Her petite frame contains an edgier, larger-than-life personality that sets Kary Ng apart from her sweeter-than-pie peers in the music industry. She is married to her long-standing sweetheart Brian Hung, who was formerly nicknamed Hong Kong’s Prince of Tennis.
Ng is one of the few members of the once nine-strong girl band Cookies that still works in entertainment. She has an eye for clothes and a figure that makes her a favoured muse for fashion designers.
Kary, you began your singing career in high school. Did you always know that was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always liked to sing. I’ve always loved doing music. When I was in high school, I realised I liked to perform. I started entering different singing competitions and performing at school. I remember when I was 13 or 14, I told myself I needed to get a record deal.
That came true when you signed with EMI.
For one of the singing competitions, one of the judges was my ex-colleague from EMI, and they were, like, “Oh, I quite like this girl. Maybe she can come in for an audition?” I went in and they liked me, so they were like, “Oh, we want to sign you, but with eight other girls.” So that’s how the girl band Cookies started. I was quite sad though.
Because you wanted to be a solo artist?
Yes, but I was so young that I don’t think I knew what I was doing. Now that I have thought about it, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to grow with the girls. I don’t think I could have done it alone.
Was it tough being the youngest in the group?
It was hard to adjust because I’d just left high school and now I was working with adults. I only knew how to sing. All the girls are so pretty. It was hard for me to build my confidence as a teenager. There were so many times where I would go to my parents and say, “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Everyone took good care of me.
Are you all still friends?
These friends are important because they’ve known me for so long. They keep you grounded. This industry can easily change someone because once you’re on the wrong path, you will chase fame and money. They are so important to me because when I try to go in a different direction they’ll always pull me back.
Speaking of chasing fame and money, you came into the public eye before social media. How have things changed now that social media are an influence?
A lot has changed, both good and bad. The good side is everything is so easy now, like me connecting with people, especially with my fans. The fans also get to know me more as an artist. The bad side for me is I think everything is too transparent. I like to connect with my fans, but I’m also a pretty private person, so sometimes I feel, wow, this is pretty overwhelming for me.
Is that why you went through an Instagram cleanse?
Oh, I got hacked. The hacker got hold of my account and started deleting all the people that I’m following and started uploading their own photos. I couldn’t log in. After it was fixed a lot of photos were deleted and I thought it felt pretty good, like a cleanse.
How do you plan what you share on social media now?
At this moment, I want to be really honest with my fans in terms of what I’m going through. With so much social media it’s very hard to see the real person. I’ve always been honest with my fans and the people that I love. I just want to tell them: I’m not perfect, I’m human too and I go through bad things. I’m not always nice. I try to be.
Is this longing to be honest with your fans what led you to share the news about your miscarriage late last year?
I was so scared because it’s such a personal thing. It happened to us and we were very sad about it. I’m sure there are tons of other women who are going through the same thing. I talked to my husband and we said if we had the opportunity to encourage those who are going through the same thing, then maybe this was the chance to say it. I feel, like, when I was going through that period I really wished someone had given me the same encouragement. That’s when we decided to release a statement and to be as honest as we could. In the statement we wrote: “We’re very upset that this happened. At the same time, we wanted to encourage those who are going through the same thing. This is not your fault. Do not blame yourself.” After I posted the statement, I turned off my phone for a few hours because I was so scared how people would react. When I read the comments, I’d got so many messages from my friends encouraging me and I felt so loved.
How are you doing now?
I’m a lot better. It will always be a scar for me but I try not to let it affect me too much because there are still so many other things I want to do in life. It will happen eventually. This year I’ve decided to do a mini-tour in the mainland, starting at the end of this month until the end of the year. I haven’t done a concert in two years and it’s exciting for me to perform again. Also, last year, when I took a year off to slow things down, I tried to explore different hobbies.
I started reading books. I’ve always wanted to read more but I had no time before. I really like to read non-fiction books. I came across this book called Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They’re both journalists and they travel around the world and write about oppression towards women: sex trafficking, education and poverty issues. After I read the book, it basically changed my life. I was so ignorant. I didn’t know there were so many women facing so much oppression. And I realised my whole life was only about myself. I was in my own bubble. I’ve been on mission trips before, and I’ve always wanted to help, but the need wasn’t as strong. I started reading almost everything that I could about sex trafficking and the issues that women face today. And then I started working with different NGOs. And, for the first time, I’m doing a screening for my birthday party. I’m screening the Half the Sky documentary. My main goal is to raise awareness. In the future, I really want to be involved in trying to do something around this issue. I don’t know what I can do to help but I guess this is a start.
This seems to tie in well for you because, naturally, as a singer, a lot of girls look up to you.
Exactly. As I was talking to Brian, he said, “You know, maybe you don’t need to go to Africa. Maybe that’s not what you need to do. Maybe your role is to use your big platform and get the message out there and then go visit Africa.”
How will this show up in your music?
At first, I spent time calculating. After two years, what should I do? What should I release? What do I want my fans to listen to? At the end of the day, I had a long conversation with Alex Fung, and we were, like, you know, I care about my fans but I don’t think this is the time to think about what they want, but to present what I really want and enjoy. That’s what I want my fans to see. How this industry works, I feel, even if you have plans for movies or singing, it doesn’t just happen. You need a lot of patience. I’ve had to prepare myself so when the opportunity comes, I’ll give it 100 per cent. I’m always waiting for my opportunity.
Photography / Ricky Lo
Styling / Kieran Ho
Animal Talent / Fat Ball Chai
Hair / Sing Tam from Pi4.hk
Make-up / Hubei Har
Manicure / EightyEight
Wardrobe / Gucci Pre-Fall 2017
This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of #legend.