No more bikinis for actress Fiona Xie
Local actress Fiona Xie returns after seven years, all grown up and ready to be a 'big sister'
Local actress Fiona Xie is back in show business after a seven-year hiatus, but don't bet on the 34-year-old ever recreating her most iconic scene.
Yes, that famous moment on television - in 2004 Channel 8 drama The Champion - where she ran down Orchard Road decked out in a sexy bikini.
The scene alone earned Xie the not-so-subtle nickname of "Boing-Boing".
At a press conference yesterday afternoon to promote her comeback effort, Channel 5 drama Left Behind, she told reporters with a laugh: "Oh, my friend just sent me Fiona, the song by (local pop-rock duo) Jack & Rai, which goes something like 'Fiona, why you're running in your blue bra', and he asked me what kind of bikini I am going to wear this time (on TV).
"No bikinis in Left Behind. No more bikinis. I'll leave that to the young ones. There are lots of new artists to wear bikinis."
She added: "I've lived my life, I've had my time and doing (The Champion) was a beautiful moment."
In response to her remarks, radio DJ Tim Oh, who hosted the press conference, said jokingly: "Did you hear that? That is the sound of male hearts breaking."
Xie, who worked on photography production, art curation, and at one point headed the Shanghai branch of fashion boutique Surrender while she was away from entertainment, said "it is comforting" to know that her roles, such as in The Champion, have "made a mark in the history of local TV".
"Back then, when I saw myself on screen, I'd cringe and feel embarrassed and go, 'Eww, is that really me?'
COMEBACK: (Above) Xie plays a psychiatrist in upcoming Channel 5 drama Left Behind. PHOTOS: MEDIACORP TV SINGAPORE, GAVIN FOO
"But now, I feel that when you are able to create characters that people remember, it is a mark of strong writing and a strong team."
With a smile, she said: "I never could say this in the past, but I owned my characters."
Left Behind, slated to premiere on Channel 5 in August, features Xie in the main role of a psychiatrist.
COMEBACK: (Above) Xie broke down while talking about an ill family member. PHOTOS: MEDIACORP TV SINGAPORE, GAVIN FOO
It is her first acting effort since 2011's The Golden Couple, a comedy directed by Malaysian singer-actor Aniu.
WAS ENGAGED BUT...
Xie, who admitted candidly that she "had avoided the media like the plague" over the past seven years, also revealed never-before-shared nuggets of her love life at the press conference.
"All of you know I've always been the sort who lived for love. I still do. Some years ago, I was engaged," she said.
"But I couldn't go ahead with the engagement.
"It was a very trying, traumatic period of my life, what with my grandmother's passing from lung cancer and other things going on in my family."
Calling herself a "serial monogamist", Xie said that she "is currently single for the very first time in a long time".
"I've been single for almost a year, and I am not looking," she said firmly.
"It took me a long time to grow into the woman I am right now, someone who is learning to love herself.
"I am enjoying my me time doing things I love - as an individual. I have standards, I am not going to settle."
Previously based in Hong Kong, New York and Shanghai, Xie said that one of the main reasons that she decided to move back to Singapore, other than to return to acting, was due to "a close family member falling ill".
She did not go into details, but she choked up while talking about it.
"To be honest, I was scared of returning to showbiz. It was scary walking back after leaving for so long," said Xie, her eyes reddening.
"My cousin, who is just 23, was the one who gave me the courage. He told me, 'You have every breath to live, why are you fearful?'
"So I am going to show it to him. I am proud of my cousin, and I love my family very much."
Xie, who was dubbed one of Channel 8's Seven Princesses along with Felicia Chin, Jeanette Aw, Rui En, Dawn Yeoh, Jesseca Liu, and Joanne Peh in the mid-2000s, said she does not view her younger showbiz counterparts as rivals.
"I celebrate the younger stars of today. I can never be 19 again, so please take those '19-year-old roles' as I can never play them any more," she said.
"I was a newbie once, so I understand what the young ones are going through. I went through it myself.
"Finally, I can be the big sister to dish out words of encouragement and advice."
I've been single for almost a year, and I am not looking.
It took me a long time to grow into the woman I am right now, someone who is learning to love herself.
- Fiona Xie
"Fiona has the X-factor that many do not have"
What is the reason for Fiona Xie's enduring appeal to local audiences and netizens?
Her X-factor, says Xie's good friend, celebrity hairstylist David Gan, who was as effervescent in his praise for Xie as he was blunt with his criticism of today's younger stars.
"Fiona has the X-factor, which is rare. If you talk about good artists, she is not perfect, but she is certainly ahead of many others. She is what our market needs," Gan told The New Paper.
"She has taste and can carry herself well. How many artists can sustain and continue to do well over time?
"Some of the new local artists and (social media) influencers can't even walk the red carpet. As for Fiona, she is known among heartlanders as well as upmarket audiences.
"Most of the newer artists are only known among heartlanders."
LIKABLE: Celeb hairstylist David Gan had plenty of praise for Xie. PHOTO: DAVID GAN INSTAGRAM
He hinted that producers and directors should not let talent like Xie go to waste.
"Our country is 50 years old, but our entertainment industry is far from developed. We don't want to lose our outstanding shining stars," he said.
Former actress-host Sharon Au, another one of Xie's pals, said: "Fiona is going to be awesome in her comeback."
Au said that Xie has matured a lot over the years.
"After she came back to Singapore, we caught up a few times for tete-a-tetes. She is so grown-up now," said the 41-year-old, who is currently an assistant vice-president and head of fashion portal styleXstyle with Mediacorp.
"When I knew her, she was only 17, and I was a silly goose too. Now we are two old ladies having tea and laughing at our mistakes.
"It was a coincidence that Fiona and I both left (showbiz) around the same time and for the same period. So we sort of went through the same liberation from a narrow industry to have the same awakening.
"A lot of that has to do with the fact that we both left Singapore and never looked back in those seven years.
"In the future, I hope to see Fiona play characters like Adele in (the acclaimed French movie) Blue Is The Warmest Colour. It is time the audiences see how soulful an actress she actually is."
Fiona is going to be awesome in her comeback... She is so grown-up now.
- Former actress-host Sharon Au