Is Zhao Wei a real-life Tiger Mom?

Popular actress Zhao Wei shares her inside thoughts on Tiger Mom parenting


Tiger Mom (credit to STAR Chinese Channel) (4)
Zhao Wei (left) as overachieving Tiger Mom Bi Shengnan, with co-star Tong Dawei (Photo: STAR Chinese Channel)

Returning from a six-year television hiatus, popular actress Zhao Wei, also known as Vicky Zhao, is back in a new incarnation.


The Chinese television and movie idol is best known for her innocent, girl-next-door roles as Lu Yiping in “Romance in the Rain” and Xiaoyanzi or Huanzhu Gege in “My Fair Princess”, for which she became the youngest winner of the Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress, in 1999. She no longer plays that doe-eyed girl on screen.


Tiger Mom (credit to STAR Chinese Channel) (5)
Bi Shengnan places pressure on her husband and daughter to do well (Photo: STAR Chinese Channel)

Last year, she snagged two Best Actress awards for her role as a distressed mother in Chinese film Dearest, about a couple in a remote village dealing with the loss of their son. She has even branched out into directing, with her 2013 directorial debut So Young breaking the grossing record for a female Chinese director within the span of a week.


More recently, Zhao Wei stars in the notable TV series “Tiger Mom” as the titular career-driven mother, Bi Shengnan, who has sky-high expectations of her daughter.

What does this successful actress and budding director really think of Tiger Moms, and how what are her thoughts on juggling her busy filming schedule and family life? She answers some of our queries.


How do you personally feel about your Tiger Mom character in the show?

She has very high expectations of everyone, including herself, so she ends up pressurising the people around her and stressing them out.


Are you like that in real life?

I’m the complete opposite – I’m actually very laid-back and easy-going!


So, do you consider yourself a Tiger Mom then?

I’m not! Because I’m busy with work and am less involved at home, I don’t get that big a say in matters. I just go along with their decisions. But I do discipline my child, although I can’t bear to.


Tiger Mom, Press Conference, Zhao Wei (credit to STAR Chinese Channel)
A mother of one, Zhao Wei insists that she’s no Tiger Mom though she does enforce discipline and good manners in her daughter (Photo: STAR Chinese Channel)


How did directing change you as an actress?

It really helped me to understand scripts and characters more deeply. I discovered more ways of approaching and portraying roles that I wouldn’t have known as just an actor.


Would you rather enjoy success or happiness?

I’d take happiness, because it’s invaluable. But it doesn’t have to be either/or – we should try to have both in life. Right now, I’m in a good place.


Tiger Mom, (L-R) Wang Sen, Zhao Wei (credit to STAR Chinese Channel) (2)
Zhao Wei (right) stars as a strict disciplinarian mother in her latest drama, “Tiger Mom”, while Wang Sen plays her mischievous younger brother (Photo: STAR Chinese Channel)


“Tiger Mom” marks your big return to television. Any funny story to share from your first shoot in years?

It’s been very long since I last filmed in Beijing, where I’d lived for 20 years. A big crowd of people came to support us. Some fans set up a pizza stand, some brought hotpots from their restaurants and there were even specialty snack stalls lining the road.

After we wrapped, the crew of “Tiger Mom” was sad to see me go – they haven’t had such a big feast while filming before!


Do you think Singaporeans can relate to “Tiger Mom”?

Having lived in Singapore for a while, I understand that children’s education is a top worry for many parents here. “Tiger Mom” explores this concern but also takes a funny and interesting look at it. It’s worth watching for the whole family.


What are your plans now?

I’m probably not going to film for the next one or two years. I’ve been spending too much time on filming – about four movies per year. I’m planning to spend more time with my family, and achieve a better balance in my life.

“Tiger Mom” airs Mon-Fri, 9pm, on STAR Chinese Channel, SingTel TV Ch 507 & StarHub TV Ch 822.

By Pamela Chow