straits times rebecca lim

Photo: The Straits Times

When Rebecca Lim fills out passenger arrival forms while travelling, she doesn't put "actress" under occupation.

"I put 'self-employed'," she says.

Why, I ask.

"I don't know," she laughs. "Writing 'actress' is a bit strange. I guess I also don't want to be asked about it."

Today, though, I'm plying her with questions about what it's like to be one of Singapore's top TV actresses, and certainly its most marketable star at the moment.

In April, Lim won her second Best Actress accolade at the annual Mediacorp Star Awards for her role as a wardrobe assistant-turned-director in the drama The Lead. Her first Best Actress award was in 2015.

The fresh-faced actress is also a marketer's darling, fronting brands like Mercedes-Benz and Goldheart jewellery.

She's chosen to eat at Akira Back, a Japanese restaurant at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach. The dimly-lit eatery has plush sofas and trendy artwork. I'm early and the waitress leads me to a table at the back.

I'm fiddling with my phone when Lim arrives with her manager.

She's wearing a black, off-shoulder Fendi dress with a cinched waist and flared skirt, and Fendi heels.

She is dazzlingly pretty. Her skin is smooth, her jawline defined and her famous long hair is black, glossy and centre-parted. She smiles a lot and when she does, her eyes crinkle and her face lights up.

 

straits times rebecca lim

Photo: The Straits Times

She has a reputation for being friendly and down-to-earth and doesn't disappoint at this interview.

She comes across as unpretentious and relatable, self-deprecatingly describing herself as "boring" and "not there yet" in terms of her acting.

She says she doesn't eat out much. Her go-to places include Hua Ting at Orchard Hotel for the dim sum.

"I always go to familiar places. I try to eat at home when I can. My whole family are very, very good cooks - except me."

 

A post shared by Rebecca Lim 林慧玲 (@limrebecca) on

She orders sashimi don and I follow suit. Her manager Carolyn opts for fish and I get a tuna pizza to share.

She reminds me that our paths had in fact crossed some seven years ago, at Narita Airport.

 

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She was in Tokyo with actor Pierre Png to do a shoot for the Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo. Png, whom I had interviewed before, had said hello. "So I saw you from afar," she says.

I do remember the encounter and also how I didn't know at the time who the actress with Png was.

 

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Back in 2011, she was up-and-coming with several English and Chinese drama roles to her name. She was a face to watch but not a star. She is now what entertainment scribes call an A-lister.

But being a celebrity today has changed from in the 1980s and 1990s when actresses like Zoe Tay and Fann Wong were part of the national consciousness.

TV is no longer a main form of entertainment and actresses have to fight with the Internet's legion of self-created celebrities - bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers - for fame.

She's well aware of this.

"My generation is caught in-between," she says. With the Internet, people have moved away from TV. "You don't get the Zoes and the Fanns anymore. It's different now."

At 31, she is also caught between that generation of Mediacorp stars tagged the Seven Princesses, like Joanne Peh and Rui En who are now in their mid-30s, and those much younger like Carrie Wong.

"I'm in the middle. Not the Seven Princesses and not the newer actresses in their 20s either."

 

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