- Aug 19, 1972
- Hong Kong
Bio: Sammi Cheng Sau-Man is a Hong Kong actress and Cantopop singer. With much success in the Hong Kong music industry, Sammi became one of Hong Kong's pop divas. She also has a successful film career, particularly in the romantic comedy genre. Her goofy, sometimes scatterbrained image has gone done well with Chinese audiences. In 2000 she made a series of romantic… More
Bio: Sammi Cheng Sau-Man is a Hong Kong actress and Cantopop singer. With much success in the Hong Kong music industry, Sammi became one of Hong Kong's pop divas. She also has a successful film career, particularly in the romantic comedy genre. Her goofy, sometimes scatterbrained image has gone done well with Chinese audiences. In 2000 she made a series of romantic comedies with singer/actor Andy Lau and director Johnnie To, including Needing You (2000) and Love on a Diet (2001), which were hits and incorporate some elements of screwball comedy.
Sammi Cheng was previously named Twinnie Cheng. Contrary to popular belief, "Twinnie" is not her birth name. The name came about when Sammi was still schooling and her English Language teacher wanted everyone in class to have an English name. When Sammi turned to her sister for help, her sister came up with the name "Twinnie". The name was later changed to "Sammi" as "Sammi" sounded a little like "Sau Man".
Sammi Cheng Sau Man entered the entertainment industry through a high profile, annual TV singing contest, New Talent Singing Awards in 1988, when she was only 16. Although she came third in the competition, the sponsoring record company, "Capital Artist", saw potential in Sammi and offered her a recording contract. At the time, Sammi was still in school, so she had to balance her studies with her growing singing career. Before finishing school, Sammi had managed to release 3 full-length studio albums: Sammi, Holiday and Never Too Late. The sales of each of these albums surpassed the previous one. Holiday, which was released in 1992, surprised many by managing to stay on the Top 10 Albums of the Week Sales Chart for a record-setting 10 weeks (despite merely lurking around in the bottom half of the chart). The gross sales of these albums were considered successful for a new artist, but didn't launch Sammi onto the playing field of A-list artists.
In 1993, Sammi realized that in order to go from a top B-list artist to an A-list artist, she had to create a unique image for herself. At the time, another rising female artist, Faye Wong, had started a wild and crazy fashion trend in the music industry. Capitalizing on the attention she had been getting from her duet with a A-list artist Andy Hui, "其實你心裡有沒有我" (Do you really have me in your heart?), Sammi went through a complete 180-degree transformation; she dyed her hair orange, purposely 'westernized' her pronunciation of Chinese and successfully toned her physique. At that time, dying your hair was only popular among street gangsters and it was a 'taboo' for artists to try to look rebellious. Sammi then came out with her 4th studio album, "鄭秀文的快樂迷宮" (Sammi's Happy Maze), which included the hit single, "Chotto 等等" (Chotto Matte). Her new image fitted well with the new single, which was a remake of a very upbeat Japanese song by Maki Ohguro. The success helped Sammi boosted her singing career making her almost an A-lister.
In 1994, Sammi continued to capitalize on her wild, new image. Her first album of that year was "大報復" (Big Revenge). The album included the mega hit "叮噹" (Ding Dong), which became one of Sammi's all-time signature songs. But with her new fame also came a lot of backlash from the media. Critics pointed out that Sammi purposely "westernized" her Cantonese: instead of saying "Ding Dong", Sammi pronounced it as "Deen Dong". Despite the criticism, the song was one of most popular dance songs of that year. Throughout the rest of 1994, Sammi continued to release hit single after hit single, such as: Ten Commandments, Not Your Typical Love, Passion Island, Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo, Amnesia and Bitter Love. The racy and controversial cut of Ten Commandments (which includes tiny bits of what can be recognized as a porn soundtrack) was banned from the radio a few days after its initial airplay. Of course, with prohibition came another level of attention and fame for Sammi. Her savvy way of handling the controversy and the media in the midst of that incident was arguably a confirmation to music industry insiders that Sammi was here to stay.
In the beginning of 1995, Sammi did not renew her contract with Capital Artists. The record company reacted by putting her on the sidelines, using marketing resources previously dedicated to promoting her to promote the labels' other artists. Sammi disappeared from the public eye for nearly half a year. Later in that year, it was revealed that Warner Music had signed Sammi as their recording artist. Sammi wanted a fresh start. She let her hair color return to black and temporarily abandoned the wild image she used to have.
Her first album with Warner Music, "Can't Give You Up - 捨不得你" was extremely well received by the public. That album released 3 hit singles, "Gentlemen, you are so fine today - 男仕今天你很好", "Can't Give You Up - 捨不得你", and "The Mourning Song for Love - 愛的輓歌". In that same year, Panasonic also signed Sammi as their spokesperson for their latest CD walkman, using "Can't Give You Up - 捨不得你" as the theme song for their CD Player's TV Spot. It turned out to be a huge success for both Panasonic and Sammi. The song gained tremenous airplay and its popularity boosted Sammi straight back into the spotlight. The album and the singles swept most of the big awards in that year's annual music award shows. "Can't Give You Up" won the honour of Best Single of the Year at almost all of the year-ending music awards show in 1995. With "Can't You Give Up", Sammi became a household name in Hong Kong.
In 1996, Warner Music decided it was time for Sammi to expand her market and fan base beyond Hong Kong. They released her first Mandarin album, "Worth It - 值得". The album remains one of the best selling albums for a new artist in the Taiwanese market. The song "Worth It - 值得" also gained tremendous amount of airplay in many Mandarin speaking countries. During the summer blockbuster season, Sammi also launched her career on the big screen with the romantic comedy, "Feel 100% - 百分百感覺", with Ekin Cheng and Gigi Leung. This movie was a huge box office success with its great appeal towards the 20-something demograph. In conjunction with her newfound success on the big screen, Warner Music released Sammi's second album, "Can't Let Go - 放不低". The album was a huge success with hit singles, "Beware of Women - 小心女人", "Can't Let Go - 放不低" and "Owe Nothing - 不拖不欠". Panasonic decided to use Sammi's latest hit of that year "Can't Let Go - 放不低" to be the theme song for another TV spot for their latest CD walkman.
With the pop divas such as Sally Yeh and Faye Wong prioritizing their family life over their music career, the HK music industry was eagerly looking for the next pop diva. In the mid-1990s, Cass Pang (who also later decided to prioritize her family life over her singing career), Amanda Lee (who unfortunately spent her entire fortune on her concert and daily wardrobe and went nowhere after several years of relatively successful career), Vivian Chow and Sammi Cheng were considered to be the candidates as the next top pop diva. In order to secure her place among the competitions, Sammi finished her much successful year with her first concert, titled "Sammi's X-Dimension Concert - 鄭秀文X空間演唱會". The concert was very successful and Sammi created unforgettable styles by doning the Nike swoosh-shaped eyebrow, the Golden Bra and the Big Rose. At the same time of the concert, she released her last album of 1996, "Deep Passion - 濃情" which produced more hit singles such as "X Party - X派對", "Tacit Agreement - 默契", "The Angel of Calcutta, Mother Teresa - 加爾各答的天使-德蘭修女", "Let's Talk About Love (duet with Sally Yeh) - 談情說愛" and "Hesitation - 猶豫". By the time the year-end music award shows come around, Sammi came out as the biggest winner with her very first, "Most Popular Female Artist of the Year", "Top 5 Best Selling Artists of the Year", "Top Selling Female Artist of the Year" and also an accolade of awards for her singles, "Can't Let Go", "Owe Nothing", "Worth It" and "Tacit Agreement".
By the time 1997 rolled around, Sammi's status as the top pop diva in Hong Kong is confirmed. She started out the year with a brand new Mandarin album, "Waiting For You - 為你等". She followed that up a couple of months later with another new Cantonese album, "Our Theme Song - 我們的主題曲". Both of these albums were very successful. Continuing to spawn out hit singles one after another, Sammi made her 4th movie, "Killing Me Tenderly - 愛您愛到殺死您" with Leon Lai. Many singles from "Our Theme Song" can be found in the movie. Shortly after the release of her movie, Warner Music announced Sammi's second concert, titled "Sammi Star Show" and her last Cantonese album of the year, "The Language of Living - 生活語言". Sammi broke the record for being the only artist to host two concerts within a year. The concert was well received and like her first concert, she donned more styles like the black shiny bra, the devil's horns and the leaf bra. Toward the end of the year, Sammi once again dominated the award shows.
During the slump in the HK film industry of the late 1990s, Sammi Cheng staged a box office revolution by starring in the film 孤男寡女 - Needing You, helmed by acclaimed director Johnny To and co-starring Andy Lau, in 2000. The film, raked in HKD 6.5 million during its 1st 3 days of opening in Hong Kong, and amassed a total of HKD 35 million in Hong Kong alone, rivaling Mission Impossible II which screened during the same period in Hong Kong and triumphing all other Hong Kong films screened for the past few years. In the same year, 夏日的麼麼茶 - Summer Holiday earned HKD 21 million, which was ranked 2nd best-selling local film after Needing You in Hong Kong.
Although Sammi Cheng starred in movies like Feel 100%... Once More, which raked in more than HKD 40 million in 1996, the success of Needing You, amidst the gloom and doom in Hong Kong film industry at the turn of the century, was seen as the light at the end of the tunnel by many in the industry.
Following the success of Needing You, Sammi went on to star in more box office hits like (Summer Holiday, 2000), 鍾無艷 - (Wu Yen, 2001), 瘦身男女 - (Love on a Diet, 2001), 嫁個有錢人 - (Marry a Rich Man, 2002), 我左眼見到鬼 - (My Left Eye Sees Ghost, 2002) and many more, including the latest film, 長恨歌 - (Everlasting Regret, 2005), which earned her a nomination for Best Actress in the critically acclaimed Venice Film Festival.
In 2001 (and Hong Kong) alone, the movies Sammi starred in raked in a total of HKD 85 million, making her the best-selling actress of the year, falling behind Andy Lau with only HKD 3 million. She lost the title in the years after (except in 2004), some say due to her taking on less movies. In terms of box office per movie, she has maintained the accolade among Chinese actresses of having movies hit an average of HKD 22 million in 2003.
As a testament to her new title of Queen of Box Office, movie investors were willing to pay her as much as HKD 5.5 million to star in a movie, which was a 7-fold increase from her taking on as the role of Kinki in 孤男寡女, and placed her among one of the most highly sought-after actresses seen in the Chinese film industry.
There was even a report which stated that Sammi Cheng was the best-selling HK actress with a box-office taking of HK 360 million during the decade between 1997 and 2007.
Following her comeback in 2007, Sammi Cheng is poised to claim her long-lost reigning position in the Hong Kong film industry when she starts filming for her new movies at year-end.
Sammi re-invented herself once again, and held her 6th concert in HK from 18 to 25 May 2007 titled "Show Mi" ('Mi' being the nickname of SamMI given by her fans). Due to the huge demand for the tickets, the concert went from four performances to eight. The concert was both commercially and critically successful. According to news sources, many audience members stood up, cheered and danced along with Sammi throughout the entire performance. At the end of the first show, audience members continued to shout 'encore' for 15 minutes until Sammi came back out and sang "Our Theme Song - 我們的主題曲". She recently rededicated her life to be a born again Christian and has quit smoking in late 2007.
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