An HBO GO series for thrill-seeking fans
The 30-episode hour-long detective drama is a Mandarin adaptation of the globally popular Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
An HBO GO series for thrill-seeking fans
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

Airing exclusively on HBO GO since Oct. 5 is the network’s original 30-episode series Miss S, with two episodes every weekday. Directed by Deng Ke (When We Were Young, Fly Me to Venus), Miss S is the Mandarin adaptation of the globally popular Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, starring award-winning actress Ma Yili (The First Half of My Life, Struggle, My Fair Princess 3) as the eponymous protagonist a.k.a. Su Wenli, a beautiful and witty socialite who forms an unlikely crime-solving tandem with the righteous and serious inspector Luo Qiuheng, played by Vengo Gao Weiguang (Ghost Blowing Light, Harmony). Despite their opposing personalities, they manage to crack numerous cases together and share an undeniable chemistry.

Set in the 1930s, the series starts with Su Wenli’s return to Shanghai after studying in Paris. While visiting her old schoolmate, she learns that her schoolmate’s husband is found dead. Su Wenli interferes with the investigation including that of the disappearance of her younger sister a decade ago.

Stay tuned and watch as the mystery unravels.

Here are excerpts of an exclusive interview with Ma Yili:

Ma Yili with Miss S leading man Vengo Gao Weiguang: Unraveling mysteries together

What attracted you to the role? Have you ever tried a role like Su Wenli?

“I was so intrigued by the character Su Wenli, I fell in love with the script. I’ve never tried a role like this, that’s why I was attracted to it. Su Wenli is a happy, easy-going woman who exudes positivity. She isn’t perfect. At times, she uses emotional reasoning when solving crimes. She’s a very real person, that’s what I really like about her.”

You play a coquettish detective, who has a love for form-fitting qipaos. How do you differ from your character? How did you prepare for the role?

“This character is an ideal woman in my heart. She’s easy-going, genuine and brave. Some of her character traits are similar to mine — her humour and steadfastness in achieving her goals. But I’m not as brave as her.

“I didn’t do much to prepare for this role because I had two years to digest the script. During the two years, I fleshed out the character in my mind and visualised her multiple times. By the time filming started, I was very certain how I would portray the character.”

You had a number of action scenes, from dancing to chasing after the villains with a gun. Which scenes were a challenge?

“The dance scene, we improvised on the spot. We had multiple takes, so it was tiring.

“The original script had more action scenes, but I suggested to the director that we remove them. Because I felt that Miss S shouldn’t be perfect. To make her real, she can’t be good at everything. If not, why would she need Detective Luo’s help? She’s in charge of the fun. Detective Luo is in charge of protecting her.”

What was your biggest challenge during filming?

“I almost couldn’t finish reading the crime-solving script because it scared me. When I read scripts, I imagine the scenarios in my head. I had to muster my courage to finish reading the script. It took me a long time. That was my biggest challenge.”

How did you manage to go through the entire script?

“I had no choice. I have to act, so I had to force myself to finish reading the script. I tried not to think about the corpses, how the victims died, the frightening scenes. The scenarios aren’t that scary, but I could picture them vividly in my mind.”

You’ve portrayed strong female characters, such as in the dramas The First Half of My Life and Swan Dive For Love. Su Wenli is a woman, who uses her feminine charms to get her way. How do you think Su Wenli compares to the strong woman roles you’ve played in the past?

“The biggest difference is that Su Wenli knows when to feign weakness or flirt playfully to get her way. She knows how to use her womanly charms to achieve her goal. I find this trait of hers adorable, it shows that she’s herself. In real life, I’m not a tease. So it’s pretty thrilling playing her.”

Your character Su Wenli returned to Shanghai after spending some time in Paris. Did you do any research on these overseas-based Shanghainese who returned to their hometown?

“I’m a true Shanghai native, I was born and bred there. Since I became an actress, I craved to play the role of a lady living in the 1930s Shanghai. By far, this is my favorite portrayal of such a character. I didn’t have to do much research because Shanghai was where I spent a large portion of my life. I grew up with a plethora of media content from the 1930s — movies, women’s literature and news reports. The literary culture and artistry hold a special place in my heart.”

There are comments that your acting was over-the-top in Miss S. What do you have to say?

“I chose to portray my role in a dramatic fashion. To me, my character is magical and ideal. The Shanghai of the 1930s was known as the Paris of the East. It was a magical era. The people of that time spoke, acted and dressed in a formal manner. That’s why I had to act in dramatic fashion. It’s not your typical detective show.”

Did anything fun happen on set with your co-star Vengo Gao?

“When we started filming, Vengo was shy and nervous. But within a few days, he warmed up quickly. A lot of the scenes between us were improvised, we ad-libbed a lot. It was loads of fun. There were many times when we laughed so hard, we couldn’t continue acting and had many outtakes.”

What can audiences anticipate from this drama?

“I’m confident this drama will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s an easy watch. We had lots of fun filming, and we hope audiences feel the same way. Female audiences can have fun imagining themselves as Su Wenli.

“Our story is set in the 1930s in Shanghai. The magical city became known as the Paris of the East. It was a definitive era for Shanghai, what was in vogue then is still trendy today. I believe audiences would be curious about that period. The 1930s was a very modern era.”

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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