It is 8pm and Chen Yixin has just finished a 12-hour day of filming for the second season of Titoudao, an English language period series. Dressed in a simple white tank top and looking surprisingly refreshed, she takes our video call in the back seat of the car as her mother, Singapore actor Xiang Yun, drives her home.
There are no complaints about how hard the day had been, even though Yixin plays a physically scarred character whose makeup has been causing outbreaks on her sensitive skin. She breaks into a smile as we chat, and there’s a note of positivity in her voice. When I thank her for making time despite her packed schedule, she starts off brightly: “It’s been a long day, but we ended off on a good note.”
In a crowd of rising second generation stars such as Chantalle Ng, Tay Ying and Eleanor Lee, the 22-year-old, with her girl-next-door vibes, may not yet be a familiar face among local audiences, but she is determined to push herself to be the best she can be. Yixin is the first among them to score an international leading role as Ling in the recently released 13-episode Netflix series Mr Midnight: Beware the Monsters, which is adapted from the local horror-mystery children’s book series of the same name.
The show, which chronicles the adventures of four youths who investigate paranormal activities in the small fictional town of Tanah Merah, also features Malaysian actor Idan Aedan as Tyar, a teenager who has developed a connection with the spirit world, and local thespian Lim Yu Beng, as Ling’s father, Uncle Tan. Yixin discovered her love for performing when she joined Chinese dance as a co-curricular activity in secondary school, and she later enrolled in Singapore Polytechnic’s applied drama and psychology course.
During that time, she struggled to reconcile her passion with a gnawing sense of insecurity, but she is slowly learning how to embrace confidence with humility – without the guilt.
She shares: “Acting has always been very present in my life. Mingling and interacting with people who are so passionate about the arts really inspired me, and I fell in love with it over the years. Performing has always been something that makes me happy.”
But she almost never entered the industry because of the intense scrutiny she has always been under, thanks to her famous parents, both of whom have starred in beloved local productions such as The Awakening (1984), and Zero to Hero (2005). Xiang Yun, 61, has even been dubbed one of Singapore’s first A-list TV stars.