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TVB's 83-year-old 'Go-To Granny' became an extra at 60 after seeing Andy Lau, Liza Wang and Nancy Sit on TV

Here’s a familiar face that you might remember from TVB dramas over the years.

Hong Kong actress Yang Yiyi, 83, who became known as TVB’s ‘Go-To Granny’ after playing grandmas on multiple TVB dramas over the past 20-odd years, recently sat down for an interview with the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild.

Yiyi, who you may remember from dramas like Best Selling Secrets, Line Walker, Come Home Love: Lo and Behold, Coffin Homes and Time, is actually a nurse by profession.

The Guangzhou native shared that her father is Yang Zijing, an accomplished Cantonese opera writer who worked as the script editor for the troupes at Guangdong Yueju Opera Theater. He also wrote scripts for Cantonese opera performers like Hung Sin Nui and Ma Si Tsang.

She's TVB's favourite granny.

Yiyi revealed that she originally wanted to study under Sin Nui to become an opera performer, but her career choice shot down by her dad.

“He said, in order to become a legitimate fadan, I needed to have 10 years of practice, with a well-developed voice. But in those 10 years, if you don’t study, then you will be uncultured and lacking in knowledge, and will be deemed useless in the future,” Yiyi recalled her dad telling her.

Therefore, she gave up on her dream, and went on to teach in a primary school after graduation. She then moved to Hong Kong in the '80s to work as a nurse. She would go on to be a private nurse until she retired at the age of 60.

Even after retirement, Yiyi dreamt of entering showbiz.

“I saw many Hong Kong graduates, who were registered nurses, who could not find jobs after turning 60. I often watched televison, and saw Andy Lau, Liza Wang, Nancy Sit and the like. They all acted so well, and I really wanted to act too,” she said.

Yiyi with co-stars Kevin Cheng and Charlene Choi.

Finally, her big break came when she was volunteering in a nursing home.

“Once, I was there and I was singing and one of the people there must have been a director, he referred me to get my start in acting. I went to TVB’s eighth floor office to register myself, and the person-in-charge took me for a screen test. I was asked to act out happiness, anger, sadness and pain. I did as told, and I’ve been in TVB as an extra for about 20 years now,” she said.

Yiyi also spoke about her most memorable filming experience, recalling how she was asked to lie in a coffin for a short film that was directed by Hong Kong singer-actress Gigi Leung about 10 years ago.

No qualms at all.

“Many old folk found it inauspicious and refused to do so. When I was told about [the role] shortly after, I said: ‘I’ll do it, I’ll help you’. When I went to the temple, there really was a big coffin there, and they used my photo too, and I did it anyway,” Yiyi said.

The sprightly octogenarian also shared her secret to a healthy life, declaring: “The happier you are, the longer you’ll live!”

She added that she refrains from eating food that is too salty, fatty or sweet. She also ensures that she doesn’t starve nor overindulge.

Apart from that she keeps herself healthy by sleeping well, engaging well with those around her, and trying her best to help those in need.

Keep your eyes peeled for Yiyi in your favourite TVB dramas.

Photos: PBE Media

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