Fiona Xie is a Singaporean actress widely known for her Chinese and English dramas and movies in Asia. In her Hollywood film debut, she takes on the role of Kitty Pong in Crazy Rich Asians, playing an opportunistic, social-climbing soap opera star. With Crazy Rich Asians featuring an all-Asian cast, Xie is proud to be apart of a movie that is at the forefront of a movement bringing more Asian-centric stories and representation in Hollywood. In addition, born and raised in Singapore, Xie is excited to be apart of a movie that is introducing the beautiful art and culture of her home, Singapore, to the world. Xie discusses the success of Crazy Rich Asians and playing the sassy Kitty Pong.
Could you start off by giving a quick rundown of growing up in Singapore getting into acting?
I was scouted at 15 and it’s been a hell of a ride since! Singapore has a studio system and I was with them for my entire youth! It was amazing to do Chinese dramas and movies as well as countless English dramas and sitcoms. I grew up on set.
You are currently starring in a movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, based on a popular read by Kevin Kwan. For those who are unfamiliar, what is the movie about?
It’s a rom-com about Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young’s experience in Singapore and an introduction to his family and culture. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and there’s something for everyone. We’ve got an amazing gang of comedians and chemistry on set that is evident on screen!
You play the saucy Kitty Pong, who is a gold-digging soap opera star, in Crazy Rich Asians. What was it like portraying her character and how did you prepare for the role?
Kitty Pong’s the bubbly life of the party with a touch of Cardi B sass and is the pretty woman of our generation! Jon Chu (the director) was amazing to let us have free rein and it was just a blast having fun with her character.
With an all-asian cast and introducing the success story of Singapore to the world, were there aspects of the Crazy Rich Asians or your character that resonated with you?
It was just a proud moment to watch my beautiful country unfurl onto the big screen for the world to see. It’s such a love letter to Singapore and has stirred so much interest and curiosity to the place I call home. The technicolor, futuristic Gardens by the Bay where the wedding of the century is held, and the Infinity Pool with the city landscape is all real!!! People thought it was CGI and didn’t really exist!
Upon getting the role, you first declined. How did you overcome your reluctance to take on the role of Kitty Pong?
What can I say? Jon Chu is a charming and persuasive leader! Hahahaha!
Portraying the ever so opportunistic Kitty Pong, style and fashion played a huge role in reflecting her personality. How did you perceive Kitty’s style and how would you describe your personal style in comparison?
She’s always larger than life and everything pops! Colour, texture, and yes, that Amy Winehouse hair! The higher the hair, the closer to God!
It’s amazing to be part of an important movement that is historical in changing Hollywood and to help continue paving the way for more Asian-centric stories to be told.
With Crazy Rich Asians being your Hollywood film debut, how are you feeling? How do you feel about the success and attention the movie has received?
It’s crazy because we all had the best time of our lives filming this. We have so much love for each other and everyone is so supportive. It’s almost like our summer camp video went viral! Of course, it’s amazing to be part of an important movement that is historical in changing Hollywood and to help continue paving the way for more Asian-centric stories to be told. Beyond blessed.
Born and raised in Singapore yourself, how do you think Crazy Rich Asians reflected Singaporean art and culture?
It’s based on Nicholas Young’s family, so of course, it’s just a sneak peak into a fraction of what Singapore has to offer: amazing street food, gravity defying architecture, and sprawling landscapes. More stories need to be told!
Being a hit and history-making film in Hollywood, how have the responses been with the movie’s release in your home country, Singapore?
We just had our premiere and everyone is bursting with pride! This is a true success for Singapore.
Prior to Crazy Rich Asians, you starred in many Asian dramas and films. How is does the Singaporean entertainment industry differ from the Western entertainment industry?
The structure and system is obviously starkly different. From the way it’s run to the daily nitty-gritty, they are unique to each territory and culture. One cannot deny the larger global platform of old school Hollywood global charm. However, one thing remains true and similar: to tell stories that would touch hearts and make an impact on society.
Outside of acting, what are your passions and hobbies?
Photography, design and art. Strangely enough like Kitty Pong, I have a keen interest in art and I do curate and consult for friends and family.
What are you working on now and what’s next for you?
I’m still busy with my art curation, consultancy and in talks with producers for more projects in the pipeline. And of course, the world can’t wait for the sequel for Crazy Rich Asians! Yasssss!
STORY JANICE KIM
PHOTOS SHANNA FISHER
MAKEUP AUSTIN EVANS
STYLIST WILFORD LENOV
CREATIVE DIRECTION ANNA ZHANG