Kevin Cheng’s 20-Year Journey

One’s first impression of 43-year-old Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎) may be that he is physically fit, polite, but serious. His professional devotion to his craft and his job can leave others to see him as someone cold, harsh and distant.

But when informed about Kevin’s 20 years of struggle in the industry, it becomes understandable as to why Kevin always keeps a furrowed brow. He has seen more in the last 20 years than the people who are twice his age.

A Teen Idol

Kevin debuted as a singer, an artist under PolyGram, when he was 19 years old. “At that time, PolyGram was a very powerful record label in Hong Kong,” said Kevin. “I felt very lucky. Some of my most favorite stars were with PolyGram at the time, such as Alan Tam (譚詠麟), Hacken Lee (李克勤)…. But I was just a rookie. I was inexperienced.”

Life as a singer was not how Kevin imagined it to be. “It was much more complicated that I had thought! Because I was still a student, I didn’t have any experience in the real world. I had a very simple mindset – I thought a singer only had to record music and release it, but that was not the case at all! I had to go on radio, on TV, and I thought, wow, I had to face so many people every day. I didn’t like it at all. I was an introvert. I didn’t know what I was doing most of the time.”

Marketed as a teen idol, Kevin did not have the liberty to make decisions. During his time as a singer, Kevin felt as if someone had been pushing him to walk in a certain direction and road.

“I continuously had to learn how to be an artist. I didn’t know a lot of things back then. I didn’t know how to speak, how to do interviews, and how to face the Hong Kong media… that was the worst. I absolutely didn’t know how to do interviews. I was scared that I would say something wrong.”

Turned to Acting for Money

Kevin’s career in Taiwan was not much of an improvement from his early idol life in Hong Kong.

“My time in Taiwan had been one of my lowest points in life,” admitted Kevin. “I had a lot of time to reflect on my past then. I thought about why I didn’t grasp onto the opportunities well when I was still with PolyGram. I understood then that opportunities would only be given to those who were ready. I still wanted to release an album [in Taiwan], but my road ahead was blocked. For several years, I waited for the chance to release an album, but it never happened. That was how I got into acting. I needed an income. I had to support my life.  I filmed [Taiwanese drama] The Legendary Siblings <絕代雙驕> and I was stuck with [acting] since.”

Kevin’s well-received role as the villain, Jiang Yulan, was what got TVB to notice him again.

“I always wanted to return to Hong Kong. I stayed [in Taiwan] for about five years. I didn’t have much on my resume, and that gave me a headache. I had to hold onto any opportunity that was given to me. TVB was a stronghold. Since I wasn’t signed to any management company in Taiwan, I didn’t have a steady income. Yes, the salary was low, but once you become a managed artist, TVB would cast you in many dramas per year. I had a steady income at least, and I didn’t have to borrow from my mother anymore.”

Dislikes Interviews

After years of setbacks and struggles, was Kevin’s mother still very supportive of his entertainment career? Kevin sighed, “She told me that I should leave the industry, many, many times. But like every son, I didn’t listen to her.”Kevin laughed. “When she would tell me to go east, I would always go west. But that is my personality. I didn’t want to give up when I was at the unluckiest time of my life. If one day I really do decide to leave the industry, I can just say that I’m leaving, and not because I was kicked out. I will only leave if I want to.

“I don’t want to leave [the industry] now, though. Acting could be my lifelong career. I truly like acting. But if you’re talking about taking photos and doing interviews, I really don’t like doing them. Honestly.”

With seven years of experience in the industry on his shoulders, Kevin expressed that it was not easy to “demote” himself back to rookie status and start over again in TVB. “But I had no choice. I’ve been a rookie many times. There aren’t many opportunities that will help you start over again.

Relationship with “Bu Bu Jing Xin” Cast

The smash hit time traveling drama, Bu Bu Jing Xin <步步惊心>, was Kevin’s first mainland Chinese drama series. Kevin did not find it very difficult to mix with his costars. Contrary to many Hong Kong actors who had filmed in mainland China, Kevin expressed that he did not receive much of a culture shock.

“The production crew [of Bu Bu Jing Xin] was similar to the crew behind The Legendary Siblings. The director was also Lee Kwok Lap (李國立). Just the cast was different.”

Kevin said that the filming methods in mainland China were not that different from Taiwan or Hong Kong, but the actor gushed that Bu Bu Jing Xin’s filming environment enabled him to form lifelong relationships with his costars.

“When I was shooting The Legendary Siblings, the cast stayed in nearby motels. When I was shooting Bu Bu Jing Xin, the cast had to stay in a house together… it was kind of like living in a school dormitory. The director and the production crew all lived in the same place. Even film editing took place there. In the bottom floor house dormitory, we could play table tennis, badminton, and could even play basketball at a nearby school. [Han Dong 韩栋], [Ye Zuxin 叶祖新], [Cecilia Liu 刘诗诗]… after work, we would knock on each other’s doors to see who would be available for dinner, or to play table tennis or basketball together… I was never this close to a cast before. It was really like returning to school. So we were all very close! We are still very close.”

Kevin revealed that he and his Bu Bu Jing Xin cast still remain in contact. “I just completed a drama with Yuan Hong (袁弘). I would meet Lin Gengxin (林更新) in Shanghai. When I was filming at Hengdian World Studios, Han Dong lived a floor below mine. We’re still very close!”

When it was mentioned that Kevin had gained millions of more fans after portraying the eighth prince in Bu Bu Jing Xin, Kevin laughed, “Actually, Lin Gengxin gained even more fans… but I believe that an actor should not repeat the same role. You will never experience growth, and you will never be able to show your full potential. A good actor would grasp at the chance to portray different roles. That is my target. I want to feel fresh, and I also want the audience to have a fresh image of me at all times.”

Loyal Fans

Does Kevin still have the same fans that have followed him since he won his first TVB award in 2006? “I do! Some even for 20 years! Actually, the moderator of my Hong Kong fanclub has been following me for 20 years. There are also some that have been following me for more than 20 years, since I was 19 years old.”

Growing up with his loyal fans, have the fans rushed Kevin to find a partner and get married soon? Kevin smiled, “They do! I told them to find a partner soon too! I have some fans who have married, and I even attended to one of their weddings. It has been several years, but now they’re divorced! That is how life is now, so that’s why I must be sure that she is the one before I marry her. Get married, divorce, and get married again… it’s a waste of youth and time.

“My thoughts on this has changed a lot compared to 20 years ago. Back then, I had the time to go out on dates; who knew what the future would hold? But now, it’s different. If we’re not right for each other, then let’s not waste our time.”

Source: Vogue July 2013 via

This article is written by Addy for

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  1. aww i’m so glad that Kevin is at a point in his career where he is doing the things he enjoys and getting recognition for it as well. so happy to see his success after all these years of hard work. it’s cute to see that the BBJX cast is close and still keep in touch. hope to see kevin film a tvb series soon!

  2. I’ve read many negative news about his working attitude, his arrogance, not sure if this is true.

    1. Kevin Cheng just needs more time to warm up. He is a bit shy and rather quiet in person. As a result, he gives people the impression that he is arrogant and hard to get along attitudes.

    2. Yeah, I still remember his controversy while filming Gloves Come Off. People need to understand that not everyone can be as sociable and extroverted. It’s sad how introverts are often given the ‘arrogant’ label which in turn makes it harder for them to approach people. I think Kevin is one of those misunderstood introverts. Oh and he’s still pretty close with his Fistful of Stances co-stars.

      1. I have met a lot of people like this. From what i gather from media reports, he seems the type of person who only communicates to people from his team when working. Like say for example, if he wants to change the direction if the script, he will probably talk to his assistant who will then feed the message to the director or producer.

      2. Yes, I have met alot of people like this too! Me being one of those introverts at times. If what you said is true, he prolly feels more comfortable communicating with people he’s familiar with to reduce the awkwardness. Introverts tend to feel awkward even in situations where one’s not supposed to feel awkward.

  3. Aww~ I’m sooo glad he kept in touch with the Bu Bu Jing Xin casts! They all seem really close behind the scenes too! I’m really surprised that he even attended one of his fans’ wedding! That’s really awesome by the way! XD

  4. ” I was never this close to a cast before. It was really like returning to school. So we were all very close! We are still very close.”

    I agree. I do think BBJX opened him up and made him less of an introvert. Like I said before, at the recent AOD awards, he totally turned on the charm and was the most relaxed and playful and I feel most genuine.

  5. I love Kevin Cheng, I think he is a awesome man, very charming maybe little shy but he seems very polite and gentleman

  6. So happy to see him so happy now, no more sullen looks. Wish him success all the way as he’s ‘suffered’ enough. Eager now for his Mandarin song album. Wonder how it’s coming along.

  7. Kevin truly my idol♥ I watch all his tvb drama & find him extremely talented….I started noticing him when he still no body in return of cuckoo (cant rmb) but it is the one he act as bad guy & dated an older woman….I was like he so handsome. ..& he sure going to mske it 🙂 he truly work hard & he deserve every recognition given….even if he came off rude sometime (if its true, which I doubt)…hes judt a human with temper & beinv his truself….I will nvr like a star who just “acting” all the time! Ganbateh Kevin ♥

  8. When the cast of BBJX was on Happy Camp, Nicky Wu and Kevin Cheng were the opposites of their character personalities in a way. Nickey Wu was the playful non-stop talker while Kevin was reserved and more serious. And although Kevin is a year or two older than Nicky, I think Kevin looks years younger.

    1. He was reserved and seemingly serious because of the “language” problem.

      One could barely make out what he was saying.

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