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Christopher Lee used his Star Search '95 prize money to pay off his debts and buy an old car

In case you still don’t know, Christopher Lee is a big deal in Taiwan. For starters, he has two Best Actor and one Best Supporting Actor wins at the prestigious Golden Bell Awards. 

Chris was the guest on a recent episode of veteran Taiwanese producer Wang Wei Zhong’s podcast Eh? Where Was I?. There, the 52-year-old Malaysian actor, who is now based in Taiwan, opened out about how poor he was as a kid.

“In Malaysia, if your family is not well-to-do, you have to go out to work at a very young age,” said Chris, who revealed that he started working when he was 12. 

He went on to share that he helped to sort out rotten vegetables in a factory, worked as a waiter, helped to pack charcoal, and was even a butcher.

When asked what plans he had for his future while he was working those jobs, Chris said: “None. It was just for the money to survive.”

It’s why he came to Singapore to earn extra cash.

“There’s a trend in Malaysia. After high school, we have a two-month holiday where we will go overseas to work. If you do well, you can earn some money to pay for your college fees to help lessen your family’s burden,” he recalled.

Chris chose to work in Singapore as he couldn’t bear to be too far away from his family.

He initially planned to work in a factory here for three months but ended up staying to work for six years after flunking his exams. 

When he went back to Malaysia, he realised his friends had all graduated from college. They all became managers or got great jobs, which made him feel “very useless”. 

An opportunity then came knocking on his door, thanks to a colleague, who left the factory to become a photography assistant at Mediacorp.

According to Chris, who was also working as a part-time model, his colleague had shown a producer some pictures of him. 

“The producer called me. Since young I’ve been against performing. I was scared of it and was shy. I didn’t like it but the producer kept asking me to go for auditions,” he recalled.

“Even after I went back to Malaysia, he still called me and told me about Star Search. He told me: ‘Why don’t you join this competition and see if you like it. If you don’t, I will give up’,” added Chris.

Chris agreed, but only because of the prize money.

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