Did you get the role?

I don’t normally like to talk about my auditions or, if I do talk about them, I try to talk about them in non-specific terms, not naming anything or anyone, so that people won’t know which auditions I passed and which I didn’t.

One reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people always ask stupid questions like “Did you get the role?” on the very day of the audition.

I have news for everyone. Film auditions are just like job interviews. They don’t tell you on the spot whether they’re giving you the job, because

a) they still have more applicants to see after you, duh,

b) they need time to hire a PI to do a background check on you,

c) they want to go home and consult their dogs first. “Wag your tail if you like this girl.”

Or whatever.

This is not rocket science. It’s common sense.

Sometimes, they take months to decide. Gasp. Just like any other job interview, you don’t say, would you like fries with that?

Another reason I don’t like to talk about auditions is because people like to follow up, as early as a day later.

One day later…

“So, did you get the role?”

I get asked the same question every day for the next ten days by different people. Sometimes by the same people.

I don’t know if I got the role! I just auditioned for heaven’s sake!

What’s with this insatiable desire to know whether I got the role or not??

Who cares? If I got the role, you’ll read about it on my blog. You’ll see me on TV. You’ll see me on film, on YouTube, on the papers, wherever.

Making me go through the same conversation a million times will not enrich either of our lives.

“So, did you get the role?”


“Congrats! I knew you could do it!”


“So, what’s for dinner?”


“So, did you get the role?”


“Oh. Well, I’m sure you’ll get the next one.”

Yes of course I will get the next one! I just don’t need to go through this conversation two hundred times a month!!

Another thing is, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. In showbiz, they say that a 20% success rate is the standard.

You must understand that actors go for auditions all the time. Sometimes every day. Sometimes three or four times a day. And, sometimes, a thousand people are gunning for the same job.

So, a 20% success rate is pretty golden.

But, on the flip side, it means that you have to report failure 80% of the time.

And you’re reporting failure a lot because your friends won’t stop asking you, “Did you get the role?”

I repeat, it’s very unpleasant to talk about failure. Or be reminded of it.

I don’t want to have to say “No, I didn’t get it,” eight out of 10 times, you understand?

So, anyway, I haven’t gone for an audition in months because I’ve been busy with my new media work. But I went for one on Thursday and I will talk about it soon. Just don’t ask me whether I got the role.

Because I don’t know.

Auditions… bah

Mood meter: Low.

Went for a TVC audition today and I was terrible like a camera-shy newbie.

It was a young housewife role.

I know I’m supposed to shed my auntie image but I’m not going to argue with money. TVCs are great money and I would act as a grandmother if they paid me.

Anyway, they wanted me to say the lines very auntie, very ah soh, like a gossipy housewife hanging out at the wet market. You know the kind?

I performed take after take after take. Somehow, I just couldn’t do it properly. Every inch of auntie-ness I ever possessed fled me instantly. It was like I simply couldn’t act like an ah soh if my life depended on it. 

I felt awkard and unnatural in front of the camera and my body gave out self-conscious tics each time a scene ended and I waited for the casting director to say “cut”. I giggled like a self-conscious teenager each time the “cut” came.



*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Yesterday, I went for a short film audition.

It was a callback (meaning second round of auditions).

We were given two scenes to prepare a week before the callback and, I tell you, I have never put in so much effort into an audition script, ever.

Reason being I love the script, it’s a good story and it’s the most challenging script I’ve ever worked on (has lots of subtext, role within role kinda thing, and very emotional).

So, I worked and worked and worked on it.

Because I was filming Incredible Tales last week, I didn’t have a lot of time, but I worked on the script every free moment I had. I memorised the lines to death, analysed and rehearsed each line individually, and tried out all the different ways I could play each line and feel each emotion.

I worked on the two scenes (four pages) for five consecutive days, which is rather extreme.

I had two competitors and I didn’t think I had a high chance of getting the role because I’m the wrong race. The script says “preferably caucasian” and I’m the least caucasian-looking one. 

But I worked on it, anyway, because I owe it to my reputation as a serious actress to do a good job at every audition. And because this was a tough role, I worked doubly, triply hard on it. I wanted to give a good performance not strictly to get the job, but for the sake of giving a good performance.

And then, besides filming Incredible Tales and preparing for this audition, I also had another emotional audition (TV drama) to prepare for. It was to be on the same day as the short film audition. So you can imagine my stress level last week.

Saturday was the last day of the Incredible Tales shoot, and then Sunday came. I did some final rehearsing on Sunday morning and was finally satisfied that I was well-prepared for both auditions.

The first one (TV drama) didn’t go as well as I hoped because they changed the script last minute. I had to unlearn and relearn the lines on the spot, and the emotional buildup that I had planned for didn’t work on the new, shortened script.

The second one (short film) went ok. Not as spectacular as I’d hoped, but I didn’t think I was too far off.

After both auditions, I was relieved.

Incredible Tales – DONE

Two back-to-back challenging auditions – DONE

Dieting – DONE

I celebrated the end of stress week by playing WoW and eating McWings, cheesecake and bak kwa for dinner.

Halfway through playing WoW in the night, I got a call from the short film director to tell me that I wasn’t selected. He was very nice about it, saying that all of us acted very well, but he decided to go with a particular actress because she paired better with the male lead to give the film the flavour he wanted.

Which is reasonable. Purely on looks alone, I don’t think I’m very compatible with the male lead because he’s ang moh and I look too oriental.

But I was sad.

I felt a heart-sinking emptiness. Like, after five days of hard work, it’s over. I think it’s the kind of feeling someone would get after being dumped, only milder.

I felt a bit of relief because the role is honestly very hard and I’m not sure I can pull off the entire film. But the disappointment affected me more.

So, after that and today’s embarrassing TVC audition, I wanted to call it quits and run off to Australia to live with emus.

But that was the child in me. The adult in me knew that that’s impossible and I’d just plod on like I always do.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Today, the short film director requested a re-audition because a previously short-listed actor who had dropped out due to time constraints now doesn’t have the time constraints anymore. And the three actresses have been invited back to audition with this other actor because the director wants to find the best possible combination of couple for the film.

So, now, I have another chance. But I don’t think it’s going to make a difference. I think I have the wrong look for this film, anyway.

Yet, I have to try because it’s the right thing to do.

That means stress week isn’t over yet.

Four auditions scheduled for this week so far, including the one today. And I expect more to come.

I hate auditions.

Just give me the freaking job.


Cheated by fate

It’s Friday again. Too fast.

It seems like only yesterday when I wrote my last blog and thought to myself, “It’s Friday again. Too fast.”

And then here is the weekend again, barely have I recovered from the tragic passing away of the last week.

I don’t like it when time flies like the wind and fruit flies like bananas because flies are one of life’s greatest annoyances.

Every day, I get the feeling that I’m going to die before I fulfill all my life’s desires.

And time just speeds along without a care, without consideration for the fact that I haven’t done all the things I have to do.

I am sad, too.

I didn’t want to blog about it because sad blogs are stupid and I don’t like to invite sympathy.

But I just read a short story in which the protagonist decides to write about a true event which has haunted him for over eight decades. He finally writes it at his deathbed because he believes writing can give him freedom.

He says, “What you write down sometimes leaves you forever, like old photographs left in the bright sun, fading to nothing but white. I pray for that sort of release.”

(That’s from a short story called “The Man in the Black Suit” by Stephen King.)

When I read that, it felt like Mr King himself was advising me to “get it off my chest”.

So here I am blogging, while waiting for my dinner to digest so I will have room for the chocolate rum balls I bought last night.

I lost a big movie role because I’m too compatible with the male actor.

The role is not big big, but it’s bigger than the previous two I had. It’s a main cast character, I believe.

I am not inconsolable, of course. I have a spare heart of titanium lying around in one of my intestines. I put it on over my regular stupid weak tender heart whenever I am faced with rejection. Every bullet of pain ricochets off it without so much as leaving a mark and I laugh manically at pithy attempts to crumble my soul.

I invoke my silver lining mantra. Every dark cloud has a silver lining. I’m not bothered by failures because I know something better will come along out of every loss.

I invoke sour grapes. It’s not, like, a perfect role, anyway. Not going to cause millions to adore me and worship me, so why bother?

But I am sad, indignant, because of the way in which I lost the role.

It was down to two actresses. The male actor who is to play the husband had already been cast and the director had both actresses come in to read with the male actor to see who looks better paired up with him.

Better, I am to find out later, is very subjective.

At the reading, I found out that I know that actor. In fact, I just acted in a short film opposite him. I thought that gave me a pretty good chance to snag the role.

I even did a good reading and I know the director liked my performance.

I went through an asthmatic, hyperventilating two weeks waiting for the good news phone call.

It didn’t come.

The only good news is that my heart is now an expert at beating very fast every time the phone rings.

Not exactly a very useful skill that I will call upon many times in my life, but you never know. Actors have to be skillful at everything you can imagine and everything you can’t.

I finally found out that I didn’t get the role because I was too compatible with the male actor. We looked too good together. At the audition, in between reads, we were joking around with each other and having a good time.

In the movie, the husband and wife are supposed to be in constant conflict and the director wants a certain awkwardness to show up.

I didn’t get the role because I know the actor and I am not awkward with him.

Such a bitter pill to swallow.

Worse than the vile Chinese concoction I take for sore throats.

I don’t blame anyone. I am in full support of the director’s method of casting and directing, which is to find the actor who, in real life, most resembles the character in the story, so the film can look totally natural and realistic.

He is of the school which believes in subtlely more than acting acting, and I totally dig that. Not that I don’t dig the other schools, but I believe different techniques, different styles, work for different people, different projects.

I am sad because I had looked forward to playing this role and I thought I had a great chance of getting it. It is not every day a big movie role appears up for grabs in Singapore. In the rare occasion that a movie is going to be made in Singapore, they always cast famous people first and the rest of us plebians get to be icing sugar and parsley.

But I am not disabled by the unhappiness which is, at best, intermittent. I can still function with zest. I look forward to getting an even better role than the one I just lost.

And that is why time is going too fast for me.

I need to get a good role before I’m 95 and hallucinating on my deathbed.

I’m hogging the casting lists every day, refreshing pages every three seconds, waiting, waiting, waiting for a to-die-for role which profile I fit, which is actually open for audition.

In the meantime, I have simple joys to contend myself with.

The Goonfather bought me a new keyboard yesterday. It is such a joy to type on. The keys are OH, SO, cottony soft and ghostly silent. It’s the Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000, which is also anti-spillage, and with which I am immensely pleased.

I have a role in another short film which I think is going to be a lot of fun. We’re all getting costumes from an actual costume shop because it’s sort of a theme thing. That is so way ultra cool. We have a rehearsal tomorrow and I so enjoy going to rehearsals, even if it’s on a Saturday night and we’re not paid for it.

I just bought four books by my favourite authors and I’m devouring them like a starved puppy devours his favourite bacon-flavoured chewing strip.

Life is good.

And now, one of life’s greatest pleasures, one of my most wicked indulgences, beckon me.

Chocolate rum balls (from Subway Niche) and a good novel, in bed.

Why auditions are evil

Thank you all for your well wishes and encouragement.

It’s always good to know that I don’t have any enemies who laugh at my misfortunes. Or maybe I do, just that they’re not vocal enough to notify me of their hatred towards me.

Well, contrary to popular opinion, actually, I’m not really depressed. I’m mostly just feeling numb. Abstract ideas floating around in my head, here then gone, intermittently distracting me from reality.

But not distracting enough to stop me from enjoying a chocolate bar.

I am getting a sugar-overdose fix now. Can of Pepsi Twist and bar of Cadbury Twirl.

Life is good when you’re caught up in a moment of pure hedonism.

I need more chocolate, though.

Just got home from two auditions and going through denial (again).

Noooooo….! I didn’t do that at the audition. That wasn’t me. OMG Noooooo… delete DELETE!!!

Have I ever mentioned that auditions are evil?

I bet I have.

Some auditions are fun. I like the acting part, the part where we have to act out a scene. What I hate are the profile shoots and the self-intros.

Profile shoot:

Look into the camera. Smile. Good. Now, turn right. Okay. And now left. Good. Turn back to the camera and give a big smile. That’s it. Great!

This makes me feel like a criminal or a camera-shy geek. I do not feel glamorous or sexy or pretty or charming or anything positive during this exercise.


Hi! My name is Qiaoyun and I’m an actress. You may have seen me on TV recently… blah blah.

Now, I really, really, REALLY hate this. If I’m not wrong, the purpose of self-intros (talking into the camera) is to show the client how well-spoken you are and how you carry yourself and, probably, how natural and photogenic you are on screen.

Still. I hate it.

I feel stupid talking about myself. Who really wants to hear me talk about my life, my experience, my hobbies, my skills or whatever else there is to talk about?

If I can’t sell tickets to a performance entitled “Shen Qiaoyun — The Self-Intro”, then I can safely assume that the client is not going to be entertained by my little speech. That makes me feel apologetic when I’m doing the self-intro, which in turn totally dissolves any charisma I might have.

I would be a very very happy person if I never have to do mug shots and self intros again, and still get acting/modelling job offers. I think only superstars enjoy that privilege. Superstars are exempt from such indignities.

So I guess I’ll have to work on becoming a superstar.

I need help.

Two posts are now open for application.

1. Big shot who can make me a superstar (1 vacancy)
2. Adoring fan (limitless vacancies)

Please apply here. Kthxbye.

How old should I be?

I feel blessed. I keep getting pretty daughters.

For free.

The fact that these daughters are only my daughters for the duration of a shoot doesn’t change the fact that I keep getting them. Nor that they’re pretty. Nor that I’m now thinking it’s a sign that I should permanently market myself as an actress in the auntie/mother category.

Here’s my latest daughter:

Isn’t she a sweetie? Like all the rest of my screen daughters, awww.

I also get cute (screen) pets:

Oh, and cute (screen) husbands. Except I forgot to take a photo of my latest husband. But you’ll get to see him maybe in a month or so when the commercial goes on air.

Yes, my commercial roll has indeed rolled on into 2006, although it could have stopped rolling now, I don’t know. You can never tell with them rolly things.

Anyhow, this time, I’m endorsing a Kao household product as a mother. Eek.

The good news is that I’m supposed to act cute. Hahaha, can you beat that? Act cute mother.

I bet there are thousands of people out there who want to beat me up for acting cute, but I AM PAID TO ACT CUTE, so there.

For this commercial, the idea was for me to be a siao char bor anime-cute type housewife. It was a real challenge because, honestly, how cute can I act when I have my hair pinned up with auntie hair pins and I have a mop in my hand 80% of the time?

The dog is much cuter.

The clients initially didn’t want me because, looking at the audition tape, they thought I was a teenager.

I didn’t act cute in the audition, ok. I was wearing the most mature clothes I own and I had my hair tied up.

The production team thought I was perfect for the role so they fought very long and hard to convince the clients that I could be made to look like a mother.

So, thanks to them, I got the job. Yay.

But I feel a severe identity crisis.

Just a week ago, I was offered the leading role of a 19-year-old in a short film.

I honestly don’t know how to market myself anymore.

Recently, I was rejected for a Pizza Hut commercial for the same reason I was almost rejected for the Kao commercial.

I arrived at the Pizza Hut audition wearing a mickey mouse blouse and short denim skirt because I wasn’t told beforehand what I was auditioning for, and also because I went there directly after another audition for an 18-year-old lead (which I got but had to turn down.)

In the casting room, I found out that Pizza Hut was looking for a young mother. I was, like, “Eeks! But I’m wearing this!” which made me look even more juvenile.

I can be such a dodo sometimes.

But I think I did well because the director called me to say he really wanted to cast me, but the Pizza Hut people thought I was a teenager and totally couldn’t visualise me as a mother, what with mickey mouse and all. I suppose I can’t blame them.

You see the pattern.

I am constantly having to change my image to suit different clients (sometimes many times in a day), which is fun, no doubt, but it really wreaks havoc on my psyche.

But I don’t want to limit myself since the acting job market in Singapore is already so lean it’s 100% fat free.

I guess I’ll have to carry on not having a real age to call my own.

Anyway, switching age is much easier than switching gender, as Vincent will tell you (if you ask him).


The Kao shoot was an impressively huge production. It was shot at someone’s house, which looks more like a resort than a private residence. Lunch and dinner were catered, buffet style, but I couldn’t eat much because we were kept very busy all day, filming non stop.

Oh, to be so rich that your poolside patio is bigger than the average Singaporean’s living room.

Wait. What am I saying?

Oh, to be so rich that you even have a swimming pool in your house. Never mind the patio.