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.”

A Transformation

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!”

Source: Oriental Sunday #774 via

This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Growing up as a shy, sheltered girl, I felt the same level of social anxiety and self-doubt that Linda described.

    Reading about her confessions made me feel her sense of awkwardness and desperation. This is a wonderful interview, as it opens up the window to Linda’s true self. In each incident described, it is always self-doubt that crosses her mind in a situation of uncertainty, that she doesn’t believe she will be able to do it. Linda almost made it sound as if her achievements were through luck or the credit of others, failing to give herself the credit in most instances.

    It is ironic that she chose a profession that would test her social anxiety everyday and at any moment’s notice.

    While she comes across as conservative and mild-mannered, I didn’t expect her to have suffered such a level of social anxiety. She seems to get along well enough with her costars and onscreen, that shyness is not as apparent when immersed in her characters.

    I believe Leanne Li also has a deep-rooted sense of self-doubt in herself as well, which is why Linda and Leanne understand each other and have become such close friends.

    1. LInda is not only lucky but she worked hard to improve her cantonese hence she got promoted faster than leanne, vivian yeo and etc. Leanne is still pretty much at the same pace except she’s dating Wong Jo Lum now.

      1. Veejay,
        I remember watching Linda Chung in “Virtues of Harmony 2” and her Cantonese was very coherent. It is odd though that she seems so at ease with herself in front of the camera, yet she describes such a feeling of desperation when it came to communicating before others. She has crossed huge personal obstacles to be where she is now; it basically required her to deal with lifelong tendencies she has harbored in order to attain current level of success as an actress.

      2. yeah, she’s hardworking and a fast learner. She deserved what she earns now 🙂

      3. But she was still a Cantonese speaker. Her parents speaks Cantonese and her Cantonese wasn’t too bad at the beginning. Just that she can’t write and now it’s a bit better.

      4. Being raised by a cantonese family doesnt necessarily mean yuo’re fluent in Cantonese, just like me Im from a cantonese family too but I can’t speak those deep meaning chinese phrase (like poetic phrase) in cantonese fluently. I think what Linda meant was she has polish the language so they can heard fluently by others 🙂

      5. “ut I can’t speak those deep meaning chinese phrase (like poetic phrase) in cantonese fluently.”

        Veejay you’re not alone. I will think only literary family can.

      6. @Funn,

        Maybe that’s why Malaysian Chinese are often label as Rojak Speaker.

    2. I grew up in a very similar way as Linda. Being shy and lacking self confidence pretty much describes me perfectly. I feel that growing up in Canada kind of exacerbates the social anxiety. Canadians are much more slow paced in comparison to Hong Kong citizens. What surprises me the most is not only Linda’s choice in her career, but also being able to live in such a competitive and busy city.

      Although I am not a fan of Linda, but I have seen some improvements in her acting skills over the years. I also admire her modesty towards her success. The entertainment industry does require a certain amount of luck, but there is no single occupation where luck alone can maintain one’s success.

      The article shines a new light on Linda’s personality. It is always inspiring to see people with similar problems as yourself being able to overcome their fears. Thanks for the article!

  2. What Linda is referring to is “stage fright” having to talk in front of the camera or audience. Each person has varying degree of stage fright and it does take time, practice and experience to overcome or adjust to it. Most introverts have greater degree of stage fright than extroverted by nature of their personality and ability to cope with the public.

    1. I think so too. Society anxiety disorder is a lot more severe than what she describes.

  3. Linda looks like a nice, sweet and sheltered girl but I remember she also said she has her tomboyish at times too and she told the reporter to go ask Bosco, Lf and Jason Chan about it hehe. I like Linda’s nice image.

    Bosco said he’s impressed that Linda is a good girl in real life but is able to play bad girl roles.

    1. Linda can have improvements as “bad girls” but she’s cute as the naughty lengmo ghost in TI. Bosco must be too lenient on Linda’s acting index. I somewhat agree about Fala and Kate.

  4. I so agree, I’ve met Linda on two occasions and from talking to her, it was seriously different, I dont know, but it might have been because it was both an opening so she had to be more confident or what.

  5. Even now she seems not to be comfortable with this “celebrity life style” at all. Actually I see it as a good thing. Some ‘stars’ can be so fake, it’s aweful!

  6. I guess it was timing and fate that Linda entered the circle. I have a friend that also really wants to join but can’t. It seems like sometimes when you actively pursue something, it does not happen but at times when you do not want to, it comes directly at you. Glad that it worked out for Linda!!

  7. Linda’s adaption phase to HK entertainment was so tough she suffered a nervous breakdown, even contemplated suicide. Steven Ma was there for her throughout the rough phase; she is grateful for his unwavering support and encouragement. 9/12/2012 @钟嘉欣曾崩溃欲寻死,感激馬浚偉鼓励!

    Transcript by Tamaya from the said interview. (vid incl)

    9/12/2012 881一圈圈 Linked Circles: Linda Chung’s interview segment on Steven.

    Steven Ma, he is definitely the one person, since I entered the industry, who has witnessed most completely my whole experience. He is the person who most understands every phase of my situation. Because my first series was with him. Virtue of Harmony. At that time, I was still naive and innocent, straightforward and simple young woman. When I first saw him it was like seeing my idol because prior to this, though I didn’t watch many tv series I listened a lot of Hong Kong songs. At that time, I heard this song of his, (Linda hums the opening bars of the song and Steven’s song came on.) and listened to it often. When I saw him, I thought to myself, idol, oh dear, going to film with my idol. What am I to do? And so anyway, we were happy filming. One day, he and Tsui Jeh, who is his bosom older friend, and I had lunch together inside the studio.

    As we ate, Steven said to me: Kayan, you are truly very ‘guai’ (good girl), very innocent. I really like your kind of attitude, it’s very rare in this industry, you must keep it that way.

    I said: I know, I’ll work hard to keep it. I promise you I’ll not change the real me.

    And then after a lapse of two years (2007 May) we filmed another series together (A Journey Called Life). In that series, could see my person becoming disheartened. I became increasingly unhappy. It’s like I’d been forced to fit in a colorful, exciting world whereas before I was used to a much smaller and simpler world. At that time I was already sliding toward a state of collapse. But that was just the beginning. (Steven’s song started playing) He saw that I was sick, unhappy and cried often. He often advised me I must love myself, and must voice my opinions, and not to internalize everything and bottled it up. At that time, I didn’t listen to him because I was already on the onset of a nervous break down.

    And then in our next series together, Ghost Writer (2009 Mar-Jun), I’d truly collapsed. For 3-1/2 to 4 months I could honestly say that I did not sleep a wink at all; I was a walking zombie. At this time, no matter what Steven said to me I could not take them in at all. I could only cry uncontrollably. I felt that this would surely be my last series. I couldn’t do it anymore. I tend to over think, even contemplated suicide.

    And then we did Daddy Good Deeds (2010 Aug-Oct), and he saw a happy Kayan. An awakening Kayan. And become happy again. But he was ever skeptical of my change of attitude. Because this older brother, (Ah Gor), for he is truly an older brother as he has witnessed my growth and he has much affection for (sek) me. In fact, he has much affection for us three sisters: Fala, me, and Tavia. So that’s why whenever he and I met I would reassure him: “Ah Gor, I’m a big girl now, and I’m truly happy now.” He did not fully believe me. I remember one time he called me on the phone, and asked me if I was truly happy. “Yes!”; “Truly?” “Yes!” ; “Truly, truly?” “Yes, Yes!”, Truly, truly, truly, no?” “Yes, truly!” Initially, he was skeptical I’ve finally found my own brand of happiness. I guess he knew now that I’ve truly had a breakthrough in my thinking. After having been through so much and have grown more mature, I’ve changed.

    Steven in my life, what I admire about him is that he is straightforward, candid, and very protective of those he loves. He is also a very faithful man. I feel that if he meets people he feels deserving his affection, he will cherish them unconditionally with all his heart. Even if it is not his problem, he will stand up for you.

    I remember that one time when filming AJCL, I was very sick but still insisted on going to work. I did not dare to ‘lam’ (collapsed/breakdown) or knew how to ‘lam’ or had the right to ‘lam’. So I went to the studio even though I was extremely sick, and all I did was cried. (LC had in the past talked about her hour long crying jags in AJCL and in Ghost Writer. ) but still I would not dare go home. So everybody quietly came over to me and told me to please go home. I said I can’t do that. Because it was only my third year working, and I felt that I did not earn the right yet to collapse (lam). I was very timid and fearful. Out of the blue, Steven said in a loud voice: “I’ll be the one who ‘collapsed’ (lam) then. Kayan can go home.”

    1. Steven Ma is so hot. Great actor great singer and great friend.

    2. Thanks for the info and Steven is such a great guy!! I loved them in Ghost Writer and hope to see them pair up again since their chemistry was so touching…

    3. Maybe she was depressed due to disappointments in her career and/or love life.

      1. Maybe rumor bf LF just too many girlfriends until Linda felt cheated and used? lol..

      2. But he didn’t have many rumored gf back then. She was the only one. Who knows who cheated on who? 🙂

      3. Maybe she wanted to control him and been dumped, so despressed? The time is quite accurate.

        LF knew PSS in 2010, likely the time when he starts to treat Linda cold while she looked like she wanted him. Proof is the show in US when Linda tried to hold his hand and he gave her a hand shake with his tissue. Like that, Linda : I want to reconcile. LF: I have new gf and she is younger, sexier, more feminine than you. Linda: then I will go with Philip Ng. LF: oh well, go ahead.

      4. I’m pretty sure that they did date :), but it was never an official one like going to meet parents or announce to the public. Or they got breakup before this stage.

    4. yah. sad cus he dumped her at that time lmao 😛

      i also remember that she was supposed to be a guest at his concert during lgw (june) – had an article of all guest and all guest shown in the article did appear on the night expect linda so maybe last minute rejection

      after that they seem so cold like the concert in someplace where they appear so awkward and like what Fox said, she had to offer to hold his hand first lol

    5. Clamine,
      Thanks for the excerpt about Linda’s struggles. While I remember she was depressed filming “Ghost Writer” and had insomnia, I did not realize that she had contemplated suicide.

      Linda is lucky to have met such a caring brother as Steven to help out. When we are troubled, talking to the right person, from whom we can learn wisdom, matters most.

  8. i really liked linda when she first started out. even during the mci pageant, i was rooting for her. and when she used to be criticised for her chicken voice, i felt extremely “protective” of her, like i did with charmaine all those years ago. however, i’m not sure why but i started disliking her about two years after her debut. maybe i watched a couple of these interviews where she had her walls up, and i probably disliked what i thought was her personality. i like bubbly, talkative actresses like charmaine, tavia and kate. quiet, “see mun” and melancholic really puts me off them. right now, i’m up and down with linda, but on the whole, i prefer her over myolie and fala, and i personally rate her acting the best along with tavia out of the 5 fadans.

    1. I’m just the opposite, as I tend not to like those PR machines, and my favourites (myolie and linda) tend to be those who show a little vulnerability or doubt and maybe a little hesitant in their actions. I mean, that’s probably how all of us are deep inside, it’s very realistic. Afterall, how many of us are completely confident about every thing we do?

      1. Myolie and Linda has nothing alike besides heavily promoted.

      2. Myolie to me is a VERY ambitious go getter who will do anything to get what she wants, while Linda to me is a less ambitious girl with a gentle heart and is happy to go along with the rhythm.

      3. Myolie’s ambitious personality is translated into her acting, her interviews and her reaction at the 2011 awards. Linda’s personality is translated in her goodie girl acting, interviews and her songs.

  9. “I was much prettier when I was younger,”

    I agree with her.

  10. uWell, I personally think showbiz is not that simple, and simplebLinda could not survive, being loved by TVB and get promoted. The way she answer the reporter is too good, too diplomatic sometimes, i don’t think the brain stops working. Hard working ensure 50% successs and the rest? I also suffer from social anxiety and I know what it likes to be unsuccessful despite I know the requirements of success but I still can’t make it.

  11. “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. “

    Louis Yuen is so nice. Such a helpful veteran.

    1. Haha… It doesn’t hurt that the girl is pretty. It’s like how Bernice used to get “help” f/ hawick lau and then Moses. Also how Wong cho lam offered to help Leanne.

  12. “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!””

    I’m glad that Linda has changed her mindset and let her guard down a bit. I can really see her improvement in interview in that event where she met Wu Chun. She talks in a relax manner and this is the first time I see her joke in an interview.

  13. so…..TVB intially didn’t want to sign Linda, only cause Bernice pulled out……

  14. i still do not think she is naive and innocent like what she appears

    1. Indeed. She stayed in the industry for years, can’t be naive or innocent. But as long as she dun have any intention to do anything harmful to other ppl or badmouths them, she is a good girl.

  15. You totally deserve it, smile girl.

    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learnin to dance in the rain!”
    “when nothing goes right… Go left”
    “never look back, never regret, never remember the people you’ve met. Never begin and never end, never say never when it comes to your friends”
    “friends are like bras, they support you and are always close to your heart”
    “best friends are like buttcheeks, crap comes between them but they always end up back together”
    “giving up dosent always mean your weak. Sometimes it just means your strong enough to let go”
    “life: it goes on. Love: it dosent last. People: they change fast.”
    “if you’re willin to chase me; I promise I’ll run slow”
    “she just has to spread her butterfly wings and fly” “I love you”
    “smile, you’re beautiful”

  16. I am and have always been a huge fan of Linda. I watched her in MCI and was already cheering for her then (and I never watch those pageants normally) and am glad that she is now a happier, more relaxed person.

    Surprised to hear that she considers Bernice Liu a role model / idol, and not surprised that she is BFFs with Leanne Li.

    Thanks for the article!

    1. Of course it isn’t a surprise to know that Linda is best friend with Leanne and Shirley. Linda often goes home on Shirley or Leanne’s car.

  17. With her parents and family support, I have confidence that Linda can weather the entertainment industry’s rigor and hardships.

  18. I really like Linda as well. Interesting that she chose Bernice to model herself after, as I’ve always seen Bernice as quite the opposite (strong willed, outgoing etc…). I hope Linda has better success in her personal life than Bernice has had to date.

  19. Always like Linda.. but didn’t really because a fan until the drama with Steven Ma. The one where she was a party girl in the beginning. That was a good drama and she was excellent in her role!

  20. Interesting reading, thanks Jayne!
    I admire her good sense and perseverance. She’s a lucky gal as well with good friends guiding her along the way and well-loved by many. Keep it up Linda!

    Mild and kindly in nature, she did very well as the wicked brat “Elise” for GOL, lol! A versatile artiste!

  21. love this interview. she seems to be very happy to me. i just found out that we have a lot in common. i dunt even know where to begin. makes me feel more connected to her. in the US employers usually look for outgoing fun people. i’m the total opposite. never can find a job but shes so lucky she found a stable one. i tried acting and acted in plays and i hated it to my guts. never would have started if it wasn’t for college. i love her and steven together. where can i watch daddy good deeds? i watched 8 episodes and the website stopped working.

  22. That is so sweet, it’s great hearing the story behind this brave women!

  23. I liked Linda’s look when she first debut. She looked better during her VOH days than now.

  24. Linda is indeed a very down to earth kind of girl and has stayed true to herself despite all the temptations and deceit of the complex entertainment circle. I really like her and look forward to her winning Best Actress one day.

    Too bad she and LF didn’t work out. They make such a cute couple.

  25. Even though she is very mediocre as an actress, I love Linda as a person.

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