Photos: Dang Hui Ling and Grand Harvest Media
Video: Vina Chia
Fast-rising starlet Julie Tan took a huge career leap last year when she starred in her maiden overseas film titled Mystery. Having received praises for her performance in the nostalgic and heart-warming local movie That Girl in Pinafore, Julie confidently announced the expansion of her acting career beyond our shores last year through the joint film venture between Singaporean entertainment company Grand Harvest Media and Chinese company Wishart Media.
In the suspense-thriller that revolves around the grim idea of grave robbing, Julie got to work alongside renowned Taiwanese actors like Ady An and Jiro Wang as well as Chinese comedian and crosstalk actor Guo Degang.
At the press conference of the movie last Thursday, the 22-year-old shared that she has learnt a lot during the filming process, despite her small role playing Ady’s manager.
When asked to rate her performance in Mystery, Julie commented humbly that there is still room for improvement. “I think I did not bring out the vibes of a strong career-minded woman very well, but I have tried my best, so I have no regrets,” she shared.
However, the CEO of Grand Harvest Media Eula Lee recognised Julie’s effort at the press conference, revealing that she has specially chosen to support the 22-year-old in her career advancement into China.
Venturing outside her comfort zone
As the film was shot entirely in Beijing, Julie admitted to having initially suffered a culture shock, as the working style of the Chinese crew had a jarring difference with that of Singapore.
Recounting the filming process that had taken place under harsh winter conditions, Julie lamented about being ‘really suay (unlucky)’ as she could not adapt to the local diet and was badly tormented by a runny nose and bad tummy.
Yet, she was glad to have worked with a different crew as she felt that being “too comfortable” and “familiar” with one’s surroundings (such as in MediaCorp) could easily breed complacency within her. She also believes that it is essential for an actor to step out of his or her comfort zone at a suitable time to stimulate better performing skills.
Though eager to venture afar, the 22-year-old is cautious of the vast and complicated Chinese industry and has decided against signing an artiste management contract with any companies there at the moment.
Instead, Julie will be managed by her father, who has a rich experience in business dealings. He is also in-charge of coordinating her activities in China and Julie admitted in an interview that the main reason behind her father’s intervention was because she was turned off by under-the-table practices like giving monetary favours or socialising with businessmen that several management companies have cited as ‘a common practice’ in China.
Julie expressed her relief as she did not have to accede to what she felt was immoral and her father would pick her acting roles to avoid scripts with overly intimate scenes. She also added that she has not had any disagreement with her father’s decisions to date.
On Allen Chen’s return to Taiwan: Distance would not dissolve our friendship
Now that Julie has taken her first step in her acting career outside of Singapore, her rumoured boyfriend Allen Chen would be following her footsteps by challenging himself with several acting opportunities back in his hometown Taiwan.
The Taiwanese model-turned-actor would be ending his two-year stint in the Singapore entertainment industry this April to return to Taiwan for a six-month-long television production.
While the 22-year-old admitted that Allen is one out of her five to six friends whom she feels a deep connection with, when asked if she would miss her ‘good friend’ and make plans to visit him in Taiwan, she replied comically, “Since I would be in China to expand my career, would he look for me there?”
“As we are friends, I don’t see why I cannot bear to part with him. I would definitely give him my blessings and wish that he would have a smooth-sailing career in Taiwan!”
However, Julie added that she may be planning a trip with her friends to visit Allen, claiming that it is only fair for him to play host for the good treatment he has received from his peers while being in Singapore.
Maintaining that distance would not be a barrier in their friendship, Julie added: “Not every separation would last forever. Everyone needs the space to live our own lives and grow. Why should (I) obstruct other people? Separation allows us to mature and when we meet again, we may spark a different kind of chemistry.”
Mystery would be exclusively shown at Filmgarde Bugis+ starting from March 19.
This article is translated by Isadora Ong.