Zoe Tay, the Queen of Caldecott Hill tells Aretha Loh about Instagram, ageing and who should be the next Ah Jie.
She’s finally jumped on the social media bandwagon.
Zoe got her Instagram account up and running (@zoetay10) in December last year – at the behest of other artistes’ fans.
She shares that when Xiang Yun, her co-star in You Can Be An Angel Too, posted pictures of the cast on Instagram, her followers had left comments urging Zoe to start her own account. “It was also surprising to hear fans telling me that they knew about my upcoming dramas through co-stars who had posted behind-the-scene shots on Instagram,” says Zoe.
To date, she has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram. Who does she follow? Actor and host Dennis Chew, actor and BFF Chen Hanwei, celeb hairstylist David Gan, local model Sheila Sim and American pop sensation Taylor Swift, among others.
She’s totally chill when she hears that she looks less radiant on screen these days.
“After being in this industry for so many years, I’m proud of my age (she’s 47) and experience. I’m not averse to ageing as it happens to everyone. I think it’s important that we are comfortable with ourselves and continue to have passion for the work that we do,” says Zoe, who is currently filming the sequel to The Dream Makers. The Dream Makers, which aired in 2013 and won the Best Drama Serial award at the 2014 Star Awards, gave viewers a glimpse into the world of local showbiz.
Zoe played Zhou Weiyun, the head of the variety unit at fictional TV station VBS and the love interest of Chen Hanwei’s character. Rather than worrying about her looks, Zoe, the mother of three boys aged 10, seven and four, is more concerned about getting roles that audiences can relate to and adding depth to the characters she plays.
“The excitement comes from the challenge of making each character interesting and realistic at the same time, instead of just looking good,” says Zoe. She also confesses that she heads straight home to rest after the day’s filming is done, because she’s no longer as energetic as she used to be.
She’s open to playing all sorts of characters.
In the drama series Double Bonus (2012), she played a woman possessed by the spirit of a cheeky, mischievous boy – a role she considers her most challenging to date. In fact, the veteran nearly withdrew from it.
She shares: “During the first two weeks of filming, I was very moody because I was struggling to portray this child-like character. Finally, I let go of my pride and inhibitions, and played the part like I was supposed to.” She was too embarrassed to watch the show when it first aired, but was “thoroughly surprised by the good reviews it got from the media”.
She thinks Rebecca Lim is in line to be the next Ah Jie.
“She’s well liked and hard-working, and has a classy demeanour. In her early days, she had it tough because she wasn’t fluent in Mandarin; it aff ected her acting, but she continued to work hard. When she took on the role of a reporter in Poetic Justice (2012), she memorised her lines so diligently that she could still remember them months after filming ended. Now, she’s very natural on screen,” says Zoe.
She wants to raise awareness about sexual assault.
When the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) approached Zoe and asked her to be the face of its sexual assault awareness campaign last year, she agreed without hesitation. Aware had wanted a face that the public is familiar with to assure them that the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) – which has a hotline (6779-0282) that runs from 10am to midnight, and a drop-in centre that provides a safe space for victims to receive counselling and help – is a reliable avenue of help for victims of sexual assault, and who better to front it than the Queen of Caldecott Hill?
“Women tend to stay in abusive relationships because they feel it’s their responsibility to stick by their choices and their kids, and this makes it harder for them to get help,” says Zoe, who played the role of an abused wife in Man at Forty (2004). “As a woman, I can relate to [the abused women’s] pain, fear and insecurity even though I’ve not experienced [abuse] first-hand. I want to encourage them to seek help.”
PHOTOGRAPHY: WEE KHIM, STYLING: JOHNNY KHOO, HAIR: DAVID GAN/PASSION HAIR SALON, MAKEUP: CINDY GOH, USING CLE DE PEAU BEAUTE, DRESS: BOTTEGA VENETA, JACKET: ISSEY MIYAKE
This story was originally published in Her World magazine April 2015.
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