In her first major comeback role in Crazy Rich Asians, Fiona Xie proves she’s got what it takes to be a star. Hollywood, watch out! BY NATALYA MOLOK

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

In her first major comeback role in Crazy Rich Asians, Fiona Xie proves she’s got what it takes to be a star. Hollywood, watch out! BY NATALYA MOLOK

Earrings from H&M. Dress from Ralph & Russo.

In ripped denim shorts and a casual white blouse, her hair a long blunt bob, Fiona Xie does not bear much resemblance to Kitty Pong when we meet at a photo studio in Bukit Merah where her cover shoot is taking place.

But in her thoughtful response to our question about the money-grabbing sexpot character she takes on in last year’s breakout film Crazy Rich Asians, which at press time has picked up two Golden Globe nominations, Fiona shows just how much consideration she took before accepting the role.

“I’m not like Kitty at all. I’ve said before that I think I’m always the life of the party like Kitty, but without her loose morals. They couldn’t offer us pieces from our wardrobe to keep after the movie wrapped up because it had to go into archive, but I wouldn’t want any of Kitty’s clothes anyway. Yuck,” the actress says in between squeals of laughter.

“I ran away from this role initially because I didn’t want any controversy surrounding my career but I’m glad I took it up in the end. I’ve read the books, so I sort of knew that she would blossom into something more than what you see on screen in the first movie.”

The 36-year-old has her work cut out for her if she reprises the role in the film’s sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, which sees Kitty taking on a more major plotline.

She turns coy though when prodded on the status of her involvement in the second screen adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s books.

“I can only say that they are working on the script right now so we’ll see,” she teases. Fiona also let slip that Jack Ma could make a cameo in the Crazy Rich Asians sequel after joking about a character that resembles him with Alibaba’s co-founder Joseph Tsai.

“Next year seems like it could go in any way. I’m just happy to be part of such a historic moment in film. You never dream about being part of something like Crazy Rich Asians. It’s a box office phenomenon that has been nominated for the Golden Globes and very likely for the Oscars!”

Going from small time actress into the big league was a huge step for Fiona, but she’s had plenty of practice over the span of her career. Making her debut when she was just 19, she made a lasting impression as a pigtailsporting magical being in 2001’s My Genie.

She followed that up with a string of successful projects before making the abrupt decision to leave showbiz behind altogether. The time away allowed her to recharge and travel the globe before making another aboutturn back to acting after a seven-year hiatus.

“I never thought of coming back! Life takes really interesting turns,” says Fiona, who has a Netflix docu-series on Singapore hitting the small screen in December.

“Last year really paved the way for the next stage of my career, it was an explosion of opportunities and more doors opening for me so 2019 is going to be about riding that wave onto some rolling good times. So, next year I’m looking forward to growing the seeds that I’ve sowed and harvesting them.”

"I ran away from this role initially because I didn’t want any controversy"
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Dress from Toni Maticevski. Rings, from $368 each, from Carrie K.


Fiona shares her most special memories of Crazy Rich Asians

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Red-carpet Glam

Fiona wore a Jessicacindy gown to the movie’s Los Angeles premiere.

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Lasting friendships

Fiona with the Crazy Rich Asians gang at a reunion.

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Second Chances

“May I blossom under Jon M Chu’s amazing leadership.”

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Fab Locations

The famous wedding scene shot at Chijmes.

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The High Life

Channeling her inner Kitty Pong on vacation.