As Star Search 2019 Champion, Zhang Ze Tong earned himself the prize of a Mediacorp contract along with a shiny red Audi Q2. How has his life changed since winning the coveted title last November? We talk work and play with Ze Tong, our latest Audi Brand Ambassador, as he takes a break between filming his latest TV show.
MYAUDIWORLD: What are you working on right now?
ZT: I’m in the middle of filming scenes for a new Chinese TV drama called A Jungle Survivor. No, it’s not about heading out into the forest [laughs]; the action focuses on office politics – so a different kind of survival! I play a very honest, blunt and straight-talking character, as you’ll be able to see on screen when the show airs on Channel 8 in November 2020. I have more dramas and variety shows coming up soon too.
MYAUDIWORLD: Before winning Star Search you were working in e-commerce, so how has it been making the switch to full-time Mediacorp Artiste?
ZT: It has been a big change for me and one that I certainly hadn’t planned for. I’ve had to adapt to a lot of things such as being in the limelight, learning to be a public figure, as well as understanding more about the craft of acting. I’ve enjoyed gaining valuable insights from my mentor Christopher Lee and several teachers in the industry who have shown me how to be passionate about acting.
MYAUDIWORLD: What are the biggest challenges in your new job?
ZT: There are plenty for a newbie like me – memorising scripts is hard for a start, and when I’m being filmed I have to get used to ignoring the camera, while also being aware of the camera at the same time. Adjusting to my new working hours has been interesting because I used to do the usual 9-5, Monday to Friday office routine, but now with filming and rehearsals we go from 7-7, often working at weekends too. I hadn’t anticipated the amount of time and effort that goes into making a drama – maybe 3 months of filming to complete a 20-episode show.
Another big adjustment is my appearance. Previously I was a classic tech office guy always in t-shirts and jeans, but now I have to be more aware of how I look in public. I’ve actually enjoyed making this change because of the boost it gives me mentally – “wear better, feel better”, I call it.
MYAUDIWORLD: Are you getting more recognised when out and about?
ZT: More than before, for sure. In fact, I was recently spotted by a fan even though I was wearing my mask! I’ve found fans are very respectful though and not intrusive when I’m out relaxing.
MYAUDIWORLD: Owning the Audi Q2 has probably been an easier adjustment for you?
ZT: Yes, the Q2 has been great – in a sense it’s like adulting to finally own my first car! I’ve nicknamed it “Red Rookie” as that’s like me in my new acting job. I love using the car’s MMI system which helps me with everything from navigation and communication to listening to my Spotify. I can’t imagine life without it now. The Q2’s roomy interior is also really helpful as it means I can easily carry all my outfits from place to place, so it serves as a very smart mobile wardrobe.
MYAUDIWORLD: Where do you like driving to when you’re not working?
ZT: I’m a big foodie so I like to go hunting for good dining spots – owning the Q2 opens up many new places for me to explore. One place I’ve enjoyed discovering is The Coastal Settlement out near Changi Village which would be pretty inaccessible without having a car. Mount Faber is somewhere else that’s fun to drive – climbing up the narrow, twisty road through the park feels like you’re briefly leaving Singapore.
MYAUDIWORLD: Today we’re meeting at the Friends-themed café Central Perk. We chose it specially because we thought you’d like to try one of their barista courses – you’re a big coffee fan aren’t you?
ZT: Well I’ve really got into making my own coffee recently, especially during the circuit breaker when we were all stuck at home. So I started with cold brew – it’s less acidic and you can really taste the flavour of the beans. Today has been been fun learning skills from the professionals at Central Perk – latte art is just as difficult as it looks!
MYAUDIWORLD: How else do you like to relax away from work?
ZT: Basketball has been my favourite sport since I was young – being fairly tall was an advantage, I guess! When I used to play at school my top priority was always on winning the game, but now I see basketball as a good social bonding experience. I love meeting up for some quick pick-up games on a street court. It’s a great way to keep me grounded and connected with old friends.
Feel like a star yourself in the Audi Q2 – available for test drives now at the Audi Centre Singapore. Book yours below.