Photo: Phyllicia Wang, MM2 Entertainment

She may have gone through a break-up just before she left for the New York Film Academy in the United States in June, but local actress Julie Tan came out of it unfazed.

“I am the kind of person who believes that if it is not working, then it is just not working,” she told The New Paper.

“I think it was easier for me because I realised the relationship was not working before it actually ended, so mentally, I had already checked out (of the relationship),” the 24-year-old said.

TNP met Tan in Penang on one of the sets of Dick Lee and Daniel Yam’s movie production of Wonder Boys.

Tan plays Linda, the love interest of the character played by local singer Benjamin Kheng.

She said: “Generally, I am a very career-minded person. So even before I left, I kept focusing on work. And when I was there, I went into (the acting course) full force.

“I actually met a few cute guys in my class, but I was so fixated on doing well in the course that I wasn’t interested in all that.”

Tan, who will start filming the Channel 8 drama The Lead this week, was in New York for four months as she took up a course in Acting for Film and Scene Study. She returned to Singapore earlier this month.


She said: “I learnt a lot while I was there and thankfully, I did quite well.

“I remember the first day I was there – our lecturer told us to memorise a two-page script in two hours and told us that the task would determine if we go to A class, which is the better class, or B class.”

She did well enough to get into the better class.

“So, thinking back to my whole experience, I think it is safe to say the course broke down my confidence and built it back up again. That’s a great feeling, because I now feel like I can do so much more with what I have learnt.”

The Malaysian-born actress revealed that adapting to her new environment proved to be tough.

She said: “I had no one when I was there, so I had to do and figure out everything on my own, but it helped me become a more independent woman.

“I took the time to work on myself and I was inspired by things that I saw, such as the buskers at the subway.”

Tan said the thing she missed the most was what she never really craves for when she is home.

She said: “I really missed our food. I don’t usually go hunting for food, but on the second day I was there, I started craving local food such as bak chor mee, sambal stingray and bak kut teh.”

When asked if diving straight into work upon her return has been tiring, Tan said “not at all”.

“Being away was somewhat a break away from work so the moment I arrived, I was game to start working on projects pronto.

“It is exciting and I love it.”

He is set to take centre stage for his debut film, but local singer Benjamin Kheng from The Sam Willows has not washed his hands of music.

“The band and I are still constantly exchanging thoughts on our music,” he told The New Paper.

Kheng, 26, spoke to TNP on Friday in Penang, where he is filming Wonder Boys, a movie inspired by the experiences Singapore icon Dick Lee had during his teens in the 1970s.

But he is never far from his music.

“I brought my keyboard with me and set up a little work station to work on some stuff for our upcoming album,” he said.

Kheng was based in the Malaysian state for a month to film the movie, which is due to be released next August.

“I’m very interested in storytelling and this (move into film) is just another avenue to do what I’m really passionate about,” he said.

“But the band is still very much in action. We’re planning to release the album in the first quarter of next year.”

This is not the first time Kheng is playing Lee. He did so four years ago for the Esplanade -Theatres on the Bay’s 10th anniversary musical, National Broadway Company.

He said: “I was prepared, but that doesn’t mean it was easier because this film is very different. It’s deeper and darker, so understanding the emotions is vital, and I hope I managed to capture that and put it across to the viewers.”


That was not all that made up the “crazy sense of pressure”.

“I’m playing a guy who is very much alive, and to have him be one of the two directing the film – it’s quite a lot of pressure,” Kheng said.

“Dick has helped me a lot along the way. We worked quite closely when picking and choosing what I should do, and what I should interpret (on my own) based on the character.”

The film is likely to open new doors for the former Singapore Sports School student, but he is determined to be more picky with his projects.

“I’m keen on delving into acting. The only difference is that I’ve to start being picky and take on what would really fulfil me as an artist.”


The original version of this story was published in The New Paper on October 31, 2016

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