Cover story: Sunny & Dizzy on parenthood, personal space and shifting priorities
July 21, 2020
It’s been over two years since they last sat down and spoke with us – and a lot of exciting things have happened during that time. They went from being a couple to becoming a family, started their lifestyle brand The Empire and continued their YouTube channel The Sundizz Show, giving us a glimpse into in their private day-to-day lives. But it’s no secret that every relationship takes work. Chatting with this remarkable power couple, we uncover how they’ve grown as individuals, how they’ve managed to adjust their lives in these crazy times and how they’ve handled first-time parenthood.
But it’s no secret that every relationship takes work. Chatting with this remarkable power couple, we uncover how they’ve grown as individuals, how they’ve managed to adjust their lives in these crazy times and how they’ve handled first-time parenthood.
First of all, we want to congratulate you on adding a beautiful new member to the family! As a couple and as a family, how have things changed since we last spoke?
Dizzy (D): Having kids now, I have less time for myself, but it’s such a blessing, I love being a mom. It has completely changed my life – and our life. Katiya is sweet, and we are still learning as parents and experiencing everything along the way.
Sunny (S): I think for Dizzy, it’s a lot more stressful. As a mother, especially because she chose to breastfeed, it’s a lot more time-consuming. I can only help with so much. For my part, I can only be more understanding and lower myself on the totem pole. Now I have two bosses!
D: Before, when it was just us, Sunny used to be the number-one priority around the house. But now it’s Katiya Sky – sorry, Sunny!
S: And I’m speaking for both of us, but I think we’re more mature now. We think more about the family and we understand more about our parents. Before, when we weren’t parents, we wouldn’t ever think like that – so the mentality has definitely shifted.
Treasure is the main theme for this issue. Has going through this pandemic made you treasure day-to-day life differently? Do you think your priorities in life have shifted?
D: Yes, definitely. I have always liked staying at home; you really treasure your family members and treasure keeping things simple. At the beginning, when it was at its worst, you were scared to do anything
S: You want to isolate yourself, not just by social distancing, but because you’re afraid to be in contact with a big crowd. So it definitely makes you treasure the closest ones around you. I also think our values and how we perceive materialistic things have shifted. Like what I used to think I treasured… I love material things, I admit it! But it doesn’t matter as much anymore in times like this pandemic or, say, social instability. Are those things really important? Or are the things we need to treasure most the things we take for granted?
D: I feel like a lot people got depressed and sad during this time of isolation. I think you do treasure who you’re surrounded by during this time – those who are giving you positive energy and care.
S: Also, because of the pandemic, I have changed my daily habits. I’m always asking for hand sanitiser everywhere I go or bringing it with me. Now I’m more conscious of my health status and I think that’s something I learned to treasure – health is so important.
In our last interview, we found out that both of you are very respectful of each other’s personal space. How do you balance personal time, baby time, work time and life, in general, these days?
D: I just have to get through it. I don’t have a lot of time for myself because I’m a mom now. I try to get through it as best as I can. Sunny helps me a lot with taking care of Katiya and when he’s working, of course, I’m there taking care of Katiya. Also, my mom is here; she helps out a lot! So we’re very grateful for her help. But there are no guidelines on parenting. You just have to keep trying every day and make it work. We are experiencing this for the first time. Because of our daughter, I’m actually working harder and
even more focused on things. I’m not the most organised person! [laughs] I’m always forgetful, but since having Katiya, I know I’ve changed that habit. Now I just forget my own stuff! – but I always remember hers.
S: My time management is actually not as tough; being a dad, all you can do is just be there for them as much as possible. I focus more on providing for my family, so we all have different roles. And really, I’m just trying to juggle everything in-between. It takes time to adjust in the beginning – the first two months were a total mess! [laughs] Now it’s so much better.
Reflecting back on your own childhoods, did you have any childhood regrets or any experiences you would wish for your baby daughter?
S: Growing up, I was always very athletic, but I wasn’t much of an ocean kid. Today, everyone knows I love the ocean and I do a lot of ocean conservation. When I was younger, I knew how to swim and all that, but I was never able to explore or understood what was in the marine environment. So for me, I would love for our daughter to acquaint herself with the ocean and be able to explore it at a young age. We want her to see all the beauty under the sea – the corals, the exotic fish and even the sharks. That’s my regret – that I wasn’t in touch with the ocean until we were married. It’s just a completely different world.
D: I don’t have any regrets. I’ve tried to live my life with no regrets, so all the things I didn’t or couldn’t do when I was younger, I’ve tried to do them now. But I have to say that because my grandfather is part Russian, I regret not learning Russian, because this is part of my roots and Russian is such a cool language to speak. I’m grateful I learned many different Chinese dialects – I can speak Shanghainese, Cantonese, Mandarin and English. So I hope that Katiya can learn as many languages or dialects as possible so she can be more international and make more friends, too.
What has been the most treasured memory with your daughter so far – and what’s one thing that she has taught you?
D: As a mom, I treasure every day with her. You hear your friends talk about their experiences of being a mom, but you never fully understand until you become one. Having Katiya taught me to cherish my own mom.
S: My most treasured memory was the moment the nurse brought her out of the operation room. Before, when Dizzy was pregnant, I didn’t really feel it because I’m the dad. But when she came out of the operation room, and when I heard her cry and saw her move for the first time, that was a life-changing moment. Katiya has also made me look at life from a very positive way, because every time she wakes up, she smiles so genuinely. She’s a happy baby! I realise at those moments that that’s what life really is all about – because we have been programmed to think negatively about situations. I know life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, but I hope that she stays this pure and happy for as long as possible. When I see her smile, even at times when I know, there are negativities, I remind myself to weed out those thoughts and stay present.
D: She definitely taught us to be selfless. Before we were more selfish [laughs] Now we put her first. At times, I think, “It’s okay, I don’t need much sleep – as long as Katiya gets enough sleep, I’ll be fine.” These kind of thoughts and mentality, you know?
It’s been almost five years since you got married. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to all the married couples out there? Let’s start with Dizzy…
D: Women also have pride and egos, as much as men. Nowadays women are strong and independent, and have their own interests. At times, women may feel like, “Well, I don’t need you and I can do whatever I want.” But in a
marriage, it’s not always the case. In marriage, sometimes you have let go of that pride and ego. You need to cater to your other half. There are a lot of things you can’t be so stubborn on. This is for all the independent ladies out there – you are independent and strong, but in marriage, there are things you’ll need to learn to let go of. You just can’t always win.
S: My advice is: don’t be afraid to tell the other person how you feel. Always communicate – not just a conversation, but communicating in the right way. Don’t be afraid and don’t tiptoe around the subject – sometimes you need to speak out on how you truly feel. You need to be honest about your feelings towards your other half. If she’s not happy with something, she just needs to let me know and I will listen.
D: Listening is so important!
S: Yes! Sometimes when you’re busy and in the zone, it’s not like you don’t want to listen, but there are just so many things happening at once. So how to communicate with each other is important. When you’re upset about something, don’t be afraid to speak up and say, “I really need to you to listen now!” Don’t be afraid to express your feelings, because life is not always those happy moments.
D: When Sunny and I first got together, I remember that he read an article – later on, he showed it to me. The main takeaway from that article was that you have to listen to each other. That article highlights the percentage of marriages that failed because couples refuse to listen to each other. It’s very important to have your ears open and put yourself in their shoes.
Let’s move on to the work side. You’ve been very active on social media platforms, from YouTube to Facebook, and to TikTok. It’s been a three-decade stretch of social media and multiple generations of your audience. What made you guys add a new direction, besides staying active in movies and music?
S: We always try to stay young at heart. Dizzy is super creative, not just in music, but in life in general – so she really got me into this. We also see the trends! We aren’t doing this to show off, but we want to be interactive with
different audiences because we like to share our life and our experience with people. Also, it’s fun! She got me into TikTok. At first, I wasn’t into it, but now I always want to make new clips. We like making TikTok videos because it’s fun for us. It’s not an easy task to make them; it takes some production skills. But we like to speak to different audiences from all the platforms – to be able to do that is to us is a very cool thing. You also learn a lot about your followers, too. Four years ago, Dizzy tried to get me into doing vlogs, but at that time I didn’t want to because I found it annoying that we’d have to film all day, that we’d have a camera with us all the time and then edit it all together. But now I’m more open – and I’m excited about it!
D: Three to four years ago when I started a vlog, I tried to get him involved, but the timing just wasn’t right. Sunny was constantly filming and working super-long hours, even weeks, so when he came back for breaks, it was understandable that he didn’t want to be filmed all the time. He just wanted his time off – and I needed to respect that. When Sunny told me he wanted time off from a shoot to just enjoy some downtime, that’s when I knew I needed to listen and put myself in his shoes. Now he’s slowly eased into it, because he is spending more time at home now for our daughter. Making vlogs and videos for us is a lifestyle, and also a creative outlet. love these social media platforms because you’re allowed to express yourself and it’s fun. I’m tech-savvy, so I like to explore all these new apps and see what’s out there. I really like TikTok, because I love music and dancing, so it’s a really a combination of what I do – it’s like shooting a music video. This year, spending more time at home, I made Sunny do a few videos with me to help him ease into it – and one thing led to another. It’s so addicting to watch and to make them as well. The key is to enjoy yourself and have fun. You don’t need to be the perfect dancer – it’s all about the spirit!
Will we see more personal, family-related content on your social media platforms in the near future?
S: Maybe stand-up comedy? [laughs] Kidding! I have my other vlog that focuses more on lifestyle, especially cars, but we’re working on this slowly. We shoot whenever we’re free. She’s starting to get back into cars as well – her interest in cars started when we got together and slowly grew as time passed. We have a YouTube channel called Empire Motor Club, which is slowly taking off with more than 100,000 subscribers, so that’s something we will continue to work on
D: We also have Empire Aqua, which focuses more on ocean conservation. This is a lifestyle and something we care about. We have been free-diving and we have learned so much about the ocean. We want Katiya to experience what we have experienced and see the things we’ve seen in the ocean, and not have them disappear because of our daily habits – we have the power to change that. We want to use our platforms for causes we strongly associate with and commit to.
S: Our careers are still moving along. Dizzy will have a new album out this year and I’ll have a couple of movies coming out that were supposed to be out already, but got pushed back due to the pandemic. Oh and The Sundizz
Show – we’ll still continue working on that, because that’s more us working together.
What do you treasure the most from this new-found social media adventure?
S: I treasure these little clips and being filmed, because I get to collect new memories every day. It’s not just something for the public, but something for us as a family to hold onto and go back to years down the line. When our daughter grows up, she’ll get to watch everything we did as a couple and as a family – and to me, that’s something I treasure the most. This kind of technology wasn’t available when I grew up, so many things about your parents you can only hear from them describing it, or try to remember
bits and pieces of your childhood in your head. I enjoy collecting and accumulating these memories. It’s a visual diary we get to share with the world.
D: For me, I treasure the voice I have in influencing other people in a positive way and in the right way. For younger generations and everyone who looks up to me, I’m always very grateful when I receive messages or when fans come up to me and tell me how my posts or videos made them feel more positive, whether as an individual or when I’m with Sunny, or how my posts make them feel positive even when situations are tough. That makes me happy and that’s why I do what I do on social media – to share positivity and the right mindset! That’s the beauty of our jobs. We get to bring entertainment and laughter into people’s lives. #
Photography / Ethan Zhong
Styling and Production / Melinda Wang
Creative Direction / Kieran Ho
Text / Sam Chen
Sunny’s Hair / Ricky
Sunny’s Make-Up / Shin
Dizzy’s Hair / Shang
Dizzy’s Make-Up / Shin
Videography / Kai Shyang Hu
Photography Assistants / 王孟 & 嘉謙
Styling Assistant / Lo Xin