it or not, as I start writing this biography, I opened up Microsoft Word
rather than Notepad... Asking me why am I taking so seriously... like
writing a term paper? I don't really know…
Julian Cheung (or Chilam, or Chi Lam, or Chi-Lam) whichever way you prefer calling him. I personally prefer the name Chilam, because it's simple, easy to pronounce, yet unique, since it is not a real English name, but the "English form" of his Chinese name. Put his name in an official way, his name is Julian Cheung Chi-Lam where Chi-Lam is his first name in Cantonese.
Are you familiar with this name? No matter what your answer is, stay with me here and read the story about him…
On August 27, 1971, a little boy was born in Hong Kong, and his name is Cheung Chi-Lam. (Since I prefer writing his name as Chilam and this name will be the main character of this biography.)
A lot of people feel the same way as I do--Chilam is a very nice person! "Nice person" as in truly friendly toward everyone no matter who you are--a friend, an assistant, a fan, or in my case, even a fan's parents! You may ask, this probably has something to do with the kind of family he grew up in. So what kind of family does Chilam have?--Chilam was born as a younger brother and the youngest in the big family back then. As many people already knew, Chilam's parents had a divorce when he was 13, and afterwards, both of them had a second marriage, yet 13 years later, with Chilam's help and effort, they came back together and got re-married in 1996. Chilam also has an old sister and a younger sister. His older sister got married a few years ago and has a son (Yes, Chilam is an uncle!). His younger sister is his half-sister; and she is still a high school student in Australia right now.
When he was young, Chilam lived with his family, lots of family members. It wasn't just his parents, sister, but also grandparents, aunt, great-aunt, uncle, 2 cousins... a big family! And they all lived in one house. The house was only about a couple hundreds square ft. (quite small for such a big family.) To Chilam, it was fun. Around 10 or 11 o'clock, it's bedtime! There were only two bedrooms. One room for grandparents, and one for Chilam and his mom, dad and sister. The rest would sleep outside. They would put out the beds in the walkway and left a very small portion of it for walking. Yet, Chilam never thought his family was poor. Rather, he felt it was very warm and full of life. Everyone got along very well. And that was a very memorable time for Chilam. Being the youngest one, Chilam was sometimes sleeping on the table. Even though it was cold and hard, Chilam felt happy because with so many family members around him, he felt secure and content. In that big family, little Chilam learned to "watch" what people like. Since at home, there are a lot of adults, so he would have to help them do things. Back then, he had two nicknames. One was "Si Jai Wing". And what does Si Jai Wing do? He would always give his uncle massages (dup guat); pour tea for his cousins or aunts. When they were playing cards, he would hand out towels or make instant noodles. So that was his first nickname. His other nickname was "Bao Chong Ban" (meaning that whatever he does, he'll break something). Whatever you would tell him to do, he'll break it. He would never be able to finish that task. So, this is our young Chilam. (Source: Taiwan newspaper, 1995; NextMedia, 2000; RTHK Interview, 2000)
A Family of Stars
Chilam described his childhood as "a lot of fun", with a mom who won beauty contest; with an uncle who was a comedy actor; and with a cousin who was already a superstar. In his leisure time, little Chilam liked to follow his cousin and her young boyfriend (at that time) to watch how people "look at" superstars on the street. Chilam said, "My cousin's daughter is about to enter primary school, she will be classmate with Faye Wong's daughter. Most likely, our next generation will enter the entertainment field too..." And as a matter of fact, the little cute Chilam was already a commercial ad star back then! He made his very first ad (for cheese ring) when he was 8, and made another ad for Lemon Tea a few months later.
When Chilam was 16 years old, he immigrated to Sydney Australia. He had to leave his mom. At that time, his parents already had their divorce. Chilam immigrated to Australia with his father. He really didn't want to leave. He didn't want to leave his many friends, classmates and relatives. Everyone went to the airport to say farewell. There were about 40 or 50 people. It was like a fan club already. The scene was very sad, but Chilam was still very strong. To say farewell to these people, most of them were crying. His mom was crying so hard... like she will never see her son again... When Chilam got to Australia, he had to face a strange new enviroment. The first day he was there and that first night, he was crying. He was afraid of the future. He realized that this was a whole new world. No mater in school or living, there was a huge transformation. He learned to be independent. His father had to make a living, so Chilam did laundry, studied, cooked.. became a very independent boy. All these trained Chilam to become a neat person today. Growing up in that kind of enviroment, he made great friends with many different races. As a teenager boy, he went to Pendle Hill High School in Australia. And just like today, our teenager Chilam was already an attractive guy back then, so he was quite popular among girls and he probably didn't work so hard on his school work. ;-)
Rise of A Superstar
As many people wonder, how did Chilam start in show biz then? At the end of 1990, Chilam was 19. He just finished high school and was ready to enter university in Australia. That was his summer vacation… so he went back to Hong Kong to visit some friends and relatives. There he met his cousin, Anna Ueyama, who grew up with Chilam under the same roof like brother and sister. Anna who used to be a singer (and still a celebrity in Hong Kong today) introduced Chilam to his first manager, Tony. Then Chilam recorded his very first album--a duet album with Maple Hui Chow-Yee. Chilam was so interested in this show biz career, even though his father (like many other parents) preferred him to go back for school. Yet his wonderful father gave Chilam three years to try out and if he doesn't succeed, he will have to go back for his university study.
Three years… so by now… you could guess that Chilam succeeded in those three years. And in fact, he succeeded with his very first album, "Modern Love Story", released from Fitto (Flori Creation) in 1991. This album was on IFPI Album Sales Chart for 11 weeks! That still holds the IFPI record for newcomer singers. In the next few years, with the release of his solo albums, all sorts of newcomer's awards came to him one after another, even some overseas awards from countries such as Japan. People could see the potential in this young boy. In 1992, Chilam starred in his first TVB series "Peak of Passion" with his best friends, the Grasshoppers. In 1993, Chilam acted in his very first movie, "A Warrior's Tragedy." And in the past nine years, Chilam has released a total of 18 albums (9 in Cantonese, 4 in mandarin, and 5 compilations) and over 20 movies. And Chilam also made six TVB series between years 1992-1996. In 1994, Chilam acted in TVB series "Legend of Condor Heroes 1994" with Athena Chu and in 1996, he acted in TVB long series "Cold Blood Warm Heart". Back then, he never expected the kind of popularity those series would bring him… until 1998. That year, "Legend of Condor Heroes 1994" was a hit in Taiwan, and everyone calls him "Jing Ge Ge" (his character name in the series) when he was promoting his new album there. And at the same time, those of his major TVB hits had made "Chi-Lam Maniac" in Singapore, Malaysia, and mainland China as well. In Singapore, Chilam was even voted to be the new student idol of 1998, being the only actor/singer in Top 10 of all three categories in the voting (Movie, TV, and Singing)! Chilam never expected some series from years ago are actually bringing up his popularity today.
With His Success
Well, remember I mentioned that Chilam is a nice guy? And did I tell you, he is a wonderful son as well? He is a good boy in the family, and he respects his parents. Not only that he really tried to re-unite his parents when he found that both of his parents were not happy in their second marriage. Also, when he had made some money, the first thing he did was buying a nice house for his parents to live in! This is a true idol for the younger generations!
For all these years while Chilam is in the show biz, his love life becomes a piece of valued news to media and thus turns mysterious to those who care for him. In 1992, with many working experience together, Chilam and Maple (who worked with him on singing, movie and TVB series) were together for a little while, yet finding out both of them were still too young and later decided that they were not meant for each other. In 1993, Chilam met his current girlfriend, Anita Yuen Wing-Yee. Anita is a former Miss Hong Kong and now a famous actress. Chilam first worked with Anita in one of his MTV shooting "Miss You Much". In 1994, the couple admitted to the public about their relationship. Two young people were so brave in doing that back then and this action surprised many others. Yet soon they found that they shouldn't do that because now that everybody's attention is toward their relationship rather than their career, so the couple kept it in a low-key. A few years back, Chilam has lived under "Anita's shadow" because she won two Hong Kong movie Best Actress awards in two consecutive years while Chilam's career didn't go well. As time passes by, Chilam proved to everyone that such shadow does not exist, he can do better than his girlfriend. So from not favoring this relationship, many people start to think they look great together, especially when Chilam's career started to succeed more and more... Breaking-up rumors flew by every once a while in the past six years. In Anita's words, it's like "people want us to break up"… yet, Anita and Chilam are still together today, and I wish this true love will last forever!
Today, Chilam starts to open up his market in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and mainland China. In April 1999, Chilam filmed a Taiwan series with Shui Ling (an actress from China who got popular in Taiwan for her beauty and acting talents). The series received good rating (most welcomed drama in TTV of the year!) and great responses on this actor/actress combination. Several Taiwan series wanted to make another series with this couple. Unfortunately, due to the busy schedule of both of them, that never came true. As Chilam's new TVB series starts showing during the month of July, 2000, Chilam is busy filming his Singapore series, "Dare To Strike", which will take place in many countries, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand, etc. After that, a number of films will be waiting for Chilam… What a busy guy!
As we come to a conclusion… Chilam is a nice person, a hard worker, a talented musician who composes and sings well (I attended his live concert in 1997 and found his live singing to be WONDERFUL!), and a good actor who still has a lot of undiscovered acting potentials. If you know Chilam well enough, you would find out that what he really needs is a better luck. In today's Hong Kong entertainment, you not only need good looks and talents, but you have to be a superstar-type superstar. Someone like Chilam, being as natural and as friendly as he is, seems a little too normal to some people and the audiences do not tend to notice you even when you have just as much talent as those so-called idol singers/actors out there. All his timings seem to be off just by that little bit, yet that prevents him from becoming more successful. However, Chilam never gives up just because he doesn't have as much popularity as some other young superstars, he does what he believes is the best and he always tries his best!
At the turn of the century, Chilam keeps acting, keeps singing. He is opening up more markets for himself by participating in productions from outside of Hong Kong, because Hong Kong is where he started, but that is not a big market, and now he is opening up his own part of the sky by putting in his own efforts! Chilam knows being rich and being famous are not the only means of being successful, he has his definition for "success" and his fans will always be on his side to support him! We know who he is and we know why he is there!
A Special Thanks to those who have contributed to this article!
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