Joi Chua scares public in the guise of a summon aunty

Singer makes acting debut in Royston Tan’s latest movie, 3688, as a parking warden with big dreams


Photos: Teo Sijia, Golden Village
Video: Tan Shiqi, Vina Chia

While participating in her maiden movie, songstress and certified optometrist Joi Chua got to experience an entirely different profession: the legendary summon aunty.

The first-time actress shared that while in costume filming for Royston Tan’s new film, 3688, “People didn’t recognise me and thought I was a real summon aunty, so they ran away from me, and some hurried back to drive their cars away or to add more parking coupons.”

“(Parking wardens) are shunned by everyone, it’s so sad!”

At the press event for 3688 held on Tuesday at the National Museum, Joi was joined by her co-stars Brandon Wong, Liu Lingling, Rahima Rahim and rapper Shigga Shay, as well as director Royston Tan.

In his tradition of numerically titled movies — after his feature films 15, 4:30, 881 and 12 Lotus — Royston’s new offering contains a near-pun of the Chinese phrase ‘Xiang Ru Fei Fei’ (it means to have one’s imagination run wild) in its name, and also alludes to the late Taiwanese singer Feng Fei-Fei, who is known for her fondness of unique hats. (Coincidentally, local parking wardens, who are largely female, are nicknamed Feng Fei-Fei for the trademark white canvas hats they wear at work, and Joi’s character in the movie is called Fei-Fei and sings Feng Fei-Fei songs.)

Joi Chua

Big dreams
In 3688 Joi plays a parking warden who aspires to be a singer, and despite the harsh realities of life she signs up for a singing competition, only to find out on the day of the grand finals that her father, who suffers from dementia, has gone missing.

Despite 15 years in the local entertainment industry, Joi has never taken up an acting role until now. The collaboration with Royston was born of an old promise between them. “When I first met Joi four or five years ago, I admired her (calm and earnest) temperament,” he said. “So I told her we will definitely get to work together someday.”

Joi added, “When he said that I thought he was just being polite, and I didn’t take his words seriously. But eventually he did look me up, and said he thought I had sensibility so I would have no problem crying on cue.”

“I was surprised. No one had said that about me before — I had always been called rational and objective.”

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