Fred Cheng’s Thorny Road

Scotland’s Susan Boyle reached overnight success after performing the Les Miserables number, “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent.  Taiwan’s Lin Yu Chun (林育羣) became an internet sensation after performing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” on One Million Star <超級星光大道>. Fred Cheng (鄭俊弘) recently became Hong Kong’s overnight star after displaying his hidden talent.

The 29-year-old actor shocked viewers with his flawless performance of Eason Chan’s (陳奕迅) “Song of the Era” <時代曲> on TVB’s Voice of Stars <星夢傳奇> singing competition. Impressing viewers and the show’s vocal coaches with his powerful voice, Fred Cheng has earned the name as Hong Kong’s “next big hit.”

Fred’s Thorny Road

When Fred auditioned for Voice of Stars, he never thought about winning, nor did he even think about achieving overnight fame. He just wanted the audience to remember his name.

And it worked. Fans on Facebook created a “Fred Cheng, I recognize you” fanpage, and more and more netizens are beginning to pick up the older dramas he has starred in.

“It has all been very surreal,” said Fred. “I have always been interested in performing. When I was still in school, I was in a band and acted in a musical. After my graduation in Canada, I returned to Hong Kong in 2001. I wanted to join a singing competition for fun, and my mother was very supportive. I finally won second place at the final round. I was not expecting that twelve years later, the audience would recognize me through my singing again. I’m surprised that I was given the opportunity to sing again.”

In 2001, Fred auditioned for TVB’s International Chinese New Talent Singing Championship and came in second place in the finals. Under TVB’s management, he signed with record label Capital Artists, but in October 2001, the company went bankrupt. The following year, TVB enrolled Fred in the station’s artist training class. Fred has acted in over forty TVB dramas following his class graduation in 2002.

It was not a smooth start for Fred. For more than he could count, Fred has portrayed numerous random characters like soldier A, guest B, and waiter C. “After graduating from the training class, I have played many different kinds of soldier roles. I have died many times. My most unforgettable experience was shooting Perish in the Name of Love<帝女花>. I was a soldier. The scene I was in was about a bunch of soldiers pushing a canon up a hill against the stormy rain. I could still remember that the road was wet and steep. It was very dangerous. The rain was beating against my eyes. It hurt a lot.”

Fred earned his first speaking role in 2003 – a supporting character in Find the Light <英雄·刀·少年>. Fred continued to portray small supporting roles in dramas like Shine On You <青出於藍>, Love Bond <心花放>, The Life and Times of a Sentinel <紫禁驚雷>, and The Confidant <大太監>. Despite his promotion, Fred still did not earn more than a few thousand dollars a month.

“My family lives in Canada. I would always be worried about what I’m going to feed myself for the next meal, because I had no money! Around three to four years ago, I remember I only had about $50 HKD in my back account. The ATM wouldn’t even give me the money. I had to borrow $100 HKD from someone to pay for my Octopus card, so I could get to work. There was a time when I only ate bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I purchased a few buns at once because that’s cheaper. Transportation is expensive, so I would try to stay at home as much as I could. When I need clothes, I would only buy them online. I don’t have the money to pursue girls,” Fred added sadly.

Thoughts on Leaving

After completing Forensic Heroes 2 <法證先鋒II> in 2007, Fred was jobless for nearly six months. During this traumatizing period, Fred taped commercial ads at supermarkets and thought about working as an English tutor. He considered leaving the entertainment industry.

“For the longest time, my distant relatives would ask if I really wanted to keep going with my job. They asked if I could really see a future for myself as an artist. I felt awful. In 2007, my mom asked me to return to Canada to further my studies. My martial arts master also advised me to quit, and tried to convince me to return to Canada. No matter what happens, she said she would support me. That got me into tears. Everyone was worried for my future. I really thought of forgoing my development in the entertainment industry. My mother even suggested me to return to Canada to become a cop. Police in Canada get great benefits.”

Fred had contemplated about leaving the entertainment industry twice, but in the end, it was Fred’s own stubbornness, and Paul Chun’s (秦沛) support, that convinced him to stay in Hong Kong. “The reason why I’m still here today is because of Paul Gor. He played my dad in Love Bond, and from that day onward, he has been taking care of me like I’m his own son. He would always share his own experiences with me. Whenever I lost confidence, he would come to me with encouraging words. He once told me that, if I want to develop well in the entertainment circle, I must learn to know what it means to wait. I must stay determined. Although I wouldn’t know when the wait would be over, if I worked hard, everything would come much easier. I am very thankful to him. He is my savior.”

Fred also added with a smile, “I didn’t tell my mother that I joined [Voice of Stars]. I didn’t want her to be disappointed. But once the episode aired, all of Canada’s major Chinese papers had my name in their headlines. My mother was so happy. I will cherish this moment.”


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. I am so happy for Fred and that he’s finally getting some recognition (and money.. haha). He actually had his first paid promotional appearance recently after being in the industry for so long!

    He is doing a great job on Voice of Stars, especially when he did Angels. His performance was really touching and his dedication actually made me teary-eyed. I hope he gets a record deal and some meatier roles in tvb series.

    1. actually i found it funny that tvb wants to use this voice of stars program to promote ‘other people’ but the promoted one did badly with the chance and underdog such as fred manage to show his hidden talent and get recognized and well deserved fame overnight. love that fred got the recognition with his own talent and hardwork and not with big names backing. now tvb has no choice but to promote fred since he’s the current talk of the town in hk now

      1. His voice is beautiful but his face so….so, not really attractive

      2. Do you believe every rumor out there? sheesh..

        Everyone they chose is basically their “chosen one” because if any of them gets more popular, it only benefits them. Pretty sure they’re happy that their show is going to generate a star in Fred because as he makes more money, tvb will also make more money.

  2. I’m so proud and happy for Fred. I always think he’s cute and his acting is not bad.

    His performance was the best in the group. I hope he will get more luck in his future and I love how he’s so honest to the public with his financial issue.

  3. He was so cute when I saw him in Triumph into the Skies! So happy for him!

  4. “「參加今次比賽,我是沒有跟家人說,我不想他們失望”

    ^ It’s family members. You guys translated to Mother only..

  5. Typo: “-but in October 2011, the company went bankrupt” should be “-but in October 2001, the company went bankrupt”

    I hope Fred Cheng truly makes it. I’m very proud of him. I also find it impressive that he managed to survive with little money in HK. And if I recall, aren’t transportation expenses in HK going up?

    1. when capital artist went bankcrupt in 2001 why tvb make fred enter their acting class and don’t find him another label right away? 2001 should be the year before untalented twins popular and record labels must be appreciative of fred’s talent since he won a singing competition! where’s eeg?

  6. Definitely very happy to see Fred finally getting some long overdue recognition! Very proud of him for sticking it out this long and not giving up, despite all the setbacks he encountered. I actually already liked him as an actor and now I like him even more after seeing how dedicated and passionate he is about music and singing. His performance on episode 2 of Voice of Stars really moved me and hearing him talk about his grandfather afterwards definitely made the moment more poignant (I was already in tears by then).

    Best of luck to Fred and hope everything goes well for him in the future!

    1. I like him both as an actor and singer too. If TVB is truly using Voice of Stars to find hidden gems in their stash of supporting actors, I no longer find it irrelevant. Though I still don’t see why they can’t just have that kind of screening tests internally. I only fear that the program is really just a clever marketing stunt to promote their “chosen ones” instead of fair play.

      1. @advo: Well, I guess only time will tell. Whether Fred wins this competition or not, he’s already ‘made a name for himself’ so to speak, so we’ll have to see what TVB does going forward. Based on past track record though, it’s kind of hard to tell whether TVB (specifically their management) will be smart enough to grasp the opportunity.

        Actually, when I see Fred’s success now, sort of reminds me of Wayne Lai in that he was also ‘ignored’ by TVB for 20 years despite being a good actor and it wasn’t until other people came along and pointed it out to TVB that they finally woke up and did what they were supposed to. Although I must admit that Fred’s path was much more difficult so his newfound popularity is much more ‘bittersweet’….I definitely hope TVB does the right thing by him and doesn’t continue to ‘ignore’ him for another 10 years….

  7. Never heard Lin Yu Chun sing but comparing Fred Cheng to Susan Boyle is kind of exaggerating it.

    1. I think the article is comparing the fact that both individuals made a breakthrough by participating in a competition.

    2. Of course it is not an apple with apple, it is the hope and spirit to go for your dream.

  8. “I will cherish this moment.” <<< That sounds so sad, for some reason.

    I first saw him sing on Fuk Luhk Sau. I believe he was impersonating Ronald Cheng and sang Moh Lai. Wasn’t great, but with proper training, I see potential.

  9. Didn’t know Fred was achting so long as ‘keh leh feh” I only recognized him in Forensic Heroes. I am glad he finally get noticed. He works very hard & wish him all the best! Fred, you deserve it !

    1. Didn’t know that too and he didn’t look like one in FH. Think he is good.

    2. Yea, he’s in a lot of TVB series but only as klf. His biggest roles in TVB so far are Shine On You, Love Bond, FH 1&2, When Lanes Merge… He’s currently in TIT2 and Karma Rider too! Watch out for him! :]

  10. I’ve always liked him. So happy that he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. I feel like these past 2 years, a lot of underdogs have started to shine through. Hope to see more of him in the upcoming year. Sick of seeing the same awful actors over and over again.

    1. agree. rather see him than the current overpromoted jason chan and oscar leung who are less talented than fred but got so much chances and backup from big names. one of them even got a little arrogant after become popular. fred is different. love his humility and baby face.

      1. so agree with you both. Oscar and Jason chan don’t have the talent. Fred should go to China

  11. Noticed him since Love Bond, happy to see him get recognised and work opportunities.

    1. Can you support one without putting down the others???? =_=

      1. why should i? this competition was rumoured to tvb’s vehicle to promote and add exposure to oscar, that’s why they fouled out certain talented singers such as hoffman, but tvb must’ve never expected the backlash from public after consistently horrible performance from oscar and had to let him out in third episode

      2. sel_fi_wu:
        I don’t think so. If you have followed the this show’s wiki page, Oscar got eliminated, and so did Becky Lee.

      3. i already know oscar got eliminated in the recently recorded episode but that was only after he got lots and lots of backlashes from audience after ‘passing’ first round and second round with his horrible singing!

      4. I personally didn’t see any backlashes on Oscar’s singing.

        And each episode has some new judges.

      5. you must not be following the news. there are lots of news of how oscar’s singing was bad and tvb cut the harsh criticism on his singing from judges to save his face! backlashesmore worse in hk forums!

      6. I followed Sing Tao and Voice of Stars only took a small portion of the front cover of their entertainment news.

        And if you said lots, why don’t you link some?

  12. So happy for Fred! I liked both Oscar and Fred since I first watched them in Love Bond. Very happy to see both of them get recognized! Hope to see more of Fred in TVB series and hear him sing more!

    1. I watched them both in Forensic Heroes!
      Loved them!

  13. His shy/quiet personality works against him in this business, especially if he isn’t super handsome. I’m glad he’s finally receiving attention and gaining his value of existence in HK entertainment.

  14. To survive in this industry, you’ve got to find and show your unique character and personality, positive one and yet attractive.


    1. benjamin yuen has the looks and the natural born deep voice but his acting and singing has the same wooden syndrome

  16. I like Ben, Oscar, and Fred.
    All of them have their own strengths and weaknesses.

    Also, the videos that has Fred Cheng’s singing is going very popular on youtube! I mean, 1-2000+ views on some videos in 1-2 days!

    1. benjamin and oscar are now heavily promoted by tvb and got nonstop bigger roles in big productions especially oscar but fred is the better one among them whether in singing, looks or acting.

      1. let’s see if tvb will play fair after this programme and if tvb will promote fred the same way they’re promoting benjamin and oscar especially oscar now. or will tvb forget fred because he’s the underdog and not supposed to be ‘the pre-chosen one’ in this show?

  17. awwwww I’m so glad that Fred is getting recognition!!! it makes me so happy!! i’ve always seen him in dramas and wonder why he’s not in more scenes, but i hope this singing competition will broaden his job opportunities. wishing him the best of luck in the upcoming episodes!!!

  18. Getting noticed is one thing…getting promoted and continued sustainment is another. The entertainment business is a tough nut to crack definitely so listen to your mother and sifu and have a plan B ready or else it will be too late like many others before you.

  19. Kind of overrated. No offense.
    After all the hype I was disappointed when I finally watched his performance.

    1. His performance wasn’t superb, but I do think you could really feel his passion and when he told the viewers/judges why he chose the song Angels. Perhaps, that is what makes his performance touching. (:

    2. I was disappointed as well. It is kind of sad there is so much hype on Fred. It seems to show what a desperate state the HK music industry is. He is above average and shows potential but far from the hype that people are giving.

      His voice isn’t anything too special that would stand out. If he has some memorable songs, then it would help.

    3. I think his voice was great in context of the show and the other contenders. Not sure if he’ll stand out much in real international stage but in Voice of the Stars first two episodes clearly better than the others.

    4. Just watched his performance. Agree it’s not great but definitely way better than all the rest. Benjamin, like Sally commented, sang as if he was reading a book. Oscar was pitchy.

    5. Listening it live and listening it online can generate two different perspectives.

      Most of us are hearing it online, while these judges heard it live, unedited. So the feedback, atmosphere may be quite different.

  20. I personally love Oscar, Benjamin, and of course Fred (duhh, he’s from Vancouver (: ). I loved watching Oscar and Fred’s acting in FH.

    On a singing level, I personally prefer Fred’s voice > Benjamin > Oscar.

    And I agree with Sally Yeh on Oscar’s voice. I think that if he has better control of his voice, he would be very good singer. xD

    1. Haha… but Benjamin is emotionless when he sings. Fred and Oscar sings with emotions.

  21. Lost the last bit of faith I had in the showing being even 10% not fake when Becky Lee got eliminated over all the other male contestants. Being objective here (as I am not that much of a fan of Becky), she does have the best technique and voice – all the boys did better than average.

    A lot of people here are saying that Oscar was getting promoted by this show (agreed) but I think so is Fred – the whole story, the tears, the background story to his performance of Angels and then his high score this week. He sang ok this week however like the previous weeks, the praise was a little excessive to be believable.

    1. Becky Lee has the best technique and voice for classical music. But, she really didn’t sing the Hacken Lee song very well. She was not able to change her singing style to modern style. Her performance in episode 3 really was one the weakest of the night. She even went off key at one point.

  22. Fred is amazing after watching the voice
    episode 5! He sings with his heart that
    touches not only me but also the 4 judges! Fantastic! Eager to buy Fred’s DVD!

  23. Watch episode 5. Fred really is far ahead of everyone in terms of skills and singing ability. One forumer in TVB forum said it right. Fred is not a karaoke singer. He understands his songs and improvises on it. He doesn’t just copy the original singing.

    It can be seen that Fred really loves music. He knows a wide range of genre, not only pop. He can play his musical instrument expertly. He never stops singing and honing his skill despite not having opportunity to sing professionally. It’s so different from the other contestants who claim to love singing, but slack off practicing because they didn’t get to do so in their work (e.g. Stanley Cheung and Yao Bin).

    1. Besides Fred, some others I’m looking forward to are Corinna Chamberlain and Grace Wong.

      Corinna is another one who loves music and never stop singing. I hope she keeps on improving and give Fred some competition. Now, Fred is all alone at the front far away.

      Grace Wong is also a surprise. She’s not the best singer or the one with the best voice, but, she has interesting performances. Her singing and performance was so expressive in the latest episode.

      Lastly, I love Moon and has been rooting for him since day 1. But, it’s obvious that his singing is limited. Maybe because his lack of exposure to different genre of music. He seems to only sing pop songs and mainly songs from the 80’s and 90’s. His best performance was Lorelei.
      But, still wish him to improve and stay in the competition.

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