In person, Ms Emma Lee looks every bit the smiling, flag-waving National Day Parade spectator who charmed television viewers with her eye-catching looks.
That she managed to hog the Internet spotlight – and have the media scrambling to uncover her identity in the aftermath – has made the experience even more surreal for the Chengdu native.
“It has been a crazy couple of days for me,” the 29-year-old confessed to The Straits Times in an exclusive face-to-face interview. “I never expected to become one of the talking points of such an important event in Singapore’s history.”
Ms Lee, who came to Singapore five years ago to pursue a Master of Business Administration, appeared at least five times on TV throughout Sunday’s two-hour extravaganza. She was attending her first parade, which happened to fall on her Chinese lunar calendar birthday this year, with her mother after they were invited by their Singaporean friends.
Dressed in an elegant red ensemble with a matching white pearl necklace, she was spotted waving the Singapore flag enthusiastically and singing along to National Day theme songs.
Netizens have likened her impact to now-famous South Korean newscaster Jang Ye Won, who became an Internet sensation when she was caught on camera at last year’s World Cup in Brazil.
“It is flattering, but intimidating at the same time,” said Ms Lee, revealing that she has received – and rejected – more than 100 friend requests on her social media accounts since Sunday.
Ms Lee is keen to dispel the notion that she is merely a pretty foreigner, having set up her own company – SinMetal International – two years ago.
The firm deals in the trade and supply of aluminium products and currently employs five workers, three of whom are Singaporean.
“I am someone who is independent, driven and not afraid – the very image of a modern career woman,” said Ms Lee, who is
single. On her decision to move to Singapore, she said that its diversity, multiculturalism and image as a clean and safe country were big attractions.
She has adapted well to life in Singapore and enjoys local delights such as durian, chicken rice and satay. In her spare time, she plays golf and volunteers at community organisations and homes for the elderly.
“Singapore is virtually my home now,” she said. “Thinking back, it was the right choice to grow my roots here.”