Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Singer overcomes lifetime of hurdles for special role

TAKEN AT FACE VALUE:Before her performance in the TV show ‘Million Star,’ Angel Tseng was often rejected by talent shows because of her appearance

Staff writer, with CNA

Singer Angel Tseng attends an event in Taipei on Sunday to promote the “Don’t Tag Me!” exhibition organized by the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation-Taiwan.

Photo courtesy of the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation-Taiwan

Atayal singer Angel Tseng (曾宇辰), who is to sing the theme song of this year’s Summer Universiade during the opening ceremony, on Sunday promoted the Don’t Tag Me! exhibition organized by the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation-Taiwan by sharing her experience of overcoming discrimination because of her appearance.

Tseng, 26, was born with a cleft lip and palate, and craniofacial deformity, which led her to be discriminated and called “devil” during her childhood.

Tseng and her six-member band I-Want in November last year beat 264 other groups to win the chance to perform the games’ theme song, Embrace the World.

In 2015, she won the hearts of the audience and judges of TV talent show Million Star (星光大道) with her “angel-like singing.”

In interviews, Tseng has talked about her congenital cleft lip and palate and craniofacial deformity, and about how she underwent craniofacial surgery for the first time at four months of age.

Tseng has had more than 20 operations, including one to replace her left eye with an artificial one because of dysplasia, a cell growth condition, she said.

“Luckily, my mom and dad have never seen me as peculiar,” Tseng said.

Thanks to her parents, Tseng said she never thought she was “different” until she attended kindergarten and went grocery shopping with her mother at a local market.

A child on the road had pointed at her, shouting: “That person looks like a devil,” Tseng said.

The word shocked her and hurt her deeply, but her parents had always told her that she was as normal as other people, and that she should stand in front of people with confidence, because she had done nothing wrong, she said..

“Why flinch?” her parents used to ask her, she said.

Being shunned, mocked and given hurtful nicknames by her classmates was part of Tseng’s daily life during her school years, she said.

However, “my mother told me not to call people names in response, but instead to give them a big smile,” Tseng said.

Tseng said that because she loved to sing, her father would often take her to sing in karaoke parlors, but he was opposed to her decision to make singing a career.

Her appearance led to her being ruled out during preliminary interviews for singing contests and not even geting a chance to perform, she said.

Tseng’s father said he used to fear she would experience even more discrimination and frustration than she did in childhood if she were to stand on a big stage.

However, watching her become braver and more fearless each time she suffered a setback, he changed his mind and became more supportive of his girl’s dream, he said.

Knowing that his daughter is to stand on the grand stage of the Taipei Universiade, Tseng’s father said he never dreamed that there would be so many people supporting her.

“She is braver than me,” he added.

Don’t Tag Me! features virtual reality installations that tell the story of exclusion by peers and the feelings of isolation experienced by people with craniofacial disorders. The protagonist is Tseng herself.

The exhibition, which runs through tomorrow, is being held at Warehouse No. 4 of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei. Admission is free.

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