Viet Nam News
Famous actress Nguyễn Minh Trang left Việt Nam in 1998 to live in Singapore with her husband. She recently returned to Việt Nam to take part in a soap opera entitled Chiều Ngang Qua Phố Cũ (Walking on Old Street in the Afternoon) produced by the Việt Nam Television Film Centre.
She was born in Hà Nội but moved to HCM City in 1987. Trang was trained as a professional stage artist. Her 1979 debut in the drama Hà Mi Của Tôi (My Hà Mi) catapulted her to fame. She then participated in various films, TV series and dramas. For her devotion, she received the title Excellent Artist and two gold medals at national staging arts festivals.
She talks with Culture Vulture about her return to showbiz.
Why did you decide to take part in the TV series after nearly 20 years living away?
Actually, I joined a few film projects in HCM City in recent years but this is the first time I returned to Hà Nội after many years.
I come from Hà Nội and that’s the reason I decided to take part in this TV series. I was impressed and agreed to join the project immediately when director Trịnh Lê Phong gave me the screenplay. It’s a story about a family living in Hà Nội’s Old Quarter. When the parents pass away, a conflict develops among four siblings about whether to sell the old house which is full of memories but could fetch a lot of money.
Reading the screenplay, I was overwhelmed with emotions and memories of childhood. I found images of my mother, my generation and myself in this story.
You had to shuttle between Hà Nội and Singapore for this film project. Would you share something about the filming process?
It’s like a child living far from home for a long time and then coming back. I felt like a fish out of water. But thanks to the director’s instruction and support from the cast and crew, I believed that I completed my part well. The soap opera is currently broadcast on VTV1 on Thursdays and Fridays and has high ratings.
In a scene, actor Bùi Bài Bình slapped my face rudely. That take was repeated three times to receive the director’s nod. I hurt until now.
You are among the few northern actresses who received accolades from southern audiences. What made you so successful?
At the beginning, I tried to integrate with the community of southern colleagues and audiences by learning to speak in a southern voice and accent. But I couldn’t. Actually, my instructor liked the northern voice.
I decided that I couldn’t do something which is not me. I preserved the voice and luckily, the audience sympathised and loved my roles. I became a “phenomenon” as the only person speaking with a northern voice and accent in dramas with southern casts.
You were a stage star and a big name on the screen, but you decided to leave your career behind to take care of your family. Have you ever regreted it?
I love acting and I always try to come back to the stage if I have a chance. I felt lucky to have a happy family. Like many other women, I wake up early in the morning to make my husband a cup of coffee and bring my 10-year-old daughter to school. I named her Hà Mi, after my character in the drama Hà Mi Của Tôi to remember the pinnacle of fame in my career. She’s both my past and present and I treasure the happiness I currently have. — VNS