At just 23, the local singing sensation is already a colossal hit in Taiwan, Beijing and Hong Kong. In less than two years she overtook Kit Chan, Mavis Hee and Tanya Chua to become the most successful local singer. Among her many awards is the local Favourite Music Artiste title at the first MTV Asia Awards. Stefanie Sun re-defines the term “youthful spirit”
Q: How would you define achievement?
Stefanie: You don’t need an award or status to have achieved something. I would consider myself successful if I had a balanced life i.e. being happy with my work, enjoying strong family ties and having somebody to love.
Q: You’ve shot to fame in two short years, won a string of awards, what has success taught you?
Stefanie: That you can do so much in so little time! But of course, not without a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. For me, I barely get to enjoy weekends or holidays. While other people are celebrating Christmas or Valentine’s, I’m performing somewhere… Not that I’m complaining because I am passionate about music.
Q: If you could change one thing about your life, what it would it be?
Stefanie: That I could have known sooner how much I could do in a short period because I wouldn’t want to waste more time!
Q: With such huge success for someone so young, how would you cope if it were to all fall apart one day?
Stefanie: Truth is, I am not afraid because I won’t see it as a failed career. With my marketing degree and networks in the music industry, I would branch out into other music-related work, like producing or arranging.
Q: Honestly though, have you ever felt like you’re heading for a burn-out?
Stefanie: It gets too, too much when I turn on the television, flip through magazines, go on the Net and I see myself everywhere! It’s like I’m two different persons—it’s really disgusting.
Q: Have you ever suffered a breakdown?
Stefanie: There was a period when I was working non-stop and getting increasingly depressed. One night I couldn’t sleep a wink and I felt a sudden urge to leave everything and escape to Hong Kong.
Q: What stopped you?
Stefanie: I thought about the people I worked with and realised that they work just as hard, but don’t get to enjoy the kind of perks I do, so what makes me think I was so special, that I was “suffering” more than them? Everything comes with a price, even stardom, so I knew I had to deal with the responsibilities of being a singer.
Q: With so much publicity, what’s some of the biggest gossip about Stefanie Sun?
Stefanie: That I am arrogant, unapproachable, a lesbian and an anorexic.
Q: And your response to them?
Stefanie: Ignoring it, because whatever you say is pointless as it fuels more speculation. When you deny it, you’ll be labelled a liar. Either way you lose.
Q: But you’re known for your sunny nature, is that your strength and winning formula then?
Stefanie: Yes, I can be diplomatic and yet get my point across. But because I am indifferent to people who don’t matter to me, it becomes a flaw because that’s why people think I’m arrogant. I’m not the sort to schmooze at post-event parties because I don’t see the point of making new friends for the sake of looking friendly. And if I do go to a party, I only talk to whoever I want, and not act like a public relations machine.
Q: Taiwanese singer Fei Xiang observed that today’s young singers are like puppets of their music company allowing themselves to be told what to wear, say and sing. Do you agree?
Stefanie: Of course when you’re young and green in the industry, it’s only right to leave it to the experts to groom your career. They know what’s best for you. I myself leave most of the major marketing decisions to my music company because I trust that they know what’s best for me, after all they are the ones who are most in touch with what the audience wants.
I don’t argue about small things like choice of clothes or which shows I have to go on. But when it comes to my music, it’s important that my opinions and ideas are respected, and they usually are.
Q: Stardom comes at a price you say, how has your fame affected your family?
Stefanie: I get really upset if they get harassed. For example, one sister was asked why she wasn’t as successful as me, and another sis was approached by a guy who handed her my CD to take home so I could sign it. That’s unnecessary pressure I don’t appreciate.
Q: How do your parents keep you grounded?
Stefanie: My dad always reminded me that a person who is short-sighted will always suffer setbacks. It just means that I need to be less impulsive, which I am, and look beyond the immediate stuff and understand the repercussions.
Q: What must you do when you come home?
Stefanie: I must eat dinner at home with my family—and I must have steamed fish and oh, yes, drive. I miss not driving in Taiwan, so I’ll get my dad to let me drive his car!
Q: And what do you do to chill out?
Stefanie: I used to be a party animal, wearing flamboyant wigs and going clubbing with my girlfriends. Now, I’m happiest hanging out with them at home, playing games like Monopoly and Taboo—I guess I must be growing old!
Q: Not so old that guys aren’t beating down your door with proposals!
Stefanie: No romance la… And fans are different, that’s adoration! That’s why I’m still looking and hoping for a boyfriend.
Q: What kind of guy qualifies?
Stefanie: Someone with a good sense of humour, and he must be capable, especially in his work, because I must respect someone before I can love him.
Q: If you had to give one piece of advice to youths today, what would it be?
Stefanie: To work as hard as you can towards your goals when you are still young. That when you have the energy and spirit of youth on your side, it’s an advantage against someone older. When my friends grumble about knocking off work an hour later than usual, I remind them of that. I didn’t get to where I am now by sitting around. HW
July 2000: I am Sun Yanzi
Dec 2000: My Desired Happiness
July 2001: Kite
Jan 2002: Start
2001: STEFANIE’S BIG YEAR
12th Taiwan Golden Melody Awards: Nominated in six categories, Stefanie swept three awards for Best Newcomer (for Sun Yanzi album), Best Composer (for “The Happiness I Want”) and Best Composition (for “Dark Days” in Sun Yanzi album), edging out big names like Na Ying, Karen Mok and Jay Chou. China, General Evaluation for China Original Music Popularity List: Stefanie clinched awards for Best Newcomer in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and Best Taiwan Female Singer.
STEFANIE IS BEST NEW ARTISTE… MANY TIMES OVER
– Hong Kong’s TVB 8
– Beijing’s Channel V Music Awards
– Entertainment Weekly, China Times
– Singapore’s 93.3 Golden Melody Award
– CCTV-MTV Music Award
– 1st Universal Mandarin Top 20 Award
– 1st International Golden Melody Awards in Malaysia
STEFANIE IS QUEEN OF ADS:
2000-2002: Carefree sanitation pads
2000-2001: Motorola mobile phones & Subaru Impreza
2001: Lux hair products
2000: Real Taste (GuDao plum green tea in Taiwan) & Hang Ten apparel for autumn/winter