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Harvard Student Starring In New Nickelodeon Show

Junior Plays Teenage Sleuth in 'Mystery Files'

By Kymberle J. Zielinski

A Currier House junior who is no stranger to the camera debuted as the star of her own cable television show last night.

Irene S. Ng '97 played the title role in "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo," a show aimed primarily at children, that aired on the Nickelodeon network at 6 p.m.

Ng, who has already filmed six episodes for the show, plays Shelby Woo, a 16-year-old detective who lives in Florida with her grandfather, played by Pat Morita of Karate Kid fame.

Accompanied by her two friends, Cindy and Noah, Shelby pursues various detective adventures. In the premiere episode, she learns how to SCUBA dive but becomes trapped in a boat while gathering clues to solve the mystery of a stolen coin.

In her eager sleuthing, the trendy Shelby finds herself in a plethora of trouble, which results in reprimands from her grandfather or reminders from a professional detective that she is too young to be involved in the case.

Although Ng is used to seeing herself on television and in film, having appeared in both "All My Children" and "The Joy Luck Club," she says she was still a little embarrassed to see the show.

Ng adds that she sometimes feels funny about playing a character who is much younger than she.

"I'm consciously acting young," she says. "It was strange because the other cast members on the set were talking about high school and SAT's."

Ng says she auditioned for the part in the Nickelodeon production at the end of last summer, and the studio taped six episodes over winter break.

Ng says that she plans to take the fall semester off to work more on the show.

Michael C. Su '96, Ng's friend who watched the premiere with her last night, says he thought the show was somewhat "goofy" but is the sort of thing kids like.

"I think Irene fits the part really well; she's really peppy," he says. "Her personality really comes through."

But Su says Ng's character on television is a person quite different from his real-world friend.

"It's strange seeing the difference between the character she plays and this pre-med who studies all the time," he says.

A dedicated student, Ng says she turned down Nickelodeon's offer to attend the premiere screening of the show because she has organic chemistry assignments to complete.

According to Ng, her acting career began when she was 14.

"I entered a local beauty pageant just for fun, and I won," she says. "One of the judges is now my current manager."

Ng began going on auditions shortly after the pageant and got a part on "All My Children."

"It was very encouraging to get a break after only four months of auditioning," she says.

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