The multi-talented singer, actor and fashion icon reveals layers to his personality and talent.
Crossover artist, Alvin Chong breaks boundaries as a Malaysian actor, even with his strong Chinese features he still lands roles playing a Malay actor in Malaysian drama TV series. A true definition of Malaysia’s multicultural diversity. Alvin doesn’t stop there. His multi-lingual songs in Chinese, Malay and English have garnered him a truly Malaysian fan base.
As he walks into the studio for his cover shoot with BazaarMan, his mysterious and introverted persona goes straight to work. From various clothes changes and hairstyles, Alvin’s energy picks up on set as he seamlessly poses for the camera, a true natural at it. As we wind down to get to know him better, Alvin opens up and tells us more.
Having grown up in Penang, and moved to KL to focus on his career. Alvin started to appreciate Penang’s slow pace lifestyle and loves how the community is really close-knit. “Everyone knows each other in Penang,” he adds. “And I think people are friendlier. Especially if let’s say you’re out of Penang and if you meet other Penang people, especially at the Hawker Centre if you speak Hokkien, they’ll give you extra stuff without charging you. It feels very homey when you speak Hokkien to other people from Penang,” says Alvin. Penang is a food haven, and Alvin’s top three favourite foods are Prawn mee, Char Kuey Teow with duck eggs and Nasi Kandar.
Alvin recently won Best Supporting Male Performance Actor at the recent 27th Asian Television Awards for his role as Ashraff in the hit drama series ‘She was Pretty’. “The funny story is, the millennial audience sees me as an actor. But I started as a singer first. I didn’t really get recognition as a singer before. And yet, I also don’t quite find myself recognised as a reputable actor. This is only because I get turned down by so many auditions. To the point where I’m scared to go for auditions,” Alvin shares, reflecting on his beginnings. “Just like this nomination I received. I have received many nominations before, but I never won. I didn’t think I was going to win. So I wasn’t going to fly all the way to Manila for the Awards show,” he explains.
Despite the setbacks, Alvin’s dedication and perseverance have paid off with his recent award win. He feels that he doesn’t get much recognition as an actor in Malaysia, but is more well-known in the Asian region. “I think it’s a great achievement. So it pushes me harder to get involved more in acting as well,” he says.
As for his dream role, Alvin is eager to work with international production houses and take on a role alongside international stars Michelle Yeoh and Henry Golding. “The reason is not because they are really famous, I want to know what’s the difference between acting in Malaysia versus working for international production houses.” Alvin is ready to embrace new opportunities and grow as an actor. As for his dream role, Alvin is eager to take on the challenge of playing an antagonist, a really bad one. ” I always play the good guy, because actors are cast based on their looks. So I guess I have a good guy kinda look,” says Alvin.
When asked if he identifies more, as an actor or a singer? his response was “Singing is my passion. And the reason why I will choose singing over anything else is because I like the on-ground connection. The live connection between me and my audience. But as an actor, everything is done behind the scenes while filming. So you don’t have a chance to connect with your audience. With live performances, you get to see your audience. I like to watch people’s reactions when I’m performing. So even acting as well, it’s like performing. But you don’t get to see their reaction.”
Alvin’s Fashion Style
When it comes to fashion, he emphasises his love for simplicity and versatility. “It’s like whether or not you can carry the clothes. And don’t let the clothes carry you. But for me personally, usually, in my closet, it’s just like very simple stuff,” he shares. “I prefer earthy tones, black, white, and beige.”
With over 1.3 million followers on Instagram, Alvin knows a thing or two about the power of social media. “It’s good when you have something to promote, like yourself, movies, business, or your personality,” Alvin admits. “It’s like LinkedIn, but you can choose what to post.”
However, he also acknowledges that social media has its dark side. “People get to compare their life with other people, and we always assume that whatever they’re posting, it’s only the happy moments. And I don’t think that’s true.”
As someone who’s been in the public eye for several years, Alvin has experienced the pressure of maintaining a perfect image. “We just don’t post the worst. We don’t say how much we struggle, not many of us do that. And even if you do that, people feel like you’re doing it for attention.” It’s a struggle that many influencers and celebrities face, as they try to balance their authenticity with the expectations of their fans.
Alvin acknowledges that social media is still an important tool for promoting his music and brand. “It’s very important for us to collect data and see what people are into,” he says. “But when it comes to me personally, I don’t update my IG stories that much anymore, especially when I’m on holiday. Because I want to live in the moment.”
In a world where social media can often feel overwhelming and superficial, Alvin’s commitment to authenticity and honesty is a refreshing reminder that sometimes, the best moments are the ones we don’t share online.
As he continues to navigate the ups and downs of the entertainment industry, Alvin remains focused on his passion for music. “I wrote a lot of original songs last year. I write a lot about my personal experience and my perspective,” he says. “And I hope that people can relate to it. I have no experience with writing songs, but I wanted to try it, and move away from singing demos. I want to write and sing my own songs.”
Alvin has received his fair share of awkward messages in his DMs. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “My mom really likes you.” “Do you want to go out with me?” Alvin chuckles as he recalls these messages. “I stopped reading them at some point because if you start replying to one, you can’t just stop. Then people might feel like you’ve changed.”
Not one to dwell on awkward messages. Instead, he focuses on the three most important things in his life right now: his work, travel, and personal growth. “Money is important but it’s not everything. What’s important is the group of people that I work with. I don’t like toxic environments,” he explains. “I want to see the world and I want to have my own family at some point.”
He’s been busy with upcoming projects that involve flying to Milan and New York for Fashion Week and filming a new mini-TV series in Korea. Alvin has started his own podcast where he talks about topics that are important to him and his guests, such as ADHD and family issues. “We recorded a few episodes already… the reason behind why I wanted do this is because I want to help people who have the same experience, like me. Not many people have a good relationship with their parents. So we’re going to talk about it, Just in case they are lost right now. They can listen in and get advice on what to do.”
The podcast is called R U OK? Alvin’s podcast will be launching in March.
Alvin also recently released his latest track, “One and Only,” a very personal song he co-wrote that talks about his feelings of responsibility and wanting to make sure he can provide for his loved ones. “So this song is about my day, if you look at the lyrics, the lyrics say something about when I get home, I stay in my car for the longest time. I feel like it’s in a safe space because the minute I get out of the car I have to face all the responsibilities of being someone’s son and face work responsibilities. It’s a very personal song with a lot of meaning,” Alvin explains.
Alvin’s career may have its ups and downs, but he’s always looking forward to new beginnings. “This year, I’ll be flying a lot. I’ll be flying to Korea in April. A lot of filming overseas. I’m also releasing my first ever English album.”
As our conversation comes to a close, Alvin leaves us with some advice “Why save the best for later? I think if you have something that you love to do, just keep doing it. And then at some point, you might be able to find a way to make it work for yourself.” As he continues to break barriers and push boundaries, we’re confident that he’ll leave a lasting mark on the industry.