Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Grace Chan, who wears multiple hats as an actress, philanthropist and former Miss Hong Kong.
You may know Grace Chan as the winner of Miss Hong Kong 2013 and Miss Chinese International 2014, but the Hong Kong-born Canadian beauty is certainly more than just a pretty face. Nearly 10 years since her debut in the entertainment industry, Chan remains as relevant as ever, not relying on her looks but on the good of her heart to continue making an impact.
Today, you’ll usually find Chan spending time with her family, who place first on her priority list. On the rare moments she reserves for herself, she’s either going to church, working on her charity LoveXpress, reading a good book or baking at home. In fact, she is a flurry of busyness — in a good way — when I meet her on a late afternoon in September. Caught up in the middle of her errands, Chan spends an hour with me at a café in Central to answer 27 quick-fire questions, before she’s off again to tend to her family.
27 Questions: Grace Chan
Name: Grace Chan
Neighbourhood: Hong Kong Island
Occupation: Actress and Philanthropist
1. What is your life motto?
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)
2. Who is your role model?
Jesus, my mum and my twin brother, Derek.
3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Both — it’s the only time I can be productive. I can’t do anything during the day from 12pm to 12am.
4. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?
The crazy rental prices.
5. What is your greatest fear?
Not raising my kids up well.
6. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Eating after 2am… which seems to happen every other day.
7. What is your typical Sunday like?
I go to church in the morning from 9:30am to 11am, then I bring the kids to extracurricular classes, have lunch, go swimming, pass out on the sofa from tiredness and wake up again to make dinner.
8. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?
The day I was proposed to on a flight to Vancouver with my now-husband Kevin. It was his first time visiting my hometown.
9. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
10. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
When they know that the best places for roasted meat are always local, neighbourhood joints and not fancy hotels and restaurants.
11. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?
My kids, my husband and my parents. Family before strangers.
12. Where do you go when you want to be alone?
I’ll go for a walk along the promenade. For me, the sight of the city and the sound of the sea is the best therapy.
13. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?
14. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
I’d say like a bit better than amateur. My best dish would be my “colourful” salads that contain anything from beetroot and kimchi cucumbers to smoked salmon and roasted duck breast.
15. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?
Anything Jesus has to say in the Bible flies well with me.
16. What is your unique party trick?
Telling people too much about myself in order to fill awkward silences.
17. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it.
My husband’s a pretty close call to this.
18. Do you have any favourite tattoos or special birthmarks? What is it?
No… but I would love to get a tattoo one day of my birthday and dedicate it to my twin brother, too.
19. What is the last dream you remember waking up to?
I can’t remember, but I know my least favourite dream is when I think I am in an exam hall and I realise I didn’t study for the test prepared in front of me. My inner Asian cannot handle the pressure of not getting a good grade, ha ha.
20. What would you do if you won the lottery?
Feel better about the exorbitant prices in Hong Kong housing.
21. What was the best gift you ever received?
My wedding ring!
22. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
When I had my first son, then my second. Kids do that to you — they make you realise this is why we live life the way we do… to create a future for the next generation.
23. What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?
Best: You cannot live or work happily if you only focus on the negative things people say.
Worst: Respond/retort/get back at all your haters and criticism. Actually, there’s no point in giving them more attention than they deserve.
24. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast forward 10 years?
Fast forward 10 years because I want to see how my kids will be in 10 years’ time!
25. What’s your favourite tradition?
Setting up the Christmas tree while Christmas music or movies are playing in the background and sipping on hot chocolate.
26. If you were a TV show character, who would you be and why?
Charlotte from Sex and the City. I’m very reserved in the way I see sexuality (again, the inner Asian in me), I’m meticulous and love planning things and I always prioritise my friends and family above all else. Plus, girl power!
27. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
I believe that God has a way and plan for us that’s not “written in the stars”. It’s up to us to find out slowly and surely each day.
(Lead and featured images courtesy of Grace Chan)