Host with the most: Vivian Lai’s career milestones

As the bubbly personality is inducted into the All-Time Favourite Artistes hall of fame, we look at notable firsts in her long and illustrious resume

Host with the most: Vivian Lai’s career milestones
Host with the most: Vivian Lai’s career milestones
10 Apr 2015

Host with the most: Vivian Lai’s career milestones

At long last, after picking up a trophy for every single one of the 10 nominations she has received for the Star Awards Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes since 2001, Vivian Lai can, along with Jeanette Aw, finally join the ranks of Zoe Tay, Fann Wong and Huang Biren to be crowned an All-Time Favourite Artiste.

“I feel like I’ve waited so long for this… 10 years!” the 38-year-old exclaimed in a phone interview with Toggle last Wednesday. “Finally, I have ‘graduated’.”

Since she emerged as the overall Female Champion in 1999’s Star Search, the Taiwan-born talent, who contemplated becoming an air stewardess or tour guide in the past, has built up quite an impressive resume that spans both acting and hosting gigs. So what’s next for the sprightly mother-of-two?

Why, winning a Best Host award, of course.

Although she has received nods in that category (Best Variety Show Host for Say It! last year and Favourite Variety Show Host in 2012), she has yet to actually take home a trophy – and she “blames” veterans Quan Yi Fong and Mark Lee.

“Aren’t they tired of winning year after year after year? Give this little sister a chance!” she whined playfully, before consoling herself with the fact that she has a Best Supporting Actress accolade, which she picked up in 2012 for her role as a Chinese national in Love Thy Neighbour.

Well, the Best Host honours may elude her for now, but at least Vivian knows she won’t be going home empty-handed at this year’s ceremony on April 26. In the meantime, we speak to her about some of the most notable “first” milestones in her illustrious career:

1999: Winning Star Search
1999: Winning Star Search
10 Apr 2015

1999: Winning Star Search

It’s the competition that started it all. 16 years ago, a 23-year-old Vivian signed up for the talent-scouting television show and not only triumphed in the Singapore category of the region-wide search, but was crowned the overall female champion (fellow Taiwanese actor/host Jeff Wang was the male champ).

When asked if she’s ever regretted stepping foot into the industry, especially at such a young age, Vivian gave an unhesitant “no”. “I think it’s because I’ve been fortunate enough to be doing well – I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t succeed!” she laughed. At least she no longer has that to worry about anymore.

2000: Her onscreen debut
2000: Her onscreen debut
10 Apr 2015

2000: Her onscreen debut

Then-newbie Vivian found herself in a knotty state while attempting a crying scene in drama debut Knotty Liaisons, which also starred last year’s All-Time Favourite Artiste recipient Chen Hanwei.

“Because it was my first drama, there were a lot of things I didn’t know how to do,” she recalled. In a desperate attempt to get the crocodile tears flowing, Vivian tried everything from pinching her thigh (the jab of pain yielded no waterworks) to conjuring up her saddest memories (that didn’t work either). In the end, the poor director gave up on that scene.

2001: Her first Top 10 trophy
2001: Her first Top 10 trophy
10 Apr 2015

2001: Her first Top 10 trophy

This year marked the start of her Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste trophy collecting adventure. Vivian would go on to make the list in 2003, 2004, and every single year from 2007 to 2014. In other words, as long as she was nominated, she would win.

Well, all ye faithful voters, your diligence and dedication all this time has finally paid off. Good job!

2003: Her first long-form drama (and self-proclaimed best work)
2003: Her first long-form drama (and self-proclaimed best work)
10 Apr 2015

2003: Her first long-form drama (and self-proclaimed best work)

Vivian was quick to name 125-episode series Holland V, in which she played plant-loving botanist Mo Rourou, as one of the highlights of her acting career. As it was MediaCorp’s first long-form drama, she admits it could be challenging at times, but the stint also proved to be rewarding as it helped popularise the cast members, including Vivian and her fellow All-Time Favourite Artiste inductee Jeanette Aw.

2006: Her first hosting gig
2006: Her first hosting gig
10 Apr 2015

2006: Her first hosting gig

Vivian has playful bickering sessions with her old neighbour Mark Lee to thank for her start in variety. Impressed by her wit and flair for conversation, Mark recommended her to join him on Property Classified.

“On my first day of hosting, I thought I could just stick with Mark and follow his lead,” she recounted. “Little did I know that after recording an opening segment together, we had to split up and speak to strangers separately! I felt so helpless, like a child that had left its mother.”

Luckily, Mark managed to impart some hosting and interviewing wisdom to Vivian, and it didn’t take long before she got the hang of it.

Mid-late 2000s: Her first endorsement gig
Mid-late 2000s: Her first endorsement gig
10 Apr 2015

Mid-late 2000s: Her first endorsement gig

Vivian is one of the undisputed endorsement queens on the Hill, having served as the face for top brands like Pokka (which hubby Alan Ong works at as Marketing Director), Kirei Kirei, Samsung home appliances, OSIM and more.

One of the first ones she took on was with eldest daughter Vera for Kirei Kirei’s soaps some six to seven years ago. “I felt like she (Vera) was the good luck charm that brought me the deal,” Vivian shared.

And it appears that the little “good luck charm” is a natural when it comes to the cameras (inherited from her mummy, perhaps?). “She was only about two years old at the time, but she surprised me because she was able to follow instructions after being told just a few times – she wasn’t bad!” the proud mama praised.

2012: Her first acting award
2012: Her first acting award
10 Apr 2015

2012: Her first acting award

Vivian admitted to us that when she was named Best Supporting Actress at the 2012 Star Awards for her role in Love Thy Neighbour, she was pretty perplexed.

“I don’t film dramas that regularly and yet, I still managed to win,” she said. Nevertheless, her controversial yet comedic portrayal of a Chinese immigrant ultimately convinced the judging panel to pick her over the other nominees, which included Constance Song, Kate Pang and Yvonne Lim.

2014: Her first English hosting gig (sort of)
2014: Her first English hosting gig (sort of)
10 Apr 2015

2014: Her first English hosting gig (sort of)

Last year, Vivian took on an extremely amusing (to us) but ultimately educational gig on Say It!. On the show, she did what she does best – hosting – but with a twist: she had to do it entirely in English, something she had never attempted before.

“When I speak English at home to the maid, it doesn’t have to be so proper, but with hosting it’s a different story, so I took this opportunity to learn new words and talking styles,” she said. “I really improved a lot!”

Does this mean we can look forward to more English-speaking stints from Vivian? “Whoever hires me for an English programme must be crazy or possessed,” she joked.

For more information on the Star Awards, visit our microsite, and stay tuned for more!

Catch Star Awards 2015 - Prelude every Friday from April 3 to 24, 10.30pm on Ch8
Catch Star Awards 2015 Show 1 Awards Ceremony on April 19 (Sun), 7pm, LIVE on Ch8
Catch Star Awards 2015 Show 2 Walk of Fame on April 26 (Sun), 5pm, LIVE on Ch8
Catch Star Awards 2015 Show 2 Awards Ceremony on April 26 (Sun), 7pm, LIVE on Ch8
Catch Star Awards 2015 Show 2 Post Show Party on April 26 (Sun), 10.30pm, LIVE on Ch8

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