Alliterative alert! The ravishing Rui En in rad red lippie © L'Oréal Paris
“Let’s be real, we’re all drag queens in this business.”
Bam, right off the bat, just like that. This chat's totally shaping up to be a juicy one.
Let’s pull back a sec and set the scene for that rip-roaring zinger of a pull quote, shall we. Singapore small screen princess Rui En is holding court at celeb haunt Hairloom Salon, flanked by a flurrying scrum of face painters and stylists; it’s bustle and bedlam everywhere.
Meanwhile, the subject of this story is swathed in a slinky satin halterneck for the occasion, looking regal as hell and cool as a cucumber in the sultry Saturday sun.
And as for yours truly? I’m seriously sweating bullets at meeting my girl crush in the flesh, but more on that later.
If you’re late to the party, here’s a brisk little dossier on the woman of the hour: 33-years-old at time of writing; multiple Best Actress champ at the annual Singapore Star Awards; reigning Queen Regent of Caldecott Hill (given Fann Wong’s burgeoning bun in the oven); and one truly fabulous “drag queen” in the making.
Ah yes, let’s circle back to the cold opening. Rui En’s risque rejoinder comes in response to my rather sly remark on the sooty eyes and sexy scarlet smackers she’s rocking at four in the afternoon – all very lady of the night, if you will, but you’ve got to hand it to the good-natured lass for being able to laugh at herself.
Which brings us very nicely indeed to the whys and wherefores of my crush on the woman. You have her admirable chutzpah, for one – incredibly rare in this age of micro-managed stardom. You also have to factor in the nostalgia. Rui En’s someone most of us early millennials grew up ogling on the boob tube; indeed, she’s pretty much the only local post-Fann actress I have any affinity for, really.
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Then there’s the skin situation. Having inspected her mug up close for a good half-hour, I’m happy to report that Rui En’s complexion is well-nigh flawless. Being blessed with a mien that’s molded from porcelain comes in very handy indeed when you’re the first Singaporean face for L'Oréal Paris’ Youth Code range of rejuvenating elixirs.
Obligatory sponsors’ plug: Use Youth Code Boosting Serum and look like Rui En! (All jesting aside, the product’s an exquisite entry-level anti-ager that’s great to have on your vanity table.)
Oh, and Rui En has a super stylin’ sense of fashion. Noticing my splashy fish-embossed Spring 2014 Kenzo sweater (not worn with the runway’s white eyeliner, more’s the pity), the actress looks me in the eye and grins: “You’re big on Kenzo, I see.”
See what I mean when I say she’s the ultimate girl crush? Read on for more beauty bits and bytes from the Best Actress Ever:
1. The camera makes you 10 pounds heavier and 10 facial blotter sheets oilier. Here’s a nifty selfie-taking tip. Rui En says most filmographers she’s worked with are leery of the dewy K-Beauty finish: “The lens really emphasises everything, so skin that’s perfectly matte in real life will appear as having a sheen on screen.”
Of course, that’s small change when weighed against the apocryphal 10 pounds the camera adds to one’s frame: “I’ve grown used to the aunties, bless them, who always tell me I’m not as fat as I appear on the tellie. Part of the job, I guess!”
In any case, Rui En appears to enjoy getting wet for laughs: “My complexion’s usually a little more ‘wet’ than what most TV people are used to from other artistes, but that’s just the way I like it.”
Rui En credits her longtime partner-in-crime and face painter Sam for shoving her onto the K-Beauty bandwagon: “Thanks to him, I’m quite comfortable with highlighting fluids and illuminating pens; besides, when your face is too matte, it can read as flat and two-dimensional.” Future directors, now you know who to blame for your leading lady’s gorgeous glow!
2. About that “drag queen” business … No, Rui En is most emphatically not using the epithet in a derogatory way.
Some context is in order. When quizzed on her favourite type of look when swishing down the Star Awards red carpet, this is what the starlet had to say, and I quote verbatim: “Falsies, liner, the whole works. We’re all drag queens in this business.”
Well, colour me surprised. I didn’t know gents like say, George Young were secret burlesque performers, but whatever you say, Rui En.
3. You have L'Oréal Paris foundie to thank for Rui En’s acting accolades. Sort of, maybe. Get this, for all of her relative youth and socially reticent schtick, Rui En’s a bona fide thespian, a really big fish in a tiny red pond.
To wit: She’s swiped three consecutive biggies from 2011 through 2013: Two Best Actress trophies at the Star Awards and Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Asian Television Awards 2012.
Most intriguingly, Rui En says beauty plays a plum role in prompting her to get into the psyche of a character: “Most people perceive makeup as just a cosmetic prop, but if I were playing say, a go-getting professional, I’ll ask for a really lovely sheer base, something like L'Oréal Paris True Match, for instance, to help me look and feel polished for the part.”
Use these, win an acting trophy: L'Oréal Paris True Match Foundation, $30.90, and Superliner Gelmatic Pen in Black, $18.90
Oh, and Rui En’s one of those touchy-feely types for whom scents mean more than the sum total of its molecules, in a manner of speaking. Let her explain: “Once filming has ended, I find myself unable to use the same perfume from the role again. Once it’s done, it’s done. I want to leave it behind.”
(Somewhat interesting aside: I’ve noticed that creative individuals tend to have the same sort of visceral emotional reaction to scents – just ask Amy Adams, who very politely but pointedly declined to reveal the smells which could conceivably make her weep.)
4. She’s really looking forward to becoming an auntie ... and swears she’ll never go under the knife, ever. No kidding.
When asked for her personal style heroine, Rui En says she’s all about the cigarette pants, tailored tuxedos and defiant sense of ease about the First Lady of Cinema: “I’d love to be like Katharine Hepburn in the future – she allowed herself to age with dignity on screen; one might even refer to Kate in her later days as an ‘auntie’ in local-speak, you know.”
Rui En transitioning from bright-eyed ingenue to red-hot star and full-blown national treasure? You best believe it.
While we’re on the topic, I’ll note that catty industry commentators have long murmured about the provenance of Rui En’s eggshell-smooth forehead, but the actress (she’s only 33, for mascara’s sake!) insists she’s a proponent of "natural" beauty.
Indeed, Rui En makes a pretty impassioned and eloquent case against the entertainment industry’s fetishisation of youth. In her own words: “I really, really hate ageism and the pervasive notion in the regional celeb scene that being young and thin are the only barometers of beauty.”
“So no, I don’t think I’ll ever go down that route [of plastic surgery], simply because it’s a neverending cycle. So you might start with a little lipo here and then you’ll start seeing other bits of yourself you’ll want to fix, and then the next … I don’t want to tumble down that rabbithole.”
Now, saying that they have no qualms with aesthetic augmentations has almost become a stock answer for celebs – the more cynical among us might read it as a fallback plan in case they're ever caught having work done in future – but I can only speak for myself when I say that I do take her at (non-Botoxed) face value!
5. Rui En fans, here’s how to pay lip service to your idol, so to speak. Favourite shade and brand of lipstick?
Rabid Rui En supporters, drumroll please – she absolutely adores L'Oréal Paris Color Riche Moist Matte in P502 Cherry Crush, although she’ll have you know that she’s still very much an eye girl. “I’m more of an eye person, really; most of my fans will know that my signature look involves lots of liner.”
Send a carton of these to her house, please
And she does indeed have a fascinatingly fanatical fanbase, the most fervent of which must surely be the “official” one. RBKD, short for “Ruì Bù Kě Dāng”, is a registered fan club with its punny monicker playing on a popular Chinese proverb to mean – and no groans, now – “Rui En is unstoppable”. I’m counting on your page clicks, RBKD guys and girls!
Wrapping up now. When I compliment Rui En on her choice of lipstick, she smiles and hands it over like a queen bestowing a spare jewel to her jester. That half-used L'Oréal lippie is still squirrelled away in my weekender. Guys, you know what to do. The tube goes to the highest bidder!
(Editor’s note: We’re not peddling partially used lipstick here, sorry.)