(This is part of the series on behind-the-scenes while covering celebrities.)
(Dateline Taipei part 7)
When interviewing celebrities, you sometimes never know whether it will happen until the last minute.
Like this interview with Ariel Lin.
Before I arrived in Taipei, I was already making arrangements with her manager through email with the help of a common friend. No reply. So I asked another friend if she can follow up. The manager told her that I can email her. But I already did!
Anyway, with these things, I have learned to shrug my shoulders and just go with the flow. If it happens, it happens.
I had doubts though if she will accept an interview considering the hoohah over her recent break-up. Talking to a journalist is not just a good idea at the moment, although it’s the best idea as far as we in the media are concerned. But you never know…
On arrival in Taipei, I had other schedules to follow and it was actually an after-thought to call her agent myself after another follow-up email went unanswered. Good thing the agent speaks English and she told me she’d check the schedule and get back to me.
I rolled my eyes. Yeah, don’t call me, I’ll call you. I’ve heard that line many times before.
To my surprise, Ms Chou did call me back a few minutes later and asked if that Thursday night was OK. That was two days away. I said, sure (because in situations like this, you don’t really have the option to say–can we have it another time, in the morning, maybe?). She then asked me to send guide questions that I had to translate to Mandarin. (Thank you @marylngoh for coming to my rescue!)
Thursday came. My day was packed. I had the premiere of Van Ness Wu’s Road Less Traveled to go to that night too. Was it going to be a choice between Van and Ariel? I haven’t heard from Ms Chou. Meantime, my name was on the list at the premiere night already.
After my last appointment before the premiere night, I called Ms Chou to ask if it was a go. She said it was a go but she was driving and she’d message me the time and address. I was too busy trying to figure out how to get to Ximending for the premiere to really roll my eyes. But Ms Chou keeps her word (unlike some managers I have dealt with–cough, Qiu Ze’s Garfield, cough) and not only messaged me the time and address, she did too in Chinese.
So… goodbye Van Ness, although I did try to stick at the premiere (which took a long time starting, as usual) and saw Elva Hsiao arrive. But it was time for my appointment with Miss Lin at the other side of town so off I went again. Chasing stars? Literally.
The interview was done in Ms Chou’s office. I was on time and was surprised to see that Ariel was already there as I was ushered inside and was met by a white furry ball.
She was leafing through a magazine and she turned around and said “hi”.
“Your dog?” I asked as the white furry ball proceeded to greet me.
“No,” she laughed. “Her name is… Barbara.”
A tall woman came over and led me to another room. She turned out to be Ms Chou, who looked familiar to me as if I have seen her somewhere before. But of course it was the first time we were meeting.
Ariel has just come from the Christmas tree lighting at Shinkong Mitsukoshi in Xinyi and was wearing a top that I have seen her wear in In Time With You. We sat across a chunky wooden table in a room with white and baby blue walls. Barbara continued to snuggle at my feet and when I ignored her as we started the interview, started whining, prompting Ms Chou to say: “She likes you.”
I have to say this… I was never a fan of Ariel but I like celebrities who surprise me. Although my friend @marylngoh said before that I end up liking all the celebrities I interview and find them all nice. Of course, they have to be nice. It’s manners. It’s good PR. But I would have other impressions too. And Ariel was not only nice, she was warm, attentive and considerate. She wanted to answer my questions in Mandarin at first, going by the guide questions I sent earlier, but I told her that would be a problem because then I wouldn’t be able to make follow-up questions. So she spoke English and she was impressive.
She was willing to answer questions about the break-up but Ms Chou gave a subtle reminder on whether I wanted to finish my prepared questions first. I got the signal, we all had a good laugh, and I still managed to ask oblique questions. Not my best interview, what with a manager sitting in and doing her job. All in a day’s work for all of us I guess.
I just finished writing the story, coming out in Taiwan on The China Post either this week or next week. Highlights? She talks about plans for her 10th anniversary and her next project, her thoughts on being an idol, on happiness and love.
“Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending,” she assures me.
Whether she’s talking about In Time With You or herself… read the story.
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