Early life and career
Born a Virgo, Michelle had shown great interest in the performing arts since young. With encouragement from her mother, the fourteen-year-old Michelle decided to sign up for the acting classes with the then Shaw Brothers’ Training School. On several occasions, she was given minor roles in Chinese movies and she took them seriously.
After graduating from both secondary and training school, Michelle continued to stay in the movie industry to expand her career.
In 1975, she joined the CTV, and began her journey onto the television circles.
In 1976, Michelle took part in Legend of the Condor Heroes, a period drama which was adapted from the famous swordplay novelist, Louis Cha. For the first time, the young girl took up the role as a female lead, portraying the character named Wong Yung. With her sweet and lovely looks and marvelous acting, this drama not only shot her into the limelight, but also created the first hundred million ratings in the television history. From there, Michelle was named the “first and ever Wong Yung”, and her popularity swept across Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and other southeast countries. Since then, she had been awarded the Top Ten Artiste Award for several years.
With the closure of CTV in 1978, Michelle became a contract-free actress, and many companies were vying to sign her up. One of the companies, Television Broadcasts (TVB) managed to invite her to guest-star in one of the period drama, The Twins, which later become one of her best works. During that period, her focus was on movies and stage performances, and thus audience rarely saw her on tv.
Career: 1980s and 1990s
During the 80s, Michelle signed and joined Rediffusion Television or RTV (former ATV). At there, she acted in several well-known drama serials, such as The Dynasty (co-starring Alex Man), The Radical City, Tai Chi Master (co-starring Alex Man), Princess Cheung Ping (co-starring Damian Lau), Legendary Fok (co-starring Wong Yuen Sun) and more, earning her the title of the Princess of Wuxia Drama. In the golden days of HK drama serials, she is in fact the queen of the RTV, who has always been a guarantee for high ratings and commend for her and her drama.
After her contract with RTV terminated, Michelle was once again a contract-free actress, and this allowed her to work for the two companies (TVB and ATV) more easily. However, such situation is considered rare due to the intense competition between the two broadcasts companies (TVB and ATV). Thus, it is amazing that Michelle could create such marvels. Examples like The Legend of Master So (co-starring Chow Yun Fat) and Tiger Hill Trail (co-starring Lawrence Ng Wai Kok) are still fondly remembered by the Chinese, especially the latter.
Other than movies and dramas, she has never failed to try new things. In 1982, she was invited by the famous singer, Roman Tam to perform in a musical play called Madame White Snake, portraying the role as a Green Snake. The casts included renowned figures like Roman Tam and Liza Wang. The responses were tremendous, and the trio was asked to perform in several large events on different occasions.
In 1985, Michelle returned to ATV and agreed to film a certain number of drama serials a year as part of her filming contract. At the same year, together with Damian Lau, she filmed a period drama (Chronicles of the Shadow Swordman) adapted from the famous swordplay novelist, Leung Yu Sang. This drama received many praises and critical acclaims of their impressive performances, pushing them into next higher point. Since then, both were entitled the name of Best Onscreen Couples/Lovebirds, and collaborated in many drama serials. Till now, they are still recognized as the best and ever duo in television industry.
In 1990, Michelle performed another musical play, Cyrano De Bergerac, a story adapted from the French literature. Her partner was Adam Cheng. This play had undeniably widened her exposure to the performing arts, and allowed her to take part more in the musical play in the future.
Michelle signed a filming contract with TVB in 1993, acting in a 300 more over episodes sitcom, Mind Our Own Business. Together with the casts, she performed in another musical play (The Flirty Doctor) again. Not only that, she was involved in a musical play (I Have A Date With Spring) with Alice Lau Nga Lai as well.
If the 80s are considered her toiling years, then 90s will be her relaxing period. She slowed down her pace, and only took part in some sitcoms while accompanying her family migrating overseas. She changed her lifestyle, and took up interest of learning zither and paintings. Other than that, she involved herself in charity works too. Hence, there was a period that people thought that she had retired from the entertainment circles
In 2001, TVB invited her to cast in Louis Cha’s another wuxia drama, The Heaven Sword & The Dragon Sabre 2000. Her partner was no other than Damian Lau. This time round, Michelle acted as a young and willful demon girl Yan So So who fell in love with the Damian’s swordman. Their performances were incredibly excellent, and both were praised and applauded for their wonderful actings. Especially Michelle, who was already forty-over then and yet, can portray the twenty-year-old girl so beautifully. As such, she won the name of The Forever Youthful, and was recognized of her everlasting beauty till today.
After the year 2000, she is actively involved in several shows, including filming for drama serials, dancing, musical play, game shows, and even cooperated with overseas broadcasts companies. Cash Is King (in 2002) and The Rainbow Connection (in 2005) showed good examples. Not only acting, she has also hosted in programmes such as On The Road and Life In Frame I & II. Both programmes received well-response, and the former was even awarded TVB’s The Most Innovative Programme during 2006.
In drama serial Moonlight Resonance, Michelle portrays the villainous second wife, Yan Hung, who plots to have the family separated. Her performance in this serial has won her many praises and recognition, making her acting career peak once again. With the outstanding role and excellent acting skills, Michelle won the Best Actress in the TVB Anniversary Awards 2008 and Best Drama Performance by An Actress in 14th Asian Television Awards.
Translated by: Tracey