Jack Neo, is a Singaporean film and television actor, host and director. He is best known for his cross-dressing roles, as Liang Po Po (literally: Granny Liang) and Liang Xi Mei in the late 1990s television comedy show Comedy Nite.
Neo found his calling when at the age of 14, when he wrote and acted in a comedy skit for Tanjong Katong Secondary School.
Neo started his career on television in 1980 and became one of the most successful and recognisable celebrities in Mediacorp for his comedic roles on both film and television. His two most notable cross-dressing roles on film and television are Liang Po Po and Liang Xi Mei, both skits in the long-running comedy variety show Comedy Nite. Neo made his directorial debut in That One Not Enough (1999) and he set up his own artiste management company, J Team Productions, whose members include comedians Mark Lee, Henry Thia and John Cheng.
Neo's films satirise several aspects about Singapore in comical ways, including societal issues such as negligent parenting and school corporal punishment, and foreign issues such as the water disputes between Singapore and Malaysia. Apart from his film and TV career, Neo has also recorded and produced a number of albums.
Neo received the Best Director Award at the Silver Screen Awards in 1998 for his short film and was also awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award in the following year in recognition of his contributions to Singapore's media industry. Since then, he became a filmmaker and created his first film, Money No Enough, directed by Tay Teck Lock and released into cinemas on 7 May 1998. In 2004, Neo became the first filmmaker in Singapore to be honoured with the Public Service Award. He also received the Cultural Medallion on 21 October 2005 together with musician Dick Lee.
In 2013, Neo announced the creation of J Team Academy, an educational institute which aimed to bring together industry experts to groom new film-making talent. The academy opened on 6 April 2013. In September, Neo won the Best Actor award for his role in Homecoming (2011) at the 1st Golden Wau Awards, aimed at promoting Chinese-language Malaysian films.
In October 2014, the Madame Tussauds Singapore museum unveiled a wax figure of Neo. The statue depicts Neo dressed in a denim shirt with rolled-up sleeves giving two thumbs up - a pose he has struck previously in several media interviews.
2015 saw the release of Neo's short film as part of the omnibus 7 Letters to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence. Malaysian censors took offence with Neo's segment when it was submitted to them for a screening at Kuala Lumpur's Titian Budaya Festival. They initially requested a cut to the vulgar phrase in Cantonese, “curse your whole family”, but a successful appeal was made by organisers, CultureLink.
Neo released the first two parts of his planned four-part film on the transition from village life to government housing in the first quarter of 2016, Long Long Time Agoand Long Long Time Ago 2.