From Pageants To Pandas: Michele Reis Unveils Peonia Jewellery Collection For Charity

People

December 6, 2017 | BY Marianna Cerini

The actress and former beauty queen, who recently designed a stunning jewellery collection for charity, spoke with Tatler about growing up in the spotlight, the importance of family and staying true to yourself

Model, actress and living legend of the Hong Kong silver screen, Michele Reis, has many strings to her bow, and she’s just added another—jewellery designer.

Michele just launched her first collection with jewellery brand Peonia Diamond, which includes a handcrafted panda pendant in white gold set with almost 1,000 white and black diamonds. The collaboration—the Michele x iPANDAS Peonia Diamond Charity Jewellery Collection—was conceived to help fund the JMJ Children’s Charitable Foundation, which Michele founded with her husband, Julian Hui, to support the education of underprivileged children in Hong Kong and the southwest of Mainland China.

We sat down with Michele to talk about the collection and why she left the entertainment world behind to put her family first:

Michele is wearing a dress by Fendi and her Michele x iPandas Peonia Diamond Charity Jewellery Collection necklace (Photo: Simon C)

Why did you choose pandas as a motif in your jewellery line?

My six-year-old son Jayden loves pandas, so I thought why not create a line he could get curious about? And he has. He keeps asking how this little sparkly figurine can help children, and what the charity does.

See also: 5 Tips For Collecting Heritage Jewellery, According To A Certified Gemologist

You won Miss Hong Kong and Miss Chinese International beauty pageant when you were only 18, and went on to star in many movies, which made you a favourite subject in the glossies and gossip magazines. Did the limelight ever feel too much?

When I was younger, it used to be quite overwhelming. I was only a teenager when I started out, so I didn’t really know how the industry works. But I learned to become unfazed by it. You have to if you want to survive in the sector.

Michele wears a coat, heels and handbag by Fendi, and Majesty earrings and Love Petals rings by Peonia Diamond (Photo: Simon C)

Why did you stop acting after marrying Julian Hui in 2008?

My attitude towards the entertainment world really changed then. I decided to take a step back from it all and make Julian, and our home, my main focus. We share the same family values, the same school of thought on how to raise our son, how to be partners. I have a new role, so to speak.

You starred in classics such as A Chinese Ghost Story II (1990), Fallen Angels (1995) and Flowers of Shanghai (1998) and worked with directors such as Tsui Hark and Wong Kar-wai. Would you ever return to the screen?

I don’t think so. I’ve had a fulfilling career but I’m simply onto a new chapter now. A chapter that’s made up of school runs, the foundation, and the occasional social appearance.

Michele wears a dress by Fendi, Morning Peony high jewellery earings and Love Petals rings, all by Peonia Diamond (Photo: Simon C)

What advice would you give aspiring young actresses today? 

Confidence in yourself is essential when your life and work are constantly under scrutiny. Especially as a young woman. It can all get so distracting—the parties, the people, the frenzy around you—but what’s essential is to stay true to yourself. To stay grounded. The rest is just background noise.

We hear an accessory brand has approached you about designing a collection. Are you tempted?

I’ve had a lot of fun working as a designer, but, really, my family is my priority. I want to spend as much time as I can with Jayden. I’m a very hands-on mum. I really cherish my life right now and who I am as a woman. So there’s a lot to consider when offers like that come in. The truth is, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Michele wears a dress and heels by Fendi, Morning Peony high jewellery earrings, Love Petals rings, all by Peonia Diamond (Photo: Simon C)

Find out more about Michele Reis' Michele x iPANDAS Peonia Diamond Charity Jewellery Collection at peonia.com