On why I am an actress

I am stoned out of my skull.

Yesterday, I put myself through something worse than the time I had a job packing brochures into envelopes.

I spent an entire day reading 10 episodes of a Chinese drama script.

Chinese! Aaaaah!!

Each episode is about 65 pages, so that’s 650 freaking pages of Chinese text I made myself read in one day.

My head is still swimming from squiggle overload.

And I have about a thousand pages more to go.

(On a side note, though, I found the plot really intriguing. That’s why I couldn’t stop reading until about two in the morning, despite the difficulty of reading Chinese and the nausea from reading nonstop an entire day.)

This is what a typical page looks like. I’ve shrunk and blurred it so you can’t read the words, haha (assuming you can read Chinese). Scripts are confidential lah.


This is in preparation for an upcoming drama series. I don’t have a huge role. It’s a 25-episode drama and, out of the roughly 1600 pages, my involvement is only about 50 pages’ worth.

But it’s an important enough role for me to want to read the entire script, although I don’t really have to, since my character is only involved in one small sub-plot.

I don’t know what the industry norm is, but I personally like to read the entire script whether my role is big or small. Even if it means having to struggle through 1600 pages of Chinese text.

I like going on set feeling familiar with the environment, story and characters, and knowing what’s going on every step of the way.

Because of the way I get involved in stories, I like big roles.

Small roles depress me because they are one-dimensional and don’t give me a sense of ownership in the creation process. It’s like being invited to a party where you are only allowed to sit in the courtyard and watch the activities in the house through the window. You’re there but you’re not really part of it.

One of the big reasons I so love being an actress is because I love stories, whether in books or the movies. I get personally involved with the main characters in the story so much so that I want to BE them, step in their shoes, live their lives, share their triumphs, taste their disappointments.

Getting a big role is a chance to satisfy this deep yearning I’ve felt since I was a child.

Even when I get a small role, I try to get involved by reading the entire script (if I’m given it) and imagining an untold story for my character. But because I do not get to act out my imaginary story, I will go to the shoot, do my job and then go home and get depressed because the party is over for me.

In contrast, the sense of fulfillment I get from playing leading characters gives me a high which doesn’t go away for weeks.

This is the high I live for. This is the high that I suffer through countless auditions and humiliating small roles for. It’s a gamble because I can never be sure where I will end up. I get depressed whenever I imagine that my payout never comes. But I am still compelled to take the gamble.

That’s why, I think, I will be an actress till the day I die.

17 thoughts on “On why I am an actress

  1. Avatar

    I met one of the jazz guitarists in Singapore and I remember what he said, “After getting my first guitar and graduating from school, I never worked a single day of my life.”

    Simply for doing what he loves, every single day. WOW.

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    Uh-oh, you’re gonna be in trouble. Once the serial is on air & your name is seen, your blog will be swamped by couch potatoes who will pester you about the storyline. Oh yes, high visit counts for your site.

    As for your ‘small’ role, please do not judge the potential of it based on the length of airtime/dialogue. Remember a practically throwaway character called ‘Xena’ from Hercules TV series? From appearance in a single episode, not much dialogue & flat characteristic, Xena manages to have its own spin-off series because Luc Lawless did something about her role (Forget the details & don’t really care about it). Furthermore you have experience on your side, if you have the will, me believe you will find a way to solve the creativity issue.

    So your role will be a mummy again? Woohooooo!!

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    Vandalin: Yeah, lucky him. :) But no matter how much one loves one’s job, there are always sucky aspects to it. Like, for mine, going for auditions nonstop, having more auditions than jobs. :P

    Ah Toh: Chey. I wish. LOL. I don’t think I will win any fans with this new role. Erm… not mummy lah. But a very important woman, ok!! :P Anyway, in my blog, I was more talking about how I feel about being involved in a show, and not really to do with air-time. Of course, big roles = more airtime = more involved = more fun and fulfilling for me.

    Ruok: Depends on what you compare it with, I guess. :P

    Chong: Hmm. Grats on what? Getting an inconsequential role? Hehe. Thanks anyway. I know you support me no matter what, lol.

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    If you have a solid foundation in Chinese, 650 pages may not be a problem. Good Luck in your next Chinese role!
    As the saying goes, the longer the snowball rolls, the bigger it will be. Keep pratising your Chinese by reading the scripts and soon you will take off. All the best, bro!

  5. Avatar

    Way to go , Qiaoyun!

    Yeah, 50 pages seems like a lot of screen time for you.

    Definitely much better than Pan Ling Ling role in the Jackie Chan movie.

  6. Avatar

    Raven: Aww thanks :)

    Starlandliu: No… my Chinese sucks big time. I am good at enunciating Chinese words and am really great at hanyu pinyin :P but when it comes to reading and vocab, I am like below F9. I read really slowly and have to check the dictionary every so often to find out how to read some words.

    Sunny: Mmm… well, like I said, depends on what we’re comparing it with lor. :P Like the lead actors get over 1000 pages each. :P Anyway movie is different lah. They’re shorter, so smaller roles are more memorable.

    JF: What side? Sunny side up? Backside?

  7. Avatar

    That day i saw one of my last time fav spore actress (popular one) bringing her kids to school and MY, she looks errr not as pretty as last time… Maybe without makeup la… But I’d say this, spore actress will depreciate over time…

    Thus, in reply to ur last statement, better get a good guy and start a good family and enjoy it… :þ

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    Are you saying that all actors must be good looking? You never see average looking or ugly looking people on the screen before? Movies and TV show don’t have old people meh? Looks depreciate doesn’t mean one has to quit acting, right?

    Anyway, starting a family has nothing to do with acting. You can be an actor and still start a family.

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    okie… probi i was a bit taken aback by wat i saw as she can be really pretty on screen… anyway, i am not putting down this profession, juz that i tot spore doesn’t know how to appreciate ageing actors like those ang mos where in fact, some of the actors stays as good even if they got older, like sean connery, tom cruise and nicole kidman (my fav also)…

    Anyway, u have ur passions and reasons…. Keep it up…

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. And it’s true, in Singapore (actually in Asia) looks play a more important part than they do in Hollywood. But we do have Singaporean actresses who manage to age gracefully and go from being TV sweethearts to mature character actresses.

    It’s actually easier for me because I’ve never been a TV sweetheart and will probably never be, so I’m just going for character acting all the way. :P

  11. Avatar

    That’s why we all gravitate towards MMORPGs where every player is a star? No stinking mob is going to be stealing the limelight from us! Well..at least it’ll find it tough stealing with my blade stuck in it’s ribs…*snarl*

    On another note, I think it’s time for me to get a real life :D

  12. Avatar

    The work you put into it, is the result you will get from it. Or as they say in the west, that harder you work, the higher the returns.

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