Felicia Chin has come a long way. “When I was 18, right before I joined Star Search, I auditioned for a commercial and it was filmed right here in this area, in one of the houses at Emerald Hill,” she gushes.
“I remember finishing early because I was just an extra, so I didn’t have many scenes to shoot, and walking down this road feeling really happy that I made $50 for a two-hour job. Fast forward 17 years and I’m back here doing a cover shoot! I’ve come pretty far, haven’t I?”
Indeed she has. Just one year after that initial commercial, the young ingénue was crowned champion at Star Search 2003 at the tender age of 19. She followed up that win by starring in local drama, The Champion, alongside Fiona Xie and Jeanette Aw in what was the highest-rated television series at the time.
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The public sat up and took notice and so did the critics. Since then, Felicia has consistently featured in the list of Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes at the Star Awards, and recently nabbed her ninth gong in the category last April.
“To be honest, I was surprised when I won. Some people ask me ‘Why are you even still surprised?’ but for me, winning is never a surety. I’m always thankful to have been nominated and then to win as well,” she says.
“I’m not a perfect person, I’m continually learning and growing”
“I’m not a perfect person. I’m continually learning as an actress and growing as a person, so each win is a stepping stone towards achieving that, and each role is a challenge I give myself.”
One of the ways she’s able to propel that growth was to leave the glitz and glamour of show business altogether in 2011. She decided to further her studies, just as her career was taking off.
“It’s quite easy to lose yourself in this industry, especially when you start off at a young age like I did. I focused a lot on being someone that I wasn’t, someone that people expected me to be perhaps. I didn’t see it at the time but stepping away from the limelight helped me to understand this,” shares Felicia.
“It was nice to look at the entertainment industry from the point of view of an outsider. I called it a sabbatical, but this was kind of frowned upon back then. People were like ‘Why are you leaving? You won’t get your career back’, but it was good for me to take a step back, before returning in 2014.”
The 34-year-old says the time away also helped her realise her passion for acting, and shapes the kind of projects she takes on to this day.
“I try to pick roles that are a little bit more insightful now and that take me out of my comfort zone. The character I play in my current drama, Old Is Gold, for example is a nurse who is living with a lot of guilt and shame, and the character I play opposite Pierre Png in Dear Neighbours is a married woman who has an affair,” she explains.
“These roles are a little bit unconventional because they portray people who have very real, everyday problems. You might meet these people on the street. People who are stumbling around in life but are trying to pick up the pieces.”
Championing The Needy
Felicia does her bit to help further the causes of those in need in real life, too, as a Goodwill Ambassador for World Vision Singapore.
A sponsor of six children from Myanmar, West Bank, and Zambia, she feels deeply for underprivileged children and is committed to bringing hope and help to them. She recently met her sponsored children in Myanmar in February.
“I’m honoured to be able to use my platform as a public figure to shine a light on children living in poverty and who need our help. We’re really blessed in Singapore that we want for nothing a lot of the time but that isn’t the case for many others around the world,” Felicia shares.
“Giving is from the heart with no strings attached”
“I left with my heart so full from the warmth and love I received from the kids whom I met in Myanmar earlier this year. They have very little in the way of possessions but they are so giving. When they say ‘thank you’ to you, they mean it from the bottom of their heart.”
She clasps my hand as she says this, eyes full of emotion. It’s little wonder that the actress is known in entertainment circles for wearing her heart on her sleeve.
“I don’t do charity work because I want to show that I have a big heart,” she explains. “I just think that if we can extend a helping hand to those in need, we should. Giving is from the heart with no strings attached.”
Fashion Direction: Janice Pidduck
Photos: Joel Lim/Calibre Pictures
Styling: Grace Lim, assisted by Pricilia Chan
Hair: David Gan/Passion Hair Salon
Makeup: Agnes Ng, using Shiseido
Location: Alley Bar & Acid Bar
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