If you were lucky enough to be born in the Year of the Rat, you’re in good company. Some of Hong Kong’s biggest stars in the worlds of music, sport and comedy are also proud rats. As we approach the year of the smallest (but mightiest) of the zodiac animals, here are five famous rats who are already off to a good start.
Benz Hui Shiu-hung (1948)
Most locals know Benz Hui Shiu-hung for his role in 2002 Cantonese romcom Love Undercover (新紮師妹) as the resourceful undercover cop Chung Sir.
He’s been acting since the 70s and has been crowned several acting awards, mostly for his work on television. Hui’s brilliant acting (as Chief Inspector Wong Kai-fat) in the local 1999 action thriller Running Out of Time also granted him a nod from the 19th Hong Kong Film Awards, where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
Hui, who got his English name for driving a Mercedes-Benz to work early in his career, has always been well-off as he comes from a noble family. His great grandfather was a governor-general, and his uncles include renowned classic Chinese writer Lu Xun, and Hsu Chung Chih, Chief Commander of the Republic of China Military Academy in the Guangzhou region.
Dayo Wong Tsz-wah (1960)
Whenever Dayo Wong Tsz-wah’s stand up comedy tickets went on sale, many Hongkongers would be frantically snapping them up.
Famous for his simple, highly relatable, but dark punchlines,Wong had a tough childhood and wasn’t a bright student in school, as one could tell from his public exam results: straight “D”s for the seven subjects he took.
At Stephen Chan Chi-wan’s talk show Be My Guest, Wong admitted he’d once stolen a sampan, a traditional Chinese wooden boat, with his friends at Sheung Sze Wan Beach in Sai Kung. Though he was let off on probation, he earned himself a criminal record which later prevented him from joining the Hong Kong Police Force.
Before Wong made his way into the spotlight, the city’s standup comedy pioneer and local actor had been an import and export logistics manager, Commercial Radio Hong Kong’s DJ, and a researcher.
After writing his own scripts and working on the screenplay for most of the TV dramas he’s acted in, Wong slowly earned his stripes as both a respected actor and witty comedy writer, who’s performed at the city’s most popular indoor stadium Hong Kong Coliseum and across the globe.
Sammi Cheng Sau-man (1972)
Canto- and Mandopop singer and actress Sammi Cheng has been one of Hong Kong’s most prominent female singers for years now, and is still making the charts. Just recently, she won Top Song of the Year for her latest single We Grew This Way at the Ultimate Song Chart Awards.
Not only has she sold more than 25 million album copies and held more than 200 concerts worldwide, she has been a big trendsetter on the fashion scene, and was the first female singer to dye her hair blonde.
Muscular and fit, Cheng told local media HK01 that she only began eating carbohydrates again last year, after quitting it for 20 years. She confessed she had once been obsessed with being “skinny”, but now she understands being healthy is beautiful.
Yoyo Sham Ning-yi (1984)
For most of her career, Yoyo Sham has been flying back and forth between Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Canada to play gigs. The indie singer-songwriter has been living in Taiwan for more than eight years now, taking advantage of the city’s lively music scene.
Sham started out sing harmony for other artists offstage. But as the public started to notice her unique, sweet and soothing voice, and she soon after decided to focus of making her own albums and pursued a career as a solo artist in 2014.
“No one, but me, could sing my own songs [like I do], but someone could do harmony singing even if I quit,” Sham shared with Modia News early last year.
Cecilia Yeung Man-wai (1996)
The record-breaking high jumper, model, and Instagram Key Opinion Leader Yeung Man-wai often gives people the impression of an approachable, confident and naturally elegant fashion guru.
It’s hard to imagine the 23-year-old once loitered around the streets, doing graffiti, and used to drop stink bombs on the streets back when she was a teen.
“I used to dislike going home because nobody [kept an eye on me] or praised me,” Yeung shared in the “Celebrity Speaker Sharing Session” organised by the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association last March.
Suffice to say, Yeung’s life turned around when she discovered her talent in sports. But before high jump became her focus, it was volleyball that made her realise the heights she could reach.
The energetic and cheerful athlete revealed just how physically strong she is on Viu TV earlier in November, while sharing an incident that happened when she was a junior secondary student at Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School. Yeung admitted punching a male classmate on request, who was showing off his muscles.
“He told me he got bruises the second day,” she laughed and said.