Adia gave away her branded bags to live life simply. She let her hair grow, and did not put on any makeup. For the first time in years, Adia was able to live an ordinary life. Adia recalled, “I looked in the mirror one day and I realized my hair has grown so long. It was then that I realized I do not care about my image anymore. And it’s also then that I find I have begun to grow as a person.”

Finding Love

In 2007, Adia met her husband, Zhang Ze (張鐸) while filming Blood Isn’t Cold <血未冷>. A graduate from the Shanghai Theatre Academy, Zhang Ze had impressed Adia with his knowledge about the television industry as well as his worldly confidence. Perhaps it had been fate that the two connected instantly.

When she realized that the man she was falling in love with was 8 years her junior, Adia’s insecurity almost caused the couple to split up. “Looking at how mature and independent he was, I never expected him to be so much younger. When I told him that I wanted to consider our relationship, he had said, ‘If I’m not afraid, what are you afraid of?’”

Adia was not pressured by the subsequent bad press, in which she was called an “old cow who eats tender grass”. Adia said, “When you find a good life partner, age is of no concern. When that is the case, you won’t mind what others say.”

Married in 2010, Adia is happy to play the role of a supporting wife to Zhang Ze. Residing blissfully in Beijing with her husband now, Adia would follow Zhang Ze whenever he goes overseas for work, to make sure that his daily necessities are well taken care of. When Adia is not by his side, Zhang Ze will sometimes flying back every day just to be with her. When Adia was in Hong Kong last year to promote her album, the couple used Face Time to talk to each other every night.

Even without her husband by her side, Adia can find comfort in the company of her parents-in-law. Her in-laws had misgivings initially about her, but Adia’s sincerity and their love for their only son finally touched them to accept and love their daughter-in-law wholeheartedly.

Forty-two-year-old Adia Chan finally found meaning and happiness by pursuing the life she wanted to live. Filled with love and hope, Adia lives simply and does not need material goods to make her happy. Having found herself, Adia is ready to go back to acting and singing, but her family will always come first.

Relive Adia Chan’s Classic Song, “Dreams Come True”

[vsw id=”3JcjGLMbT0A” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”404″ autoplay=”no”]

Source: Sudden Weekly #920 via

This article is written by Karen for

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  1. One of my favorite actresses in 90’s. She always gave me the impression that she was down to earth and not really into entertainment industry. Happy she found her other half 🙂

  2. I loved Song Bird. That drama was awesome with fantastic music!!

  3. Doesn’t she go up Nnadia Chan now?

    I was thrown over the loop to figure out who Adia Chan was.

    1. Wasn’t it Nadia–>Nnadia–>Adia? She even changed the 伶 in her Chinese name, didn’t she? Gosh, all the paperwork…

      1. exactly, I know right? hahha LOL…
        It’s like she’s changing to a new name every 10 years or so? But when it was changed to a double N back then, i heard it was to better her luck or something then even changed the writing version of her name too..OMG, all that name changing sounds more like older generations will do for superstitious purposes or whatever.
        I also read it somewhere a while ago that husband was at least 10+ younger? Now, it’s 10? Ok, whatever…I never watch much of her series but i do hear it from my parents that she was popular back then and a great singer.

      2. Yeah, she was Nadia first and has been Nadia for a long time before changing to Nnadia which stands for ‘new Nadia’.

        Anyone know why she changed to Adia now?

      3. It was reported she did not want to reveal the reason for the change to Adia.

      4. It’s not like it matters why she changed it… It is great that she is happy now.

      5. I think it was on a utube clip from the mainland that the husband is 12 years YOUNGER not 8..

  4. for some reason….Mandy Wong w/short hair in Divas reminded me of Nnadia/Adia. Brought back some old memories…. Loved Nnadia/Adia in the day…great to see that she has found happiness in life and work now. 🙂

    1. I think so too ahhaha…but I think i will pick Mandy Wong over this one thou.

    2. i think so too. Thought i was the only person who has that impression. haha

      1. No, If I had to pick i would’ve picked Mandy Wong over this one as well.

  5. Either she’s really stupid or she’s really sheltered. I knew how to ride the mtr when I was 7 years old, how to pay bills when I was 14 and applied my own credit card when I was 18.

    Still find her to be one of the most overrated actresses she’s so stiff with her acting.

    1. couldn’t agree w/u more. i think she is stupidly sheltered but showbiz pppl did say she was smart or could have gone to HK university and finished it or whatever but chose to continue acting instead.
      the only series i think i watched a bit here and there was that one w/leon and it was rumor that she said leon had a ‘salty pork hand ‘ ???? hahah LOL think cantonese metaphor. leon lai probably never gotten any complaints like that but from her i think i remember that incident. she is overrated, i never like her acting. so if she is still in demand in china, then she’s lucky.

      1. I think it must have been song bird. That’s the only series I remember her in. I was a kid and my mum loved it!

    2. Mine too, I think the older generations definitely like her. I don’t remember her besides my mom always telling me that she used to love her singing voice where were mostly oldie songs which i didn’t really care for.

  6. Chan chung ling is one of my favorite TVB actresses ever!

    1. I love her too! In the day I thought she was oh so adorable and her innocence came through in her acting which made her v sweet. Her singing voice was soothing to listen to and I must admit am still a fan even though her acting is not so great. She still smiles so sweetly. I just feel so bad for her that she went through such a terrible time for such a long time. How sad. Glad to know she has found meaning in life again. U go girl!!!

  7. It is Adia’s beautiful voice that I remember after all these years. Maybe it was her youth, but she had an energy in her singing and initial acting performances, which was able to hide her personal unhappiness.

    Glad that she has found her old spark, resolved her family problems and found meaning in what she is doing now.

    Although it was not mentioned in the interview, I believe Adia had converted to Christianity, which helped her in her path as well.

    1. I thought she was talented too. There are many celebs in the circle who are currently unhappy,struggling financially and in other ways,etc… However, they still manage to give it their best when it comes to anything they do. I think Adia is one of them.

    2. OH Jayne, you have to mention her faith?

      Now some will have another reason to bash her. Not that they don’t do it when there are no reasons for it. LOL!!

    3. so did Ada Choi and they both ended up with younger Mainland spouses – that is ODD.

      1. it’s like some ON switch got turned off inside their brain when they walked into a church – wth – didn’t Sammi Cheng find religion when Andy Hui stepped away momentarily for a few years?

      2. Ada is only 1 year older than Max which is not a big deal at all. But Adia is 12 years older which is a bigger deal.

  8. At first I was wondering who Adia was.. Oh so it was Nnadia… Boy, I wonder why she changed her English name so much??

    I heard that she did not have a happy childhood and that her mom exploited and abused her. Not sure how true that is though. Anyways, glad that she is able to find happiness. I thought her husband was 12 years younger?? That is a big gap for a girl to be older since women tend to age and mature faster than men do. However,as long as she is happy now, I think that is the most important. Glad that she is able to renew her life again…

    1. HeTieShou,
      It was reported in earlier news that Adia’s husband is 12 years younger, but in the above interview she stated that he is only 8 years her junior.

      Adia seems quite firm in her principles, which made it more difficult for her to get by disagreements with her family. But they have reconciled.

      1. Jayne,
        Thanks and yea, I was wondering which one was accurate.

        I heard back then that Adia’s mom forced her to compete in some beauty pageant or something and she refused, so her mom tied her up and beat her. Not sure how true that all is. But it is great that have reconciled.

  9. Super happy to hear that she has found a happier and meaningful life. Though it has taken a while its better late than never! Excited for her to get back into acting and singing!!

  10. 20 years is a long time to be lost in direction. Maybe more aptly is for 20 years she was just unsure what she wants to do? And so many names. Nnadia, Nadia, Adia, she is for me forever Chan Chung Ling. From the tone in the article I don’t think we will see her back in TVB soon since she clearly hated the celebrity life.

    1. I doubt TVB wants her back either. I don’t see many veterans stars over 40+ still in demand for TVB excluding of course that Wayne Lai partners with and Liza Wang or something. TVB has so many of these so called Ms.HK’s every year, why would they still hassle over veterans such as above?

      1. Over 40s?
        Btw you mean Sheren Tang.
        Esther kwan. Im pretty sure she’s filming for tvb right now, as lead actress in a series with bobby.. I’m sure tvb would love to sign her but she is busy looking after her kid.
        Kathy chow is also filming for tvb right now as a lead actress.
        Joey Meng? She just joined tvb this year and tvb wants to sign her, but she rejected?
        Flora Chan (tvb wanted her but she would rather study in US)
        Jessica Hsuan? Tvb wanted her to continue her contract and film TC2 but she rejected?

        I’m confused by who you mean by “those over 40 veterans who are not in demand by tvb” since many series are led by the veterans.

        Most MHK/MCI candidates can’t act well.

      2. **Nicole,
        hahaha LOL…That’s true, TVB basically have no markets for young leads unlike Taiwan and such. It appears the market has only midaged leads and probably HK audiences like it that way?
        I personally think their series nowadays are so boring and kind of sad that their market has only older generations as leads and I think that’s why the series are so damn boring now and almost all their series have stupid happy endings.

      3. most Taiwanese idol dramas don’t even get good ratings though, The most popular shows are still the 100+ episode Taiwanese language series. Most idol dramas struggle to reach 2 ratings. even the variety shows perform better than the idol dramas.
        Of course once in a while you get those hits like prince to frog or fated to love you or autumns concerto, but those are the ones people know of, not the other 10-20 bad idol dramas filmed in a year.

      4. I know, Taiwan produces pretty crappy stuff as well but it’s just they have a market for younger leads even thou they are not popular. All those ones you mentioned, I have watched Autumn’s Concerto but still the script is weak but I liked it b/c of Vanness Wu. He actually was pretty good in there unlike in Meteor Garden.
        China-also have a market for both old and young leads, whether they are popular or not i don’t know but they have both I think.
        Korea & Japan – have both old and young leads as well but in comparison I think Korea series are boring n all the same but Japan I’ve tried one or 2 series, even after the ending I find it stupid and pointless haha…lol…
        TVB-same old same old scripts n casts all the time and what i hate the most are their stupid lame, rushed and typically happy endings. SIGH…I guess it’s safe to say pros and cons for all these countries.

  11. better for her to layer long hair as it takes up nutrients for the body too, adia and hubby looks good together

  12. Wow, she sounds like she was emotionally malnourished by her upbringing and background resulting in her being in a state where she could get along with someone eight years younger. I wonder if she had had more training by elders if she would be on a different communication level from her younger husband who would have then been ineligible for consideration as a spouse.

    Anyway, I was totally distracted by the fact that she had income and never suffered any attacks on said income. I think that is the most important. The emotional lacks aren’t that big a deal – it’s kind of “rich people’s problems” like supermodels who didn’t get to go to prom.

    It’s a great pity that she couldn’t have furthered Josephine Siao’s role model behavior of acquiring wealth and then investing in her education to make up for shortcomings due to working at a young age – I love those kinds of stories. Didn’t Adia Chan attend HKU?

  13. I’m not sure but 42 might be too old for that kind of hair even if she looks young for her age. I would never marry someone younger but if I was in that position (because of some demonic curse) then I wouldn’t try to look younger at all – I’d go super granny just because I would find the situation macabre to further delude myself by trying to appear younger than I possibly could be.

    1. I don’t think she looks young (regardless of her hairstyle) for her age at all. She looks like her age if not older.
      Her husband def looks younger when pictured together. It is weird that all these women are with much younger men but this pair people will overlook since he was an adult. However, for Edward Furlong that’s a diff issue, that guy is messed up since he was like a kid of 13-14 when he hooked w/a much older women I think so it’s weird how he was still a minor n no charges were ever filed. I guess his parents were not around. haha LOL..But then again, these days there are many many cougar relationships and they probably don’t care what others say or they wouldn’t have done it. If you know Aaron Johnson, he’s cute and all but not popular but he’s in quite a few movies. He was w/this woman who then was his director @24 years older. Started also when he was a minor around 17 probably and now 2 kids @ age 22 and the woman looks like his mom or grandma so you know what….IT IS WEIRD but like I say they probably don’t care or refuse to care or they wouldn’t have done it.

      1. **Talia
        Haha Funny you mention Aaron Johnson. Yes, that woman he eventually married is a very old director compared to his age. He was still a minor when they first got together..AWWWWW…
        Even her own daughter is only 6-7 younger than he is so imagine that. MY god, but then people are saying he is NOT famous as of yet so he probably is a male golddigger hahaah so if women are doing it i guess men can be too? He is good looking and she is homely and old that much is true.

      2. *Cleo,
        Come on, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy does not look that old and can be called pretty but that 42 year old woman? NOOOOOOO hahah lol…

  14. given the look in her eyes, I think she needs to get her law degree – she should not have that look at the age of 42

  15. Is it possible that the very famous cougar marriages are affecting whether Japanese expats will consider younger Gentlemen Callers?

    I think Aaron Kwok, Ekin and Alex To’s behavior is typical and natural – and that should be factored into whenever a CHILD pursues a leftover woman. Also, as parents, look at the state of Edward Furlong who was seduced by his female body double during the making of Terminator 2.

    I really think these cougar romances are a slow acting poison.

  16. a RECURRING tumor!???

    She looks like a nice girl albeit kind of staid.

    Is HK a very tumor encouraging place? Didn’t Michelle Reis have eight tumors discouraging her from trying for a second child?

  17. Celebrity life in HK is punishing… I think Adia worked too hard and rested too little and her melancholy demeanour must have contributed to her illness. That and also with polluted air in HK, yea I am not surprised.

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