SHE is not called China's Oprah Winfrey for nothing. Sharp, witty and intelligent, there seems to be nothing that the Shanghai-based Hung Huang has not done before.
In fact, the 46-year-old is a whole media industry unto herself: She is a publisher, TV host, best-selling author and actress.
As the chief executive of China Interactive Media Group, which publishes TimeOut's Beijing and Shanghai editions, the Chinese version of teen magazine Seventeen and a women's luxury magazine iLook, she is at the forefront of the country's lifestyle business.
Her debut movie Perpetual Motion, about men-bashing, menopausal women, was shown at the 2005 Venice Film Festival.
Since February last year, she has also become one of China's hottest bloggers, attracting more than 150,000 hits a day with her straight-talking style.But speaking over the phone last week from Hangzhou, where she is on holiday,she claims that she is "pretty wishy-washy".
"I'm actually not an opinionated person," she deadpans in American-accented English.
Her mother was the interpreter of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong and her stepfather, a former foreign minister. She went to study in the United States when she was 12 and graduated from New York's Vassar College, majoring in political science.
Divorced three times - one of which involved film director Chen Kaige - she is living with a partner, with whom she adopted a baby girl last year.
1. Of all the different hats you wear, which one gives you the biggest kick?
What I really, really like is being a writer. But I guess I get more of a kick out of being in the Chinese media because it's so chaotic. Let's put it this way: I'd have nothing to write about if I were not in this business (laughs).
2. Why did you start blogging?
When (Chinese website) Sina.com asked me to be one of its celebrity bloggers, I said no. But it went ahead and registered a blog under my name in the fall of 2005.
I then gave an interview in a magazine saying I think celebrity blogs are basically celebrities having verbal diarrhoea in written form.
A friend of mine quoted me on his blog. So before I even started blogging, I already had like 2,000 hate mail saying things like, "You think you're smarter than us?".
So I said, okay, I think I should clarify myself. That's why I started blogging on Valentine's Day last year.
3. So do you enjoy blogging now?
What I like is the fact that I can write unedited, unabashed, uncensored, put it up and have it public.
I write satire, but not everybody gets it. I constantly have advertisers coming to me to say: "Would you say something good about our product?"
It shows how impoverished our writings have become in the past 50 years.
4. You were once slammed by an angry reader who accused you of "polluting Chinese women's minds". What did you write that was so offensive?
It was a funny satire called "How many men should you sleep with to make your life worthwhile". It is actually the most-read article on the blog.
I wrote it after I got a letter from a woman in her late 30s. She married her high-school sweetheart and is now wondering if she has missed out on life by being with just one man. I guess this is what a lot of women ask themselves.
5. So how many men should it be?
I don't have opinions. I just poke fun at things. I wrote that having three to five men is "normal", but the number doesn't really matter. I would hate it if women took that article literally.
6. What makes you angry?
Most of the time when I get angry, it's with editors. When you're in the media,whether you're talking about fashion or politics, you have a responsibility to your readers.
You cannot make things up. You cannot just cut and paste press releases from advertisers and pretend you wrote it. You cannot copy information from the Internet. It's like lying to your own family.
Unfortunately, most of the press in China can't respect themselves enough not to do that. And that really makes me angry.
7. Have you sacked any editor because of that?
I had an editor-in-chief who used to give her staff bonuses for owning a luxury bag. So all her staff would starve themselves and eat instant noodles in order to buy a branded bag.
When I heard that, I was sickened. I called her and her staff together and said: "Listen, if you guys are just into buying luxury goods, then you should become mistresses of rich men because you're all very beautiful.
"I don't pay you enough to become big spenders like that. And eating instant noodles for half a year to buy a luxury bag is not the lifestyle that this magazine wants to encourage.
"What you have to love is creativity itself and what the brand stands for. Possession is not your goal. If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be in this business."
8. Complete this sentence: If I could live my life again, I would...
... like to have a chance to be a housewife. You caught me at a moment when I just decorated the house. This is fun. I would also try not to get married so many times (laughs).
Hung Huang will speak at two forums organised by Lianhe Zaobao.
The Chinese session, also featuring Chinese writer Mao Jian, will be held at Level 2, Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre, on May 26 at2pm.
The English session will be held at the same venue on May 27 at 3pm.
Tickets are at $25 (one session) and $40 (both sessions) (tel: 6319-1154/6319-8910).
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