The current leading ladies of the Asian entertainment industry are formidable forces in their own right with their individual brands of specialties and capabilities. Many have become well-recognised household names, due to their relentless efforts in putting on various hats to cater to the growing demands of the industry in the midst of its highly competitive nature. Though many have found fame as big screen stars or as runway luminaries, some have stayed on in front of the television camera where their magic began. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a look at its list of the continents’ top television presenters (presented in random order) who continue to charm and inspire the masses with their wit and wisdom.
Born in Singapore and raised in Australia, Simone Heng began her career as a VJ for Channel V in 2005 before being appointed as the first face of HBO Asia soon after. Currently she is one of the most prominent television and radio personalities in the Gulf city of Dubai. This global citizen’s well-trained voice, her flair for the camera and her capability to put everyone around her at ease saw her being poached from Singapore’s Power 98FM by Kiwi Steve in 2008. That was when Simone joined Richard Branson’s Virgin Radio International franchise, the 104.4 Virgin Radio Dubai – a stint which has garnered the part-time actress numerous awards including being named by Elle Arabia and Chanel Middle East as one of their 2013 “It Women”.
A rose amongst the thorns in the industry of sport commentating, GQ magazine did not exaggerate one bit when they called Archana Vijaya “the best thing to happen to cricket since the IPL.” Although the princess of cricket’s first foray into the entertainment industry was as a VJ on Channel V, she quickly rose up the ranks to become a cricket presenter, an enormous responsibility in cricket-keen India. Besides being given the esteemed mandate of hosting the prestigious Indian Premier League for cricket numerous times including in 2014 due to popular demand, Archana is also a recipient of the Best Television Presenter (Female) award at the Indian Television Awards.
The only Singaporean to be selected an MTV VJ during her time, Belinda Lee spent a total of five years in the music channel’s Mandarin segment before joining Mediacorp, Singapore’s leading broadcast station, as a variety host. Aside from hosting entertainment programmes, the quick-witted lass also proved herself capable of handling heavier subjects when she hosted Channel News Asia’s Show Me the Money and her renowned travelogue Find Me a Singaporean, in which she goes to foreign lands in search of fellow Singaporeans. A talented actress who has appeared in many well-received movies such as Katong Miss Oh and Room In My Heart, Belinda won the Best Info-Ed Host award in 2009 Star Awards.
Former beauty queen Cindy Burbridge was born in Bangkok to an American father and an English-Thai-Indian mother and raised in Pattaya. Taught to dive by her diving instructor father from an early age, Cindy’s first modelling assignment was for a commercial shot in water for a diving equipment shop. Soon after, she won the Miss Thailand Word title in 1996 and was given the honour of representing her country in the international competition. A popular TV and event host, actress and model in her country, the Bangkok University graduate has hosted both variety shows such as the V Smash Hits and hard-hitting documentaries such as Nautical Angels.
One of the pioneer VJs of MTV Asia back in 1995, Nadya Yuti Hutagalung was born in Indonesia to a local father and an Australian mother. Modelling by the age of 12, the supermodel had already honed her on-screen charisma when the opportunity to entertain over 70 million households across Asia via MTV came along. A self-proclaimed ‘eco-warrior’, the host of Asia’s Next Top Model also designs her own line of eco-centric jewellery line and champions various conservation efforts, through which she was nominated for The International Green Awards: Most Responsible International Celebrity in 2012, alongside other eco-conservationists like George Clooney and Penelope Cruz.
Variety show veteran Dee Hsu, more commonly known as Xiao S or Little S, first started out in the entertainment business not as a host but rather a pop singer with her sister, Barbie Hsu in a duo called S.O.S. (Sisters of Shu) before changing name to A.S.O.S. later in their career. In 1998, the Taiwanese vocalist was given the opportunity to present Guess Guess Guess, the internationally-renowned variety show thanks to her quick-wit and biting humour. Later, in 2004, Hsu went on to host her own comedy talk show called KangXi Lai Le with fellow friend Kevin Tsai, for which they were awarded Best Host in a Variety Programme at the 40th Golden Bell Awards in 2005.
Born and raised in Shanghai, the famous host acclaimed for her work in China Central Television began her career in the country’s other leading TV stations such as Zheijang TV and Shanghai Oriental TV before starting in CCTV in 2002. An alumnus of Shanghai Theatre Academy where she majored in broadcast, and East China Normal University, Dong Qing has hosted the CCTV New Year’s Gala from 2005 till now. Throughout her career, she has won the Gold Mike Award for Television in 2001 and 2006, besides receiving the Golden Eagle Award for Best Programme Host in 2006 as well.
Born Celestine Cruz Gonzaga but better known as Toni Gonzaga, the Filipino television host, singer and actress began her career in GMA Network, one of the country’s oldest television and radio network before moving on to another renowned network, the ABS-CBN in 2005. Besides hosting some of the most popular TV programmes in the country such as the entertainment talk show The Buzz, the reality shows Pinoy Big Brother and The Voice of the Philippines, Toni has also released six studio albums to date as an established singer, including Celestine which was released early this year.
Anjali Rao is a multi-award-winning journalist, who has spent 18 years in the top tiers of broadcast news and current affairs. Anjali spent six years as anchor of CNN International’s weekday breakfast show and host of the network’s weekly chat show, Talk Asia, both of which air globally to 220 million households. Earlier, she worked as an anchor at both Sky News and Channel 5 News in London. She has interviewed some of the world’s highest profile personalities including former US President Bill Clinton, actors Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow, pop star Rihanna and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld – among countless others. She has also covered numerous breaking news events, such as the 9/11 attacks, the 2004 Asian tsunami and the death of Pope John Paul. Born to an Indian father and Australian mother, Anjali was raised in Hong Kong, and educated in the United Kingdom.
Known as the “hostess with the mostest”, Stephanie Carrington is one of the most sought-after TV personalities in Asia for her capability to host any event, be it a red carpet gala or a sports match. The current face of the RTL CBS Asia Entertainment Network, the bi-racial presenter fluent in both English and Korean has hosted the grand Singapore Audi Fashion Festival in 2010 and 2013, besides reporting live as the official F1 Paddock host for the Singapore F1 Grand Prix in both 2012 and 2013. A seasonal actress, Stephanie has also appeared in productions such as Parental Guidance 2 and The Pupil.