Before last week, Jae Liew was a 22-year-old fashion sales assistant going about her own business.

But since last Friday, she has become a newsmaker, being interviewed by various media outlets after it was revealed that she has won the female lead role in actress-turned-director Michelle Chong's new movie, 3 Peas In A Pod.

Liew, who has never acted before and had auditioned for the role without telling anyone, says she is still trying to come to terms with getting the part.


Photo: Huat Films

"I was so shocked when I was told that I was chosen. I really did not expect it at all."

She was handpicked out of more than 800 hopefuls during open auditions held here last month.

Liew, who graduated with a communications degree from Australia's Murdoch University last year, adds that although she had "no expectations" going into the auditions, she was "surprisingly not nervous" during the session.

All audition participants were given a brief script to read out in Mandarin and English, and were also asked to cry on cue.

Liew says: "I was actually not that nervous. I just went in and kept my focus on what I was doing. I was actually more concerned about not messing up, so there was no time to feel nervous.

"To cry on the spot was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to do it somehow. The scene that we had to do was a rather sad and emotional one, so I just tried to put myself in the shoes of the character and the tears flowed."

She says that she went for the audition without telling anyone because she wanted to "try something completely different and see whether I could possibly have any potential in acting. If I didn't get the part, then no one would ever have to find out."

Adding to her excitement is the fact that she will be acting opposite two heart-throbs - Alexander Lee Eusebio, 24, a K-pop star formerly of U-Kiss, and Taiwanese singer Calvin Chen, 32, who is part of popular boyband Fahrenheit.

She says with a laugh: "I'm definitely a fan of their music and it's only normal for any girl to think that they are really hot."

According to director Chong, Liew may have an intimate scene with one of the two men, though she declines to say which one.

Asked which of the men she would choose, Liew says with a laugh: "Of course, I don't have a preference for either, but if Michelle writes an intimate scene in, then, of course, I'm fine with it. You just have to do what you have got to do."

3 Peas In A Pod, which begins shooting in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Adelaide next month, is a $1.7-million work about three university friends whose lives are changed following a road trip together.

It is Chong's second directorial feature, following her debut Already Famous (2011), which is Singapore's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar this season.

Chong, 35, says that there was "something about Jae's bubbly personality" that spoke to her during the auditions.

She adds: "When she first came into the room, I didn't think much because there were a lot of other pretty girls. But once she started acting, I was really impressed. She was very natural and her ability to deliver the lines was truly outstanding for someone who has not had any acting experience."

Liew's father is a financial controller and her mother is a director in the hospitality industry. She has an older brother who is a civil servant. They declined to be interviewed but she says that her parents are "extremely happy" for her.

"My dad looked at me with approval and my mum gave me three big hugs. They were really excited for me."

She also has had to deal with shrieks and exclamations from a lot of "very shocked and excited friends".

With a chuckle, she says: "My friends wanted to kill me for keeping everything a secret from them. They couldn't believe it and just kept on going, 'oh my god, oh my god'. And, of course, they want me to say hi to Alexander and Calvin for them."

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on February 4, 2012. For similar stories, go
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