Thu, Aug 26, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Janet takes off

She’s an MIT graduate and former model who once planned to become a doctor, but globe-trotting television show host Janet Hsieh remains appealingly down to earth

By Catherine Shu  /  STAFF REPORTER

That helped out when about a month later the same agency called me and asked me if I wanted to come back. It was a really tough decision because I’d been accepted to medical school. I asked them if I could defer for a year and they said no, you have to reapply. I gave myself three years, because I retook the MCAT [Medical College Admission Test] before I came back to Taiwan and the [results were valid for] three years. At that point my Mandarin was still pretty bad, so I wanted to improve and just see what the entertainment industry is like. I had high hopes for myself. I obviously didn’t want to come back here and just do underwear commercials. I was hoping it was a stepping-stone to acting work. At the three-year mark, it was starting to get frustrating. It was very up and down.

TT: At that point, were you still doing mostly modeling?

JH: Yeah. You get a commercial about once a month, if you are lucky. The rest of the time, I was occupied with learning Mandarin. I also did a little bit of teaching, I played in orchestras, I took random classes, like belly dancing and hip-hop. I had to leave every six months [because of visa requirements] and I would shoot to go somewhere pretty far, like India and Thailand. But after three years, I’d had enough and I was ready to go back to school or join the Peace Corps. I was saying good-bye to my friends, one of whom is Little S [小S, also known as Dee Hsu (徐熙娣)] and we talked a bit. She asked me, “What do you really want to do?” I told her, “I’d love to travel and I’d love to be on TV, but there’s no such job as that.” And she said, “Oh, that’s a travel show host!”

I’d never considered it before. I thought, whoa, that would be really cool! She introduced me to her producer and her producer happened to know my current producer, who was doing auditions, and then wham! That’s what happened. I auditioned for Fun Taiwan.

TT: What kind of memories do you have from the first Fun Taiwan episode you filmed?

JH: I had no idea what we were doing. I would walk parallel to guests and block everyone, so the crew said, “Hey Janet, take a step back or walk slower.” So I would walk really slow and then they would go, “No, no, no, you don’t have to walk that slow.”

Two episodes later, my producer was telling me how to guide people. As a host, you are supposed to guide guests to say certain things without looking like you are guiding. He said, ask them to lead you, or yindao (引導). I was like, okay, yindao, I can do that. So we started to film. I was interviewing an old man, a surfer, and rather than saying please yindao (引導) me to the beach, I said yindao (陰道), which means vagina. Everyone was like, “Cut! Cut! Janet, you can’t say that, you can’t say ‘please vagina me to the beach!’” Oh, oops!

There was another time when we were filming in Penghu. Again, it was with another older guy and we were going to catch some seafood to make fried rice. I was like, “Okay, we have enough seafood now,” and I told the guest, “Let’s go fry rice!” or women qu chaofan (我們去炒飯)! But you know what that means! Basically, I’m telling all these old men “Can you vagina me to the beach?” and “Let’s go have sex!” I had no idea what I was saying, but it was a really, really fun experience.

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