Entertainment

'I had to figure out who my real friends were': 1990s top TV host Zhu Yongqin left showbiz to sell insurance


This ex-TV host had to go well out of his comfort zone in pursuit of success.

In a recent interview with Shin Min Daily News, the prominent 1990s TV host Zhu Yongqin explained his reason for leaving showbiz and becoming an insurance salesman.

“Singapore’s entertainment industry is small and I wasn’t satisfied with the pay increment I was getting when I renewed my contract at the time,” Yongqin, 60, said. “It was better to switch career paths and work hard to make it big while I was still popular then.”

During the 1990s, Yongqin co-hosted the popular matchmaking variety TV show The Perfect Match along with the equally popular host Huang Yuling.

The Perfect Match also saw Yongqin becoming a staple on TV.

He recalled: “There were one or two years when you could see me on TV almost seven days a week.”

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But when his contract renewal came in 1994 and his pay increment wasn’t satisfactory, Yongqin decided to bid farewell to showbiz and his hosting career and looked towards becoming an insurance salesman.

But he was also uncertain about his future and anxious during the time.

“At the start, I found it difficult to let go of my image. It felt very embarrassing to approach outsiders about insurance, so at first, I would talk to relatives and friends around me. Even so, I had to overcome psychological barriers.”

However, he didn’t expect that the mere mention of insurance to friends and ex-classmates whom he’s known for decades was enough to turn them off, with them even refusing to pick up his phone calls.

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Said Yongqin, who’s married with two grown-up daughters: “I had to figure out who my real friends were. It was very discouraging the first few years.”

Despite the initial setback, Yongqin managed to regain confidence, establish contacts and gradually improve himself with the aid of many people along the way, he shared.

‘I feel I’m not suitable for this new way of hosting’

Huang Yuling (second from left) and Zhu Yongqin (second from right) in a still from The Perfect Match. PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

When asked by Shin Min reporters if he’s ever been invited back to showbiz to host again, Yongqin said no and explained that he didn’t leave his contact number with the broadcaster. 

But even if he did, he feels that the current format of variety show hosting is drastically different from what he’s used to.

“Now when you host a variety show, on top of a quick wit and capacity for impromptu performance, a good sense of humour is also required. I feel I’m not suitable for this new way of hosting.

“I don’t want to ‘uglify’ myself — that’s not my style and the audience may not like it either.”

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khooyihang@asiaone.com



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