HONG KONG — Named one of the world’s most intriguing billionaire heiresses by Forbes magazine, singer and thesp Josie Ho Chiu-yee recently demonstrated her acting chops in Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion.”
Her father, Stanley Ho Hung-sung, is one of the world’s richest men, with a multibillion-dollar fortune from casinos in Macau. (He helped transform the former Portuguese colony into a gaming enclave that now does more business than Las Vegas.)
Josie Ho has done more than 30 movies and has four pics opening in the next few months, including Johnnie To’s latest, “Motorway.” Next year, she’ll star in Hany Abu Assad’s “The Courier” opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mickey Rourke and Til Schwieger.
She has made seven albums, and in July released “Third Eye” in China, where her band, Josie Ho & the Uni Boys, tours frequently.
All of this came despite serious opposition to her going on stage — traditional Chinese families frown on performers.
“My family is really strict coming from the finance world, really traditional. It’s not like they don’t respect art, but old Chinese people look at actors and performers, and think they are from a lower class,” she says.But she got a taste of the biz bug when she was 17 and her father asked her to take part in the Miss Macau beauty pageant — he was short on competitors.
“I said no,” she recalls. “I weighed 130 pounds and was 5 foot 3, and I don’t like to show myself in a bathing costume. But my sisters said, ‘Turn this into an opportunity and ask dad if you can sing.’ ”
To escape her family’s shadow, Ho took off for Taiwan as a warbler. When she returned to Hong Kong she landed a movie role.
“I didn’t even know where the camera was,” she says. “But the market was good (and) I got more and more movies. Then I got really serious about acting.”
Despite wealth and family feuds, Ho say she’s proud of her independence. “I can make enough for myself.”