Josie Ho ‘anxious about getting old’, says she’s the ‘OG Crazy Rich Asian’

SINGAPORE – The wildest of his wild-child days may be behind him.

But Josie Ho still has no doubts about speaking her mind, including how she should be cast in the hit Hollywood romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians (2018).

The 48-year-old Hong Kong actress-singer, who was in town on July 17 to attend a special screening of the Sarawak, Malaysia-set period film Rajah (2023) that she starred in and produced, tells The Straits Times: “I wonder why Crazy Rich Asians didn’t approach me. I’m the OG.”

When it comes to being rich, Ho is definitely an OG – Internet slang for “original gangster”, which refers to those seen as pioneers or originators.

As the youngest daughter of the late Hong Kong billionaire casino tycoon Stanley Ho and his second wife Lucina Lam, she grew up in a world of one-percenters, hooking up with socialites like American reality television star Paris Hilton.

He died at the age of 98 in 2020 and had four wives who gave him 17 children.

The eldest daughter of Stanley Ho and Lam, Pansy, 60, is a businesswoman who has taken over a large part of her father’s businesses – which also include interests in the property, transport and hospitality sectors – becoming the most successful and well-known of her large brood.

Josie Ho’s other siblings from her mother – sisters Daisy, 59, and Maisy, 56; as well as their younger brother Lawrence, 47 – is also involved in the family businesses.

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When asked if Crazy Rich Asians was an accurate representation of the luxury lifestyle, he referred to a wedding scene shot in Chijmes in Singapore.

“Somewhat similar, but I’ve never seen water on the floor at a church wedding, so maybe it’s not that crazy. But (like the movie), it’s a lot of people getting drunk, mahjong and bad aunties.

Although Ho’s own life is not enough for a movie, he said that his famous family could make a reality television show a la American series Keeping Up With The Kardashians (2007 to 2021).

“If we did that, we’d make a *** ton of money,” he said. “I don’t think everyone in my family is ready to do it, but if you tell them how much money they can make, they might change their minds.”

But who will be Kim Kardashian, the queen of reality television (and her family), among the offspring of the magnate?

“It must be Pansy,” Ho said, before laughing. “He really is Kim. He’s the boss.”

On why she charted her own path, Ho says: “I don’t want to look like them (my siblings). I just felt like I could do my own thing, do something different, something crazier, something more fun.

Ho’s rock-chick street cred was established with her punk rock band Josie & The Uni Boys and her bold, edgy style – sporting blunt bob haircuts, leather jackets and thick eyeliner.

He also made his mark in films such as the sex comedy Naked Ambition (2003) and Johnnie To’s action drama Exiled (2006).

Speaking about his late parents – Lam died in 2022 – Ho said: “My father always supported me, but my mother was traditional. She wanted me to bring home successes. She used to read newspapers and was angry because the tabloids always made me feel bad.

“She was a very good woman and she wanted her daughters to behave well as well.”

Hong Kong singer-actress Josie Ho’s rock-chick street cred was established with her punk rock band Josie & The Uni Boys and her bold, edgy style. PHOTO: Courtesy of Josie Ho

Despite Ho’s rebellious nature, his mother always rooted for him.

When Ho was double-nominated for best supporting actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards for The Twins Effect (2003) and Naked Ambition – she eventually won for the latter – the old lady was on the edge of her seat.

“I was the dark horse that year. I thought she would care, but her maid told my maid that she was clutching a cushion really tightly when she was watching the awards ceremony at home, waiting for the winner to be announced. And when they said my name, he jumped for joy.”

Ho became even more involved in the film.

She founded the production company 852 Films with her Hong Kong actor-producer husband Conroy Chan, whom she married in 2003.

She has been taking care of him since he suffered a “fatal illness” in 2022, though he refuses to name his condition.

The couple, who have no children, have made films in and out of Hong Kong such as Rajah, action movie Habit (2021) and sports comedy Full Strike (2015).

Rajah – a retelling of the 19th-century story of Sir James Brooke, a British soldier who founded the Raj of Sarawak and ruled as the White Rajah – does not yet have a release date in Singapore.

Ho also played a brothel madam in Singaporean director Eric Khoo’s erotic drama In The Room (2015), which saw her wearing underwear and having sex.

“It was my sexiest movie to date,” she recalled. “It’s good and I did it before. Now, I have a tummy and things are sagging, but at least that earlier era of me is preserved on film.”

She admitted: “I’m anxious about getting older. When I was in my 20s, my figure was better, but we couldn’t win [against] gravity.”

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


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