Vicky Chen, 14, wept tears of joy after she saw off two former Golden Horse winners to collect the Best Supporting Actress prize for her performance in The Bold, The Corrupt And The Beautiful at the recent ceremony in Taipei.
“I am very fortunate,” she told the crowd at the 54th edition of the event, which is seen as the Chinese-language Oscars. Vicky, the youngest ever winner of the award, said she was happy she “did not let them (the cast and crew) down”.
In Taiwanese director Yang Ya-che’s thriller, she takes the role of an upper-class heiress in a family dogged by dark political and business intrigues. There is a scene in which her character is raped.
Vicky also made history that night as the youngest ever best actress nominee for her role in Chinese filmmaker Vivian Qu’s drama Angels Wear White, which also competed in this year’s Venice film festival.
In it, Vicky plays a runaway who witnesses the sexual assault of two young girls and has to grapple with the dilemma of whether to report it. The film earned Qu the best directing prize last Saturday.
“This is not just a story in China. This kind of story is happening around the world,” she said. She thanked Vicky and other young actresses in the movie for “giving a voice to the children who are unable to speak up for themselves”.
Coming into the awards, Vicky’s talents had already spoken up for her. Local media have dubbed her a “prodigy” able to play complex characters in movies that tackle a range of difficult subjects.
Vicky described the roles she was nominated for in the two movies as “very challenging”.
“I wanted to try them out, even though I felt nervous,” she told Agence France-Presse in an interview before the ceremony. “I am very young, so there are some things I don’t understand. I rely on communicating with my seniors, other actors and the director about questions I have over the script.”
Taiwan-born Vicky’s acting career started four years ago when she was cast in a film in China, where her family is based. She went on to appear in a number of movies and TV dramas before landing a lead role in Angels Wear White.
“I like acting because I feel very happy and accomplished after finishing a scene,” she said.
But it comes with a cost. She noted that the days can be long as she balances her acting commitments, school work and private tuition. Teachers and fellow students did not treat her any differently after the nominations, she said.
“My classmates see me as their classmate and my teachers see me as their student. I don’t put too much pressure on myself,” she added. “Perhaps the most difficult part for me is to get up early and go to sleep late.”
In the wake of more than 100 women coming forward to accuse Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct – ranging from harassment to rape – there is a spotlight on the global film industry and its treatment of young actresses.
Vicky said she was aware of the issues, but felt she was in safe hands, with her family and management constantly by her side. “I am very well protected and I am also careful.”
Her ambition is to continue with her studies alongside her movie career – she counts Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman and Australian singer-actor and YouTube sensation Troye Sivan among her role models.
While she has made her name by taking on heavy-duty roles, Vicky said she would next like to play a “sunny girl”, a disposition which is closer to how she sees herself.
Director Yang said he has no doubts about her potential. “She has talent, of course. But, most importantly, she has a lot of passion.” – AFP