Photos: Tammi Tan, Ochre Pictures/Daniel Ooi, Instagram/Lina Ng
When Lina Ng, who left her full-time showbiz career to become a stay-at-home mum about 15 years ago, first told her three sons (aged 8, 13, and 15) that she used to be a very popular artiste, they didn’t believe her.
It wasn’t until Lion Mums 2 aired that they began noticing the recognition their mother would get on the streets, or the little celebrity perks she would be offered at restaurants. Even their own friends started asking them to help get her autograph. Now, they have accepted the fact that she is a bona fide celebrity, but life goes on as per normal.
In fact, when they found out about her nomination for the Star Awards 2019 Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes(her first since 1998), they didn’t seem to care about it… and frankly speaking, neither does Lina.
Hey, her words, not ours. “They know it’s a popularity award because of the name, but they didn’t ask me much about it,” she told us during an interview over breakfast at a Botanic Gardens cafe last week (fun fact: one enthusiastic waitress couldn’t stop fangirling over how pretty Lina was). “I think they bochup because their mother also bochup - I seriously don’t care!”
This doesn’t mean that the 44-year-old Close Your Eyes actress isn’t pleased with the coveted honour, of course. “I’m happy to be nominated but I have no expectations about getting into the Top 10 at all, and I love it!” she said, adding that this nonchalant outlook is a complete reversal from two decades ago, when she was much younger and did feel a burden to win.
Lina and her husband Mike Lam and their sons Joel, Samuel, and Jeriel
These days, Lina is under an entirely different kind of pressure now that she’s returned to the world of entertainment. “It’s exciting to hear people say that they’re glad to have me back, but it’s also a little scary because it shows that they expect to see the same kind of standard I left behind all those years ago,” she mused. “So I hope that I can at least display that same level of quality - I may not be any better but I must not be worse! (Laughs)”
“It’s a very real issue,” she continued. “I’m getting older, and honestly, my memory and energy levels are not as good as they were before. In Lion Mums 2, I had to keep scolding my [onscreen] son in one scene, and after I was done, I felt so dizzy! It’s true - I could feel my blood pressure rising!”
A still from 'Lion Mums 3'
(Continued on next page: Lina recounts her struggles with two scenes in 'Lion Mums 3')
Lina with her 'Lion Mums 3' co-stars Vanessa Vanderstraaten and Nurul Aini
The perky artiste was also very straightforward about being unsatisfied with some of her portrayals of elitist, perfectionist mum Chae Lian in the third season of the popular Channel 5 show, which premieres next month. “There were two scenes where I think I didn’t do so well because I couldn’t project my feelings of conflict as well as I wanted to,” she shared.
Her first struggle involved trying to cry for an emotional, wordless sequence. “The problem with me is, before my tears start to fall, my mucus will drip first, so I spent the whole scene focusing more on how to prevent my mucus from dripping!” she chuckled. “I did about six takes before I lost [the mood to cry], so it was quite frustrating.”
Watch Lina in 'Lion Mums 2':
The second scene she remembers getting upset over was an imaginary confrontation between Chae Lian and her eldest son Winston, played by Ian Teng.
“It was a very emotional scene where I had to show my internal turmoil, but if I had to grade my performance, I think I only hit 70 to 80 percent [of my full potential], when I wanted to hit at least 90 percent,” she said. “I didn’t manage to fully bring out her pain - even the director said the scene could’ve been done better.”
And as if things weren’t stressful enough, there is a bittersweet awareness of having to try and live up to the success of its predecessor, which Lina said was “the best project [she has] taken on so far”. “Many mothers and teachers have come up to me and said that they really like and relate to the show, so if that isn’t the case for the third season, then I will be very disappointed! Plus, season two ended on a cliffhanger so I’m sure they have very high expectations for it as well.”
Don’t worry, Lina, we’re sure fans are still extremely excited for the new instalment to hit the small screen. And besides, with Lion Mums 4 purportedly set to start filming next year, she will have plenty more opportunities to show improvements that are hopefully up to her lofty standards.
A still from 'Lion Mums 3'
Lion Mums 3 debuts on April 22, 9.30pm on Channel 5.
Visit the official Star Awards 2019 microsite for the Top 40 Most Popular Male and Female Artistes’ telepoll numbers and for more information!
Catch the Star Awards 2019 Walk of Fame on April 14, Sunday, 5.30pm on Channel 8/U and Toggle.
Catch the 2019 Star Awards Main Show on April 14, Sunday, 7pm on Channel 8/U and Toggle.