What a difference five years can make. When I first met Rebecca Lim in February 2014 at a mutual friend’s birthday party, she was 27 years old and had yet to win any Star Awards other than two Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes titles. She was friendly but soft-spoken, and kept mostly to herself or just laughed along with others’ jokes.
Today, two Best Actress, one Best Supporting Actress, and another six Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes awards as well as the Her World June 2019 issue’s cover shoot later, Rebecca’s voice is firmer and her posture more confident as we chat about how far she’s come.
Currently filming the fifth season of Mediacorp series C.L.I.F., Rebecca has won a Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes award for eight consecutive years now, and I joke that she might soon go home empty-handed if she also wins for the next two years. (It’s a Mediacorp rule that any artiste who wins the award for 10 consecutive years will no longer be eligible for it.)
“I know! That’s what my colleagues were teasing me about,” Rebecca chuckles. “But to be honest, I also think there will be a certain relief when that pressure to win for another consecutive year is off.”
A true introvert
In a cathartic reflection on her life, Rebecca confides: “In my 20s, I was definitely not as sure of myself as I am today. I used to be a people pleaser and would give countless chances to those whom I considered friends, even when they would repeatedly disappoint me.”
“Today, I only have five good friends. They include my sister and personal assistant, so that’s really how few friends I have. The number goes down as my age goes up,” she adds, laughing. Just as I thought I’d had a glimpse of a new-found cynicism in her, Rebecca quips wisely: “But there’s actually a sense of respite in this, because an uncomplicated life is quite a blissful one.”
Rebecca’s introversion has been innate for as long as she can remember. “Sometimes I’d really rather be alone because there are moments when I feel lonelier in a big group,” she says matter-of-factly. “I’ve always been this way. If you look at my old photos, I’m always the one in the corner, or not smiling as much in groups.”
Her perfect idea of unwinding after work is to take her dog for long walks or stay in bed watching television, with minimal human interaction.
>> Read on to find out about her love life
In the name of #authenticity
However, recently, in the social media age of #authenticity, Rebecca has been criticised on her Instagram account for not sharing much about her personal life or thoughts, which some people deem inauthentic.
“It’s always been clear to me that my Instagram account is for me to share my work, and I’ve never shared anything deeply personal simply because it’s not in my nature, even if it’s among friends and colleagues,” Rebecca says without apology.
“When the criticism first came, of course I questioned myself: ‘Am I not utilising my social media the way most artistes are using it, or in the way it should be used?’. Then I asked myself: ‘Do I want to share for the sake of it because that’s what’s expected of me? Or do I want to be true to myself?’.”
After all, if her introverted self might not share everything with her five close friends, why would she even do so with the 347K followers on her Instagram account? Wouldn’t it actually be inauthentic if we expect her to be someone she’s not?
Though not one to shy away from self-reflection and criticism, Rebecca acknowledges that it takes getting to know herself to improve her objective self-assessment. She admits to previously having spent days pondering others’ critiques, and even though she’s grown more assertive, she’s still a work in progress.
“I definitely like myself more as I grow older, and there’s no way I would want to return to my younger days of people pleasing and uncertainty. But the journey doesn’t end here,” Rebecca muses. “I wish to be more courageous, to have the courage to live life more fully, stand up for what I believe in and fight for who I’ll eventually fall in love with.”
Though she turns 33 in September, Rebecca admits: “I still haven’t been truly in love.”
I ask her if she is worried about “running out of time”. Pursing her lips, Rebecca says after a brief moment of contemplation: “I feel like my life has only just started, so no, I’m not worried at all. I might have been more worried if I knew for sure that I wanted kids, and I used to think I did. But now, whether I get to be a mother doesn’t really matter to me. I think what’s more important is to have a wonderful life companion. I want to take my time, because I believe true love is worth seeking and waiting for.”
It may have been 11 years since she started her career, but Rebecca remains a breath of fresh air thanks to her confident humility and non-cynical optimism. If this is only the beginning of her life, then I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the rest of it.
PHOTOGRAPHY WEE KHIM, ASSISTED BY ALWIN OH
STYLING DARYLL ALEXIUS YEO, ASSISTED BY JEREMY TAN
HAIR GARY LOW/PASSION
MAKEUP SHAUN LEE
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