It’s been some five years since life threw Allan Wu a curveball when the American-born Chinese actor, host and former model parted ways with his media personality wife Wong Li-Lin after nine years of marriage and two kids.
Following a lull period, Allan, 46, a FLY Entertainment artiste, returns to the screens in upcoming Toggle series Close Your Eyes. And yes, he is bigger, better, bolder ― and yes, ladies ― more bodylicious than ever.
Best known for hosting The Amazing Race Asia, he talks to SmartParents about life as a jet-setting single dad, raising tweenagers ― son Jonas is 12 and daughter Sage is 14.
What’s it like being a single dad?
Due to my travel and work schedule, I don’t get enough time with them. But when we do hang out, I like that we’re able to spend quality time where we are interacting and staying connected, versus just being in the same room and doing our own respective things. As long as I’m in town, I’ll try to see them almost every single day. It may only be an hour or two sometimes, but I try to make it count.
How do you spend time with the kids?
I enjoy taking them outdoors to be active. We might go running, play basketball, swim or just walk around. I also like to take them to eat and watch movies. Our favourite restaurant is California Pizza and everyone takes turns on what movies they want to watch. We recently watched Moana and Rogue One.
“I really do enjoy watching them learn, develop and mature into people that I know they can become. It truly is a joy and blessing to be a parent and watch your children grow up.”
What do you enjoy the most― and least ― about parenting tweens?
As they become a lot more independent and have discovered their interests and hobbies, they prefer to do their own thing more and more or spend time with their friends, which is normal. However, it’s been an adjustment for me because I was accustomed to spending so much time with them when they were younger.
Still, I really do enjoy watching them learn, develop and mature into people that I know they can become. It truly is a joy and blessing to be a parent and watch your children grow up.
How do you keep yourself relevant to the kids as they get older?
When I’m travelling, I try to update them through WhatsApp on what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been, so that they are still a part of my life ― although Sage hardly replies to my messages [laughs]. When I send them pictures of where I am, I’m also educating them that there is still much to see and learn.
When I’m home, I try to encourage them to share their feelings with me. I also try to spend one-on-one time with each of them and get involved in their interests. Sage is artistic and likes to colour, while Jonas and I play chess, board games or basketball together. Now that they are growing older, I’ll even share my public speaking skills with them sometimes ― it’ll come in handy one day.
How did the kiddos react to the divorce? What about marrying and becoming a father ― again?
How did Sage and Jonas take to the news of the divorce initially?
To the best of my knowledge, my children were not as adversely affected from the divorce as I had initially feared. I think the most important factor to remember is to remind the children that their parents are getting a divorce because of their own issues, and it has nothing to do with the children. Once the children are able to grasp the concept that both their parents love them unconditionally and with everything they’ve got, then they’ll stand a better chance of coming out of it unaffected.
While I wouldn’t say I felt guilty about subjecting my children to the divorce, I did feel for them when they first heard their parents were not going to be together anymore. Therefore, I made an extra effort to spend time with them to reaffirm my love and devotion to them. During that critical juncture, the most important thing was simply being there for my children, and for me nothing else mattered.
What’s it like dating when you have tweens? How supportive are they of you dating?
It’s actually not too bad because they spend more of their time at their mother’s place and I can operate more independently, so it’s quite relaxing [laughs]. I believe they just want both their parents to be happy, and if I were to meet someone that makes me happy, I know they will be supportive.
“I’ve had such an amazing experience being a father ― I wouldn’t mind going through it all once again!”
What qualities do you now look for in a woman?
Actually, they haven’t changed that much. When you fall in love, you are able to accept and overlook certain traits that you normally wouldn’t be as excited about. However, it simply comes down to both parties willing to make the compromises and concessions necessary to continue to make the relationship work. I would like to find someone with certain qualities such as being kind, thoughtful, independent, healthy and also possesses a great sense of humour.
Are you open to marriage and fatherhood again in the future?
Yes, I am open to marriage and fatherhood again. I’ve had such an amazing experience being a father ― I wouldn’t mind going through it all once again!
What kind of a parent would you say you are?
I’d say I’m a goofy and fun-loving dad, but I am also conscientious, so I possess a bit of those “tiger dad” qualities where I want to remind the kids to work hard for a better and fulfilling future. If I could describe myself in a nutshell it would be dedicated, devoted and disciplined. That’s why I place so much importance in fitness. When you work out, it increases your level of discipline, dedication and motivation. The more active you are, the sharper your brain is.
What’s next for this busy man? Click through to find out!
What was it like being back on The Amazing Race Asia?
It was simply… Amazing! It finished airing recently and responses has been overwhelming, so I hope to be doing that again next year. I’m currently working on a travel infotainment show for StarHub called “Let’s do This Together” where I travel around the world to partake in different cultural events. It’s already taken me to Peru, Spain and France. In the next few months, I’ll be heading to Japan and Mount Everest. Once that’s done, I’ll be getting set for the exciting fourth season of The Amazing Race China. This one will be the celebrity edition and it will feature stars like Fan Bingbing.
“I’d say I’m a goofy and fun-loving dad… I possess a bit of those “tiger dad” qualities where I want to remind the kids to work hard for a better and fulfilling future.”
You are obviously a fitness buff. How do keep fit with such a demanding schedule?
I believe being active and fit is as important as academics. Life is all about striking the right balance, and there’s no point in focusing on only one aspect. I make an effort to work out five days per week when I am in town, otherwise, I play sports with the kids.
The kids are quite sporty. Sage is on the basketball and track team. Jonas is on the basketball team and plays squash. Together, we enjoy skiing in Colorado. From a very young age, I’ve always encouraged them to be active and healthy, and participating in sports is a great way to keep their interest level up.
How do you keep yourself motivated during your workouts?
With my favourite tech gadgets! I have an Apple Watch Nike+, and I crank up Sia’s Unstoppable and listen to it on either my Sony waterproof headphones or Sudio Vasa earbud headphones.
Photography: Kelvin Chia
Art direction: Lim Jae-Lynn
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