May 27, 2011
China Times Celebrity of the Week
Partying too wildly in JianZhong pissed off dad, young master Calvin Chen became a car washer
Translations by nastyhobbit@AF
Magazine scans of the Article
Adorable and smart in the eyes of his family, Calvin Chen carried the JianZhong halo, but he failed miserably in the 1998 university entrance exams, making the father-son relationship frozen from that point, and he was forced to leave Taiwan by his parents.
In his seven years in Canada, he took up a master’s degree in economics, and he even passed the exams to be an analyst in a bank in Canada, and yet he returned to Taiwan to pursue a career in showbiz, and only reconciled with his father in 2008. The proverb, “Plans never catch up with change,” became even more apt to describe Calvin Chen.
Like the extremely popular idol group “Little Tigers”, Fahrenheit’s four members each have their own personality, and since debuting it all went smoothly, which in itself is praiseworthy compared to other idol groups that proved short-lived. But as far as Calvin Chen is concerned, joining Fahrenheit was an unplanned consequence. A few days ago, during the press conference for his new book “The Incredible Journey of Calvin Chen”, almost the whole family was present with him on stage, making Calvin Chen both happy and touched. But recalling the events during his years in senior high school, and that in order to pursue his career in showbiz he had renounced his relationship with his father, having his family there made all kinds of emotions well up inside him. Universities released list of successful examinees, father was very disappointed
Actually Calvin Chen had been a model student since he was a child and even passed the exams to enter Jian Zhong making him the darling boy in his parents’ eyes, but it all changed in his third year in senior high school.
“JianZhong’s environment is very free, so I started to slack off and goof around until it got completely wild, like singing while a lecture was going on, playing billiards or at the skating rink, I pretty much did everything, and then at that time I also had a girlfriend, so I hardly thought about schoolwork.” He experienced three years of freedom, until the universities released the list of successful examinees, and Calvin Chen felt the consequences of his self-indulgence.
“I remember the day they released the list of successful examinees was August 8, it was Father’s Day, and after my father saw the school transcript, he said to me, “I’m very disappointed in you,” and nothing more. I heard them discussing sending me abroad, but I thought it was just all talk. I didn’t expect that within a month, it was September 7, I was standing at the airport, saying goodbye to my family. But my father was too angry that he wasn’t there. My heart was very sad.”Working part-time, saving money
Calvin Chen didn’t resemble a pampered foreign student from a well-off family that had everything he wanted. Remembering the situation at that time, Calvin Chen admitted, “It was really tough!” Actually at the start of his journey, Calvin Chen lived for half a year at his friend’s family homestay, and didn’t have any personal transport except the public bus.
“My father was still very angry at me, so it was with my mom that I communicated at the time. But don’t think that my mom returned to pampering me; I remember I only had 1200 CND each month (about 36000 TWD), in which 600 CND was spent just for rent alone, and the other 600 was for everything else. Actually I didn’t go hungry, but the reality and what everyone thinks is a comfortable life, were poles apart.”
To make his life more comfortable, Calvin Chen had jobs on the side. He became a teaching assistant, and even a car washer. Even if he only got 20 dollars per car, he didn’t mind. In order to save money, Calvin Chen lived in five different places in those seven years in Canada, and he moved house by himself three times.
Passed the exams to be an analyst at a bank
Perhaps it’s because he already played too much during his high school years, and also because of his parents’ pressure, he only took four years to finish his economics master’s degree, and took the exam to be an analyst at a bank. “Not until I lived in Canada that I knew of my parents’ sacrifice for me. Actually I calculated that just for tuition at university, my parents spent 1.8 million TWD.”
Even though he performed according to his family’s expectations, the issue between him and his father still remained. “He’s a very conservative person. We would talk mostly in two sentences and that’s it. I only remember him saying, “I’m very disappointed in you,” back in high school. And he never visited me in Canada. But on the contrary other family members came to visit many times. For graduation he said he would come, but because of work he didn’t.” Returned to Taiwan to film a series, father cut him off financially
In August 2004 as he was about to graduate, Calvin Chen joined the Canadian radio-sponsored Sunshine Boyz competition. It started as just something fun to do, he didn’t expect to become champion. “At the time, it was just something fun, but then there came the chance to film a series. In fact it was a big dilemma in my heart, because after all my father made me come to Canada to study, and now I’m coming back to Taiwan to film a series. There would surely be a big fuss at home.” He fought such a battle in his mind for half a year, and in February of the following year he returned to Taiwan with an unshakable belief, but didn’t dare tell his parents. “Normally I only phoned home during weekends and holidays, I probably called once a week. But I didn’t dare say I came back to Taiwan, so several times I had to call home from Taiwan, pretending I was still in Canada.” But one can’t keep on covering up, so Calvin Chen finally told his mother. Not long after, his father understood what was going on and was terribly furious, even cutting him off financially. “Actually I wasn’t surprised. During the half a year I waited to debut in showbiz, I lived with my friend for two months and taught English in cram school. This kind of life was very tough, but this was what I wanted.”
It wasn’t until Fahrenheit’s concert in Hong Kong in 2008, that Calvin Chen was asked by his father to go backstage, and told him some words that for him became unforgettable, “I’m so happy there are so many people supporting you!” And the relationship between father and son gradually thawed.
As for his interaction with his father, during the time of this interview, he took out his cell phone and showed us a text message, “He’s still very traditional, but every now and then he’d send me a text saying ‘JIA YOU!’ Regardless of the text message, he’d add these words “BaBa”. I’d also reply to tell him to take care of his health. I know he cares about me a lot, but just unable to say it out loud. So using text messages to communicate is pretty good.”Must get married by 35
Unlike some idols who avoid talking about their families and relationships, Calvin Chen is generous when it comes to sharing. Admitting he can’t endure not having a relationship, he also doesn’t mind going out with a girl on a date. Maybe it’s just his innate good luck, but compared to other members, the interval between his dates is the least, and the least is when he’s filming a series. “I’m always out and about in Tianmu. I would go out for movies and dinner with a girl. Even now, I can go out with a girl for coffee. Nothing is impossible.”
In order to pursue a career in showbiz, Calvin Chen set aside his degree in Canada and the job at the bank, as well as broke off with his then-girlfriend. He admits it was a pity, but he would still bravely chase after love. “In Canada I had two girlfriends, the second one was Taiwanese, and it wasn’t until a year after debuting that we split up. If I didn’t go into showbiz, we probably would be married by now, with two kids or so.”
As for his future relationships, Calvin Chen thinks family life is very important, so at 35 he hopes to already have a family, but his partner will probably not be someone in showbiz in order to avoid being too busy and too apart and becoming each other’s burden. “My work takes me frequently outside Taiwan. If my partner were also in showbiz, we wouldn’t have time to see each other outside of work.” Aside from marriage, for the future Calvin Chen wants to continue hosting, and break the misconception that idol groups only have to be handsome!