People Watch: Peaceful Dragon
His Chinese name means Peaceful Dragon, but Cameron Andersen’s life as TV presenter “An Long” of ICS Chinese Getaway program is anything but calm, writes Sophie Loras.
He may not be so recognizable on the streets of his Gold Coast hometown, but in Shanghai, Cameron Andersen is known to literally millions of locals through his role as the host of International Channel Shanghai’s Chinese Getaway program.
It is not exactly where the 27-year-old thought his Bond University law degree would take him, but nonetheless, it is what Cameron calls, his “dream job”.
After completing his law degree with a Masters in Chinese Language, Cameron worked for a Chinese law firm in Shanghai before being offered the once in a lifetime opportunity to guest host the Chinese travel show.
“I introduced viewers to a retirement home for older women who were studying Cantonese, dancing and painting and I really started getting into it and did some break dancing with one of the ladies! It was a big hit and it all just led on from there,” says Cameron.
He then took annual leave to pursue the entertainment route and has never looked back.
“You can probably do more in China than you can in the West and that’s why I stay here,” he says.
In the last two years, Cameron, who speaks fluent mandarin and holds a black belt in combined martial arts, has filmed more than 50 segments for Getaway, taking him to far-flung corners of China as well as many overseas destinations including two stints in Australia.
And certainly, cotton picking in China’s remote Xinjiang Province, sand dune riding in a 4WD in Ningxia Autonomous Region and travelling down a river in sheep skin boats with the Great Wall running beside it, is a far cry from a career in law.
As host of Getaway, Cameron has visited the Great Pyramid of Giza, leapt off the world’s highest bungee jump in Macao and spent a day in the life of Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the World winner, Ben Southall, in the Whitsundays.
However, it was a visit to Shaolin Temple in Henan Province where he was able to combine his championship level background in martial arts, weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics that has remained the biggest highlight of his career to date.
“Shaolin is the Mecca for all martial arts – 5000 years of martial arts and it all leads back to Shaolin,” says Cameron. “And I could finally put all my skills together.”
As host, he joined the monks in their training and climbed down a mountain on his hands and feet.
*Cameron training with the Shaolin monks in the Pagoda Forrest in Henan.
“I wore monks clothes, I trained with them, I sweated with them and I risked injury with them,” he says enthusiastically of the experience.
ICS broadcasts to 4.4 million houses of which Cameron’s Getaway show holds around 30 percent.
He is one of China’s only Chinese speaking foreign hosts and is now well known within tourism industry circles as countries and regional Chinese tourism bodies compete to be on the show. He has been awarded numerous accolades by the Chinese entertainment industry including the China TV & Radio Host Gold Award for his performance on Getaway Wuzhen and in 2009 was the ICS Host of the Year.
In just two years, Cameron’s television career has progressed exponentially. In addition to Getaway, Cameron now also presents; Screen Talk – a movie talk show for Chinese to learn English through film, All or Nothing – a celebrity game show waging points for charity on the outcome of dare devil challenges for contestants on China’s Dragon TV (which boasts up to 100 million viewers across the country) and Star TV’s Fashion Asia, which the station hopes will become Asia’s equivalent to Entertainment Tonight.
In Shanghai, Cameron has more than 2000 fans (mostly girls he says) on Chinese Twitter, is invited to MC at elaborate parties and events such as Huron’s Rich List and is stopped on the street.
“I knew I was famous in China when customs officials at the airport started asking me where I had just been filming and taxi drivers began asking for my autograph,” says Cameron. “I feel like I get a welcome back each time – as a local.” ■