makchic Interviews: “Love Knows No Colour” with Carey Ng and Roen Cian Nagapan

Share on WhatsApp Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

She’s graced magazine covers and world stages as our Miss Universe Malaysia 2013, runs her own successful business, and is a stunning presence in our local entertainment industry. He’s a hard-hustling entrepreneur with a passion for growth, in diverse areas ranging from F&B and football, to co-working spaces and education.

Together, Carey Ng Sue Mun and Roen Cian Nagapan are forces to be reckoned with – and no ‘venture’ brings them more joy than together as a family, along with their two beautiful daughters. Shaelyn Rey Cian and Bella Rey Cian.

In Part 3 of our series this Merdeka month on interracial relationships, Carey gives us a glimpse into her family life with Roen, their journey as a couple, and why love, to them, knows no colour.

Hi Carey! Tell us about your story – how did you and Roen meet?

Our paths crossed 11 years back, when I was competing for Miss Universe Malaysia, and when one leg of the competition took place at Roen’s establishment. However, we didn’t date until months after.

Did you have any concerns, upon entering into an interracial relationship, or experience any negative responses from family and friends?

I didn’t think there were any concerns. I had many good friends from different races from back in my school days. In fact, my closest of friends are from different races. My family was definitely not used to the idea, but they didn’t object to my relationship.

As for Roen, his parents come from an interracial marriage themselves (Roen’s father is Indian, and his mother is Chinese), which really paved the way for our relationship. We were lucky, as race was never an issue with us.

With Roen's parents.
With Roen’s parents.

Were there any “culture shock” moments or key differences that you had to navigate throughout the course of your relationship?

I think that if there were any “culture shock” moments, they weren’t related to race; rather, they were connected to the differences in our respective family upbringings. My family comes from a very protective Chinese-Christian background, which is quite different from that of Roen’s family. The assimilation was relatively smooth however, as his family was easy-going – and we were independent in dictating what we wanted in our wedding, life, and raising our future family.

Christmas, together with Carey’s and Roen’s respective families.

They often say that interracial marriages bring out the best in both worlds. What, in your view, are the best things about your respective cultures that you enjoy in your relationship, or within your family?

We are generally Asian in our culture, so the “respecting our elders, family comes first” mentality has been instilled in us. That, to us, is number one.

In your experience, what are some misconceptions or stereotypes that people may have about interracial relationships?

That we have plenty of differences. I feel that the differences we have are of opinion; but never about our race, or culture.

How are you helping your children embrace their racial identities, and how do you handle tough conversations surrounding race?

The couple, ringing in Chinese New Year with their daughters.

I guess that they are young, and they definitely don’t see colour. They both have cousins of different races, and it only sparks positive curiosity that they come from different backgrounds. We never highlight the differences between people in terms of race, and we definitely don’t label anything. When our children grow up and eventually learn about these labels, hopefully, they would have been taught well to not have any preconceived notions about others, or to discriminate against anyone.

How are you helping your children maintain important cultural traditions and stay connected to their heritage, as well as to their extended families?

Celebrating with the family.

We embrace everything by celebrating everything. We are eager to celebrate as many festivals as we can, alongside our extended families and our friends. We feel that’s the best way to learn and adopt cultures, and it makes it fun for our kids. For our own home, we usually celebrate Christmas, Chinese New Year and Deepavali. We’ve created a lot of traditions on our own, and go with the flow.

What specific challenges have you faced along the way as an interracial family? Could you share some tips or words of advice for other families from similar backgrounds?

I know some families are more conservative, and they take time to accept and adapt to differences. As long as we have our boundaries in place and expect respect, no matter the situation, we just have to remind ourselves to show that love knows no colour. We are more similar than we think.

What are some of the unique benefits or advantages that you believe your children gain from growing up in an interracial family?

Embracing life together.

They will definitely grow up to be more accepting and understanding when it comes to the people around them. Hopefully, they will also be brave enough to stand up against any negativity when it comes to racism.

*The contents of this interview have been edited for brevity and clarity.

By Kimberly Lee

All photos from the personal collection of Carey Ng and Roen Cian Nagapan. 

Catch Part 1 of our series on interracial relationships, featuring our interview with Logesh and Rachel of the Kumaar Family. and Part 2, with INNAI’s Izrin Ismail and Marcus Mikhail Low. 

From our team of purposeful, multi-faceted mummies. For editorial or general enquiries, email to us at hello@makchic.com.