She has never been more chatty, relatable and, at times, even funny – a sharp contrast to the aloof and sometimes guarded public persona she’s known for. Perhaps, actress Rebecca Lim is just misunderstood.
She ping-pongs delightfully from topic to topic with spontaneity in an interview-call with Her World’s creative director Windy Aulia, who opens a window into her state of mind. She’s relaxed and appealingly open as she expresses her regrets and second thoughts about the choices in life.
Rebecca is in her element – and the cover girl (her third for Her World) admits she’s a homebody, though she was looking all glamorous just days before at our shoot (which took place before the circuit breaker measures kicked in). She says: “I’ve always enjoyed spending my free time at home.”
With a string of TV work and commercial partnerships under her belt, the 33-year-old is back on screens in the murder mystery The Bridge (Season 2) by HBO Asia, where she plays detective Serena Teo, along with a new role in an upcoming Channel 8 drama series.
For all her successes, the two-time Star Awards’ Best Actress says she was never the “overnight wonder” or someone “blessed with natural acting talent”; just someone who works hard.
Yet she’s grateful for the good things that have come her way, and she finds time to give back (read: packing up 400 goody bags for seniors and cleaners) – an act of endearment that inspires more admiration than awe, in times like this.
Windy Aulia (WA): I’m curious, how are you dealing with the social distancing these days?
Rebecca Lim (RL): To be honest… nothing’s too different for me. I’ve always enjoyed spending my free time at home. If I’m not home, I’ll be at one of my close friends’ places. Honestly, I live in my pyjamas when I don’t have work. But I recently welcomed my first baby niece into the family, so babysitting is keeping me busy. I can’t emphasise how important it is, in a time like this, to spend more time with our loved ones, because we never know when anything is going to change.
WA: I see, were you babysitting before this?
RL: Oh, I was just at my personal assistant’s place *packing up 400 goody bags for old folks and cleaners. We’re planning to give them out later this week.
I just felt like I had to thank the seniors and cleaners for doing such a great job during a time like this. They’re out there risking their lives for us. So, this is a little something to perk them up and show some gratitude.
WA: Nice, that’s amazing! Do you often contribute to charity?
RL: Well, I enjoy thanking others for their hard work. I actually pass out goody bags twice a year: once during my birthday and another during Chinese New Year. It’s just one of the things I do outside of work when I have the time, and doing this is just keeping up with the yearly tradition!
WA: Speaking of work, what have you been up to this year?
RL: Well, I’ve reprised the role of Serena in The Bridge 2 by HBO Asia, and that’s very exciting. It’s a regional cast and I’m so honoured to be working alongside actors from all over South-east Asia.
I’ve also taken on a role for an upcoming Channel 8 drama series, and I play a woman who’s in a loveless marriage, so that’s going to be something different for me. I’m hoping it’ll turn out great because this series is set to be the year-end blockbuster.
WA: What’s good acting to you? Have you ever left the set feeling extremely proud of yourself?
RL: You know, I used to think that immersing myself into a full day of emotions would help me get into character. But it didn’t really work for me and I’d be extremely drained by the time I got on set. I think being authentic in your acting, enjoying the moment and believing your character’s story is very important.
I learnt that from veteran actor Christopher Lee, he’s definitely someone who has offered me great advice. As for feeling good about a performance, I must admit that I’ve experienced that a few times.
Of course, I hope others on set felt the same about my performance (haha)!
But I think it’s very important to feel good about yourself, no matter what industry you’re in. Having that confidence, as I learnt from Christopher, is key.
WA: Is there someone you’d like to work with in the future?
RL: Wow, this is hard. I admire so many people because everyone has different qualities that make them great actors. If I had to choose a local celebrity, it’d be Xiang Yun jie (the Chinese term for “big sister”).
She’s one of the few veterans who spoke to me when I just entered showbiz. She’s consistent with her greetings and I like people who are like that. It shows sincerity. Internationally, I look up to actors like Cate Blanchett. Not just for her amazing acting chops, but her impeccable style too. I’ve also heard that she’s very generous with
industry newcomers and doesn’t hesitate to help newbies. I aspire to be like her someday.
WA: You’ve played so many roles, what’s something you haven’t done and would like to do next?
RL: Ooh… I’d like to act in a horror flick. I have to confess I’m a scaredy cat, and I don’t watch many horror movies (since Sixth Sense and that was really long ago). But acting in a show is very different from watching it. I definitely don’t mind taking on a horror role.
As for the future… I think I’d like to write a script some day. I’ve always liked writing my thoughts down and I have many ideas which I write down in my personal journal. It helps me articulate my emotions. But that’s something for me to work on. For now, I just want to become the best actress I can be because I believe in focusing on one thing at a time.
WA: Well, you seem like someone who’s very determined. Are you a routine kinda person? Or do you do things whenever you feel like it?
RL: Surprisingly… I’m not as organised as I’d like to be. I mean, I do try to have a routine every morning, where I wake up and drink a glass of hot water, and pop into the shower. But most of the time, I just go with the flow. I think the nature of my job makes it hard to stick to one routine: one moment I’m attending meetings, and another I’m shooting.
I don’t feel anxious about keeping to routine, partly because I’m just someone who loves spontaneity. I even went on a solo trip to Cambodia once. Earlier this year, I wanted to take a short break so I spontaneously booked a trip to Bali – alone. But because of the situation now, I had to cancel my plans. So I do hope I get to do that more in the future!
WA: I could never travel alone! But what about the things you do in the moment and regret after?
RL: I always envy those who say they never regret anything in their lives. For me, I definitely regret many things. I think there’s no shame to admit that because it allows me to reflect and do better in the future. Embracing the regret, and learning from it…that’s something that keeps me grounded.
WA: Speaking of staying grounded, the industry can be a little confusing sometimes. What does it mean to you to be a celebrity?
RL: I have never actually thought about that question before. And thinking about it right now, I really don’t know. The status doesn’t hold much meaning to me, but that’s not because I’m taking it for granted.
It’s true that I got to experience many things, like becoming a brand ambassador and travelling to places I’ve never been. But at the end of the day, it’s my job. I was never an overnight wonder or blessed with natural acting talent, and everything I have today, I worked hard for it. So I have to take it seriously like everyone else. I’m just really grateful.
WA: Indeed, it’s important to express gratitude. Now, what do you like outside of work?
RL: I think I’m someone who appreciates beauty and all things well-made. So I enjoy a lot of things that are intricately crafted.
Skincare is something I like experimenting with. I honestly don’t mind buying an indie product just because of its backstory – the way it’s being made draws me into the beauty of the product.
Likewise with many of the things I’ve endorsed, I am truly a fan of them. For example, I was recently made a friend of Swiss luxury watch brand Longines. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time, because their branding fits into the way I like to dress. It’s simple, chic, but well made. I hope I get to visit their factory in Switzerland someday!
I was never an overnight wonder or blessed with natural acting talent, and everything I have today, I worked hard for it.– Rebecca Lim
Photography Wee Khim, assisted by Ivan Teo
Creative Direction Windy Aulia
Styling Debby Kwong, assisted by Sean Tham
Hair Dexter Ng, using Kevin Murphy
Makeup Shaun Lee, using Nars
*This interview was recorded before the Circuit Breaker measures were put in place.
This was first published in the May 2020 issue of our magazine.
Brought to you by Longines