On Doris: Top, Uniqlo. Skirt, stylist’s own. Bag, Bonia. On Julie: Dress, Shanghai Tang. Slides, Pedder Red.

Julie Tan’s mum is a big fan of her cooking skills. Besides acting, the 24-year-old Singaporean actress has always had a passion for cooking.

“I’ve been cooking since I was a kid,” reveals Tan who’s joined us for an exclusive Mother’s Day photoshoot with her mum Doris Khaw. “We had a helper at home so whenever she was cooking, I would go into the kitchen to learn from her.”

The foodie — who counts pesto pasta, steaks and garlic lemon chicken as her top dishes — usually celebrates Mother’s Day at home. “I’ll cook for my family because I know that the restaurants are going to be very packed on Mother’s Day,” says Tan. “It’ll be very squeezy and quite rush for the family to enjoy so we’ll probably have steak and wine at home.”

Related: How I met your mother: The women behind these rising Singapore stars

Celebrating Mother’s Day this month, we at Her World Plus have organised a special photoshoot for three pairs of gorgeous mothers and daughters. The idea: to recreate old childhood photos. When we contacted Tan, she was immediately thrilled.

“My mum and I had always wanted to do this but we didn’t have the time,” says Tan. “So when this opportunity came up, we were excited to finally do it.”

In between poses, we sat down with Tan to chat about her upcoming movie Wonder Boys (which includes a steamy bedroom scene with dishy co-star Benjamin Kheng), her much talked-about departure from Mediacorp, her contemplations on plastic surgery and her plans for the future (psst, it’s going to be a big national event).

On how she intends to celebrate Mother’s Day this year

“I’m still planning because she’s always busy and she travels frequently. In fact, she’s already booked a holiday for herself. She’s always saying that as long as I’m healthy, every day can be Mother’s Day so there’s no need to have a special day to celebrate.”

On what she likes about her mum

“She was very strict with me when I was young and so, I was like a ‘rebel’ and I liked challenging my mum. She had no idea I was making funny faces in the childhood photos (above and below) and since we were using disposable cameras, she only found out after the photos were developed.

She would always comment on how I should’ve posed properly. But thankfully, her strictness had taught me to be a disciplined person.”

On Julie: Top and shorts, Uniqlo. Sandals, Teva at Pedder on Scotts. On Doris: T-shirt, shorts and belt, Uniqlo. Watch, Swatch. Sandals, Teva at Pedder on Scotts.

On the most memorable Mother’s Day gift for her mum

“My mum’s an avid golfer and one year, she was telling me how her body ached after her games. So, I bought her a massage chair from OSIM and requested for it to be delivered to my house on the morning of Mother’s Day. She was surprised by it and since then, she’s been using it.”

On her first clubbing experience

“My mum was the one who brought me to a club when I was 16 but there wasn’t any drinking. I remember seeing other girls in the restroom who were drunk and she reminded me not to end up like this because boys may then take advantage of the situation. Since then, I’ve always brought her with me when I go clubbing and now, she even parties with my friends. She’s very fun to be with.”

On her parents’ thoughts on her as an actress

“They weren’t entirely convinced at first but after seeing the dramas and movies that I’d starred in, they saw my passion in acting. From then, they’ve slowly allowed me to continue pursuing my interests.”

Related: 6 high and low moments of Star Awards 2017

On taking a break last year to study at New York Film Academy

“My mum was very encouraging when I told her I wanted to study overseas. For some artistes, fame may be their end goal. For me, I’ve always wanted to focus on my life journey, as well as exposing myself to different opportunities.

Which is why I tell myself: ‘If I’m constantly scared of my future, I’ll never accomplish anything.’”

On going under the knife

“I made my acting debut when I was 18 years old and back then, a lot of people criticised my looks. Some said my forehead was too high, my breasts looked too small, and my nose was so flat.

These comments made me feel that I never looked good enough so I thought of going for plastic surgery to make my nose sharper and enlarge my boobs.

My mum eventually brought me to a plastic surgeon for consultation but I decided not to do it. I was too afraid to go under the knife and I’m terrified of pain. I also told myself that if I were to change my look, it would be disrespectful to my parents because they gave me my looks.

At the same time, I didn’t want to send a negative message to the young generation. Instead of being too harsh with ourselves, why don’t we embrace who we are? We don’t have to change anything about ourselves to make others love us.”

On dealing with criticism

“I once read this theory about how criticism and mistreatment can be seen as garbage. So now, whenever I see negative comments, I’ve learned to treat them as garbage and move on with life. I’ll avoid it because nobody wants to have garbage thrown at their faces, right?”

On her upcoming movie titled Wonder Boys

“I play Linda who’s one of the love interests of the character played by Benjamin Kheng. She’s very much like me during my ‘rebel’ phase. She’s confident, she knows what she wants and she’ll go for it.

In the film, you’ll see that she’s very vulnerable but she always masks it. I like playing characters with depth because it’s not easy to handle darker emotions on screen.”

On how she prepared for the role

“I watched a lot of ‘70s inspired videos on Youtube and listened to Dick Lee’s songs to get into my character. Sometimes before filming, I would listen to some of his songs like Life Story in my hotel room.

Thankfully, the set was also very realistic and beautiful. Once I’d stepped in, I immediately sank into the whole atmosphere and acted naturally.”

On Doris: Cardigan, Uniqlo. Skirt, stylist’s own. Bag, Tory Burch. Sneakers, Ash. On Julie: Jacket and jeans, H&M. Sneakers, Ash.

On what her mum feels about filming intimate scenes on screen

“I don’t consult her when I agree to such scenes and I’ll usually tell her after filming them. In fact, there’s a sex scene in Wonder Boys and I didn’t tell her beforehand. Her advice for me is: ‘If a guy ever tries to do anything funny like force his tongue on you, just bite it!’”  

On her first on-screen bed scene

“Benjamin’s a very interesting, talented and charming actor. We became close friends while we filmed Wonder Boys. We shot the bed scene in the earlier part of the production when we barely knew each other so it was quite stressful.

It was funny too because our bodies were quite far apart during the first few takes. But after the whole process, we bonded immediately.

We also shot a music video titled Fried Rice Paradise and it’ll be out in June 2017. I don’t have any singing scenes in Wonder Boys because my character doesn’t sing but I get to sing in this video so look out for it!”

Related: Cold stare, sweet smooches and more Star Awards backstage drama

On going home empty handed at this year’s Star Awards

“I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to win an award this year. As much as I respect the Top 10 Most Favourite Artiste award’s voting system and tradition, I told my fans and mum not to vote for me.

This was because of an encounter last year. I was shopping one day and a mother came up to me and told me that her daughter spent $3,000 to vote for me. She said: ‘We had to pay for the phone bill just for you to get your popularity award. If I ever wanted to know who’s really popular, I could’ve just gone to Instagram and judge it for myself.’

I felt very bad at that moment and it suddenly hit me — what she said was true. So I asked myself was it necessary for my fans to spend so much money. I told my fans that I won’t be sad if I don’t get the award.”

On her plans after leaving Mediacorp

“It wasn’t an easy decision. Before announcing it, I’d told some of my friends so the news didn’t shock them. Personally, I do things without explaining for myself. I have a strong character and I like to have control over the things that I do so I think it’s better for me to manage myself for now. Who knows, I might be my own boss one day!

There are plans for the future and it’ll involve something other than acting. I’ve never done it before and it’s a national event so I’m very honoured to be part of it. To me, I want to experience different things as an actress so I’d like to see where life brings me to.

Even though I’ll no longer be under Mediacorp’s management, it doesn’t mean that I won’t participate in their dramas. I’m still open to working with them in the future.”

On dealing with the future’s uncertainties

“Nothing is certain in life so I tell myself, ‘What makes you think that by staying on and doing what you’re doing now will guarantee you the things that you want?’ So I told myself why not try something different because I don’t want to live with regrets.”

Related: Why so serious in black and white? We love these bold bright outfits at Star Awards 2017

Creative direction: Hayden Ng
Photography: Frenchescar Lim
Styling: Debby Kwong
Makeup: Zhou Aiyi using Tom Ford
Hair: Sharon Chin at Duo