Christmas is a time for Joy and for the Singapore cast of the Crazy Rich Asians film, this year is extra special after achieving global success with their breakout blockbuster. So how will Tan Kheng Hua, Janice Koh, Amy Cheng, Selena Tan and Koh Chieng Mun be spreading their yuletide cheer? Read on to find out how exactly these stars are planning on honoring a year well-lived:
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Tan Kheng Hua, 55, FLY Entertainment Artiste
From her breakthrough on television as Margaret Phua in Phua Chu Kang to her scene-stealing turn on the big screen as Kerry Chu in breakout hit, Crazy Rich Asians, Tan Kheng Hua has always captivated audiences with her warmth, talent and exuberant personality.
As the mother of Chinese-American heroine Rachel [played by Constance Wu], Kheng shone in a role that was tailor-made for her as she, too, is a fiercely protective mum-of-one in real life.
“My daughter, Shi-An, always brings out the best in me. And I’m very flawed But Shi-An and a handful of other people, they make me feel happy with myself,” says the actress-director, who was able to channel that love into her on-screen persona.
Unsurprisingly, the star’s stellar acting chops caught the attention of myriad international talent agents, and she’s since signed up with GVA Talent Agency and Zeo Gravity Management in Los Angeles, and Conway van Gelder Grant, In London. So expect to see our local darling pick up more roles in film and television shows abroad as she transitions into a new phase of her career.
She adds that she’s been particularly touched by the recognition she has received for her work, as well as the support from family and friends over the past year, which she says has also given her a new lease of life.
For 2019, look out for her on Foreign Skies, a four-part limited series for British TV broadcaster Channel 4. Kheng will also be in the HBO film The Garden Of Evening Mists, which is based on an Asian novel of the same name.
But before that, the actress is looking forward to a well-deserved break over the Christmas holidays. “I’m going to Tokyo with my daughter,” she shares. “I turned away all work for a while so the only project I have in December is the best project possible – spending precious time with my loved ones.”
Janice Koh, 44, FLY Entertainment Artiste
A stalwart in Singapore’s entertainment scene, Janice Koh oozes charm from every pore the moment you meet her. It’s no wonder she was chosen to portray the formidable Felicity Young, sister to Eleanor Young, who was helmed by the legendary Michelle Yeoh.
“It was a real privilege to watch the work of these talented actors up close. Most of my scenes were with Michelle, who is extremely gracious and kind, especially to her crew. A true professional,” admits Janice, a respected theatre veteran herself.
While the actress says the year as a whole can be summed up in one word – “Crazy” – she’s also extremely thankful for how it has all panned out.
“It’s been a year of change for my family. One of my sons took his PSLE and my husband was going through a career change so while I usually cope with stress well, I suffered from anxiety attacks this year,” she confesses.
“I honestly didn’t expect the movie to have had the huge impact that it did, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to represent and promote a landmark film in Hollywood. It could not have been possible without FLY, the many local designers who dressed us and the hospitality of the Singapore Tourism Board.”
Heading into the holidays, Janice and her loved ones have grand plans in store. “I’m headed to New Zealand to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate a place of natural beauty. I can’t wait to decompress and just hang out with my kids and my hubby.”
On Christmas Day proper, Janice goes back to a tried and true tradition. “I have a bunch of old friends with whom we have lunch every year, together with our families. We’ve kept this up for almost two decades, including our Secret Santa gift exchange, which is the most fun part!”
Selena Tan, 47, Actress
Anyone with a phone can be dubbed an artist these days, but to be defined as an A-lister is to find yourself in another stratosphere entirely. After all, it means breathing the same rarefied air as Michelle Yeoh and Lisa Lu.
A supporting member of this club is Selena Tan, who has been upgraded to platinum member’s status since starring as Alix Cheng in Warner Bros summer hit.
“Walking on that jade carpet in Los Angeles is the stuff girls’ dreams are made of,” says Selena wistfully.
But if anything, the whole process also woke her up to an important fact. “I realised by doing this film, that there are different women in different situations all around the world and their stories are out there and they’re waiting to be told,” she says.
A mum to a four-year-old, Selena contends that her year in review consisted not only of juggling her two roles as a parent and actress, but also being part of a select group that helped to shape the world’s perception of our home.
“It was important to me how Singapore was portrayed to the world,” explains actress who rose to fame in Dick Lee-musical Dim Sum Dollies.
“It was a gift to be able to be part of this movie. I consider it a present to myself because on top of everything else that I was blessed with this year, I also got to be part of Crazy Rich Asians.”
For the jolly season, the actress is looking forward to bonding with her family but more excitedly, she’s ready to take on the future by its horns.
When asked about the possibility of future sequels to what is undoubtedly the movie of the year, Selena had this to share: “Whether its Crazy Rich Asians two, three, four, five or six… bring them on!”
Koh Chieng Mun, 59, Actress and Radio DJ
A breast cancer diagnosis took her away from the spotlight for a couple of years but what a comeback this veteran actress has made since.
As Neena Goh on Crazy Rich Asians, Chieng Mun made her triumphant return to film as the unapologetically garish, Singlish-speaking mother of Peik Lin [played by American rapper-comedian Awkwafina].
“To think that little old me could have a chance to walk down the red carpet of a Hollywood production, that was surreal, and a highlight of my year,” says Chieng Mun of the moment she shared with her co-stars at the Mann Chinese Theatre, where the film’s American premier took place.
“I’m going to turn 60-years-old next year and I thought at my age, well, my career is over but with the film’s success, it’s all beginning again. So, next year can only get better and better from here!”
Away from the buzz of the big screen, the actress-cum-radio DJ is looking forward to a busy year-end.
“From November onwards, there will be lots of parties, all the way till Chinese New Year. It’s always a nice period because that’s when I get the chance to meet up with my friends and spend a whole three months just eating,” she exclaims.
What’s next for the multi-talented star? A cooking show is said to be in the works for 2019. “I’ve always been interested in whipping up food for a crowd so I thought ‘Why not do a series of videos to help people prepare for the festive season?’” Chieng Mun explains.
Aiming for a spring debut, the actress is planning on uploading four short YouTube videos that focus on dishes that will bring good luck and prosperity for feasting families during the Lunar celebrations.
Amy Cheng, 48, FLY Entertainment Artiste & Creative Director of ACT3 Theatrics
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Amy as she recovers not only from the success of the film that was on everyone’s lips this summer, but also from the realities of confronting certain truths about herself.
“This year has been one huge, intense rollercoaster ride and I came out of it just knowing myself better. I felt really empowered as well from that whole experience of being in Crazy Rich Asians,” says Amy.
“There comes a time in your life when you’re in this industry for so long that sometimes you lose a little bit of the spark but everything has been reset, and I felt that I saw everything with new eyes.”
The actress who endeared herself to the public as Karen Tay on 90’s hit show Growing Up adds that a renewed sense of passion infused her work after the film wrapped up and that the experience made her grow by leaps and bounds as a person.
While playing the character of Jacqueline Ling, Eleanor Young’s arch nemesis, also allowed her to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, it was the fans who truly held court in the actress’s heart.
“One memorable moment that stood out for me was when the cast came together to record a video for a Filipino fan of the film, Vincent, who was suffering from cancer. The gesture really struck me because it felt like the things that we do as artists matter on that personal level,” explains the mother-of-two.
Next year, Amy hopes the pace will be less intense but before that happens, she’ll be jetting off to Japan to celebrate Christmas with her loved ones. “I want to take time to just chill and be myself; drop all the baggage I’ve been holding onto the past year and look forward to the next one.”
Art Direction: Ivy Choong
Photos: Zaphs Zhang
Styling: Neo Lirong, Assisted by Shantal Chan
Hair: Ash Loi
Makeup: Han Chew, Ginger Lynette & Dollei Seah/MakeupEntourage using Dior
Shot on location at Intercontinental Hotel Robertson Quay
The JOY by Dior Blindfold Test
5 Crazy Rich Asians‘ actresses, 5 different takes on what JOY means to them. Watch what happens when we let our ladies give in to their senses after a whiff of Dior’s latest fragrance.
Almost 20 years since Maison Dior launched J’adore in 1999, it’s time for another icon to join its fragrance family. An ode to pleasure and happiness, the debut of JOY by Dior marks a new chapter in the fashion house’s illustrious history.
A vibrant burst of white flowers tinged with a kiss of citrus fruits alongside a whisper of creamy sandalwood – the feeling of sheer delight has finally been captured in a scent. JOY by Dior speaks to the confident, passionate and carefree woman in all of us.
Indulge in a ritual of pleasure with each spritz of JOY by Dior, an eau de parfum that has been described by its creator as “an olfactory interpretation of light”. Brought to life by perfumer Francois Demachy, this is “a fragrance that you don’t explain, you simply feel”.