I was recently asked what it's like balancing a blog, university, freelance web design and the beginnings of an acting career. Is it fun? Absolutely. Do I sleep? Absolutely not.
Here's a summary of my two weeks in Singapore between visiting family and my summer study abroad:
The day after landing in Singapore, I was planning a photoshoot for my blog. In one day, the photos were shot by JB, my blog post was edited and the spread was published. That was Thursday. The following day was spent memorising monologues and practising a musical piece like my future depended on it, which it did. On Saturday, I took a taxi to a house in 'burbs that looked as though it belonged in Bel Air. After a several-hour shoot, I rushed over to a film fitting in torrential rain. Sunday was the Big Day. The audition that would get me two steps closer to grad school. I was ready. I was excited. I was relaxed and collected until the moment I walked through the stage door. Sigh. We'll see how that turned out next month, I suppose.
The next two weeks were the whirlwind I'd been waiting for. After doing a shoot for an international commercial that I won't give too many details about (because I forgot whether I signed a non-disclosure agreement, eish), I started working on a commissioned website for an acting school, trying to get a first draft done to show the client as soon as possible. I had two days of focus before the big bonanza descended on my life and upended my sleep schedule: Crazy. Rich. Asians.
Also known as Eight Days of Energy Drinks.
The first week started with a 4:30am call time and 16 hour days. Every few hours, the cast members would be brought to set surrounded by a flurry of a hair and makeup team. I was squealing internally but I'm a professional so I obviously looked nonchalant 24/7, hon hon hon. I can't say much, but I can tell you that Gemma Chan is even more stunning when you're standing a few inches away from her, in a totally not creepy way at all. Sonoya Mizuno and Harry Shum Jr. are such spectacular performers, and the director, John M. Chu, is the chillest dude ever and a total machine considering how little sleep he got. In short, I was like a grown ass woman at Disneyland, trying to control her inner joy.
You know when people talk about how their favourite books come to life in their heads? For the first time, this was happening right before my eyes. I was so excited to see some of my favourite scenes from Crazy Rich Asians come to life, and to see how the casting directors went above and beyond with finding the perfect actors for the roles. I knew from the shots I could see on the monitor that seeing it on the big screen would just blow my mind all over again. I thrived off of being surrounded by such talented people, who were clearly so thrilled with the work they were doing, no matter how hard it was. I spoke at length to the set designer, a humble genius of a man who explained all the thought and subtle layers that went into it, and I was completely in awe. Even though I was just an extra, a little part of a huge production, it was one of those magic moments that reaffirmed my passion and my desire to succeed as an actor. If I could keep doing this for the rest of my life, I would be overjoyed. Anyway, before I wax lyrical about my hopes and aspirations, let me get back to the story.
The first week was day scenes, which meant early wake-ups but still a sense of connection to the outside world. The second week, I went nocturnal. It was as though my body had flown to New York without me. I got home after sunrise, saw my boyfriend for 20 minutes before he went to work and then I promptly went to sleep. Our start time was late afternoon/early evening, which one would think is enough time to get rest during the day, but one would be underestimating how annoying my brain is. Instead of sleeping, it decided to replay the past twelve hours, accompanied by the pleasant tune of hydraulic drills, vacuum cleaners and chatty housemates. I probably only slept a full day once; the other days required mid-morning wake-ups to submit and collect my Korean visa, as well as another photoshoot.
On the final day of the CRA shoot, I also had an editorial shoot with Female Magazine, my genuine favourite in Singapore. Their September issue is profiling diverse beauty, and one of their writers reached out to me through this site to participate. After an email interview, I went to a studio at the Singapore Press Holdings offices, where I had my hair and makeup done. I donned a very very very red suit, which when combined with my hairstyle, gave the shoot a very Japanese 2000s look that I was really feeling. I can't wait to see the photos when they come out, and I'm so grateful to Isabel for contacting me about it!
After the shoot, with only an hour to get home, drop my katundus and haul-ass to set, I was running out the door and wiping off my dramatic makeup in the uber, only to reapply it seconds later. The uber driver understandably gave me a few odd stares. By the time everything wrapped, I was near comatose. I had only Saturday to rest before I had to pack all my bags for my flight to Seoul on Sunday evening, and get settled there before class started on Tuesday, all whilst fighting off a sleep-deprivation flu. I feel tired just re-reading this, so you can imagine how I felt then. I was utterly exhausted but the thing is, I loved every single second of it. I barely touched down in Seoul before I was looking for more opportunities and shooting off hella emails because I couldn't wait to get back to work again.
That's the amazing thing about all this - no matter how much it drains me, I still feel more alive whilst acting and modelling than any other thing. Many people think that the enemy of creativity is exhaustion. It's not. Exhaustion is an indication that you've gone further than you even thought you could. The real enemy is lethargy, which is why so many creative people are scared of slowing down, lest we lose the momentum altogether. It's also the reason why so many of us get burnt out and end up exactly in the place we feared the most, that awful sphere of inactivity.
I've been there a lot. I was there for the entirety of 2016 for my Youtube page. It's not a fun place to be, but it's unnervingly easy to get to. I don't care what you think, Netflix is not your friend, my guy. Its temptation is too great. In trying to be productive, I tend to the other extreme. I keep myself up and night and rise far too early, because my mind is endlessly cycling over everything I want to accomplish. I get into this frenzied state, especially after coming across a huge job opportunity, seeing someone far younger than me succeeding tremendously, or getting one too many un-replied emails. It usually ends with a rambling phone call to my mum, where I likely break the record for the world's longest running sentence. However, my mum has always cut in at the best moment to remind me of the most important thing:
1. Commit your plans to God,
2. And remember to breathe.
I'm trying my best to breathe more, Netflix less, and to stay hydrated (which is an endless struggle on its own). So far so good, though.
Thanks to all of you for bearing with me when I go quiet online. I always see your comments and messages, and even if I can't respond, I feel the love and I'm sending it back.
Pepper & Söl