Theatre professional Tan Hui Er tells quintessentially Singapore stories – from teenage struggles, to social issues and taboos – that are often not heard, through the channel, Not Safe For TV (NSFTV).
Creating social impact through her work has been close to Hui Er’s heart ever since her theatre days, but the idea to converge the two took root when she majored in film making at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication. Hui Er and her friend Ben Yeo hit upon the concept of a web series, where every episode would be shot within a day, and in one take. Creative video agency The Hummingbird Co. signed them on as the idea behind One Take was hinged very closely to their rebranding plans for their social media-driven channel, NSFTV. “The values that the channel was built on was what we pride ourselves in as creatives,” says Hui Er. Today, it boasts 21.8K and almost 33K followers on Instagram and Facebook respectively.
Hui Er understands that it would be naive to think that a video or a theatre piece could completely change someone’s life, but she is clear that having conversations about social issues is imperative, and that “when there is a platform available to you, one might as well use it for good”. NSFTV works closely with many social organisations and has even done a film on “living in sin”, which was in fact commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board.
“We’ve been lucky to have clients who are keen on talking about such issues on the channel because they trust that we can handle the issues delicately,” says Hui Er. She hopes that with the growing interest among young people about social issues, the connections she is able to make through her films will also bring more brands on board.
Hui Er counts herself lucky for being given the creative freedom to focus on closed-door topics, but she admits having to negotiate at times because of her gender and age. “We live in a patriarchal society where stories have always been told through a male gaze,” she says, explaining the notions she seeks to challenge through her work.
Not boxing herself has so far been the game plan in her career – although a part of her yearns for the visceral experience of theatre. For the moment, she is content living an inspired life through her profiles and the people who work alongside her to bring those stories to life.
PHOTOGRAPHY Makiyo Lio
CREATIVE DIRECTION Windy Aulia
STYLING Debby Kwong
HAIR Aung Apichai, using Kevin.Murphy
MAKEUP Nikki Fu, using Urban Decay
FLOWERS Charlotte Puxley
Cotton dress, Kate Spade New York
This article was first published in the April 2021 issue of Her World.