Nat Ho, Oon Shu An accept pay cut for drama pilot roles

The local actors star in two of six original screenplays that are vying for the chance to be made into a full-length series

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The first thing we did after greeting Nat Ho at The Projector, a charming, hipster-esque cinema tucked away on the fifth floor of Golden Mile Tower, was to gush about how the Toggle team is crazy about his bubble tea stall Bobbii Frutti (we swear we weren’t just buttering him up - we legitimately rejoice every time someone volunteers to dabao those delicious, colourful drinks back to the office).

“Oh, really?” was the 33-year-old’s calm response, but the grin on his face was unmistakable. That said, while his beverage business is undoubtedly popular (heads up: he’s already looking to open a second stall in the city), he reported that it’s actually his cheese toast store Say Chiizu that is the most successful out of his three F&B babies (he also owns the #eatclean-friendly Love Bento), simply because it has the most outlets - six, to be exact.

That is a LOT to juggle, even for someone without filming and recording commitments like the ambitious artiste. But that hasn’t stopped the multi-talented towkay from taking on more showbiz projects, the latest of which is the lead role in supernatural drama Haunt Me, one of six pilots from across the region competing to be made into a full series on video-on-demand service HOOQ. The other Singaporean representative is How To Be A Good Girl, starring Oon Shu An.

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Both actors shared in our interviews that they were willing to accept a pay cut for their work, but refrained - understandably so - from revealing exactly how much less they were compensated. The creators of the six screenplays, which were shortlisted from over 500 submissions, were each given US$30,000 (about S$39,340) to bring their visions to life.

“When they approached me with their budget I was like, ‘You know this is not my rate, right?’ (Laughs)” said Nat, who still agreed to be on board because he wanted to support his friend (he’s worked with the writer since Channel 5’s Polo Boys, which - prepare to feel old - turns 10 next year) and because it was “one of the most interesting scripts” he’d ever read (it certainly isn’t every day you get to play someone destined to guide lost souls to “the other side”).

While Shu An had no qualms about being paid a reduced fee for her part in How To Be A Good Girl, in which she plays a former socialite trying to get her life and reputation back on track after doing time in prison, she stressed that she only agreed to do so because she trusts the director, whom she’s collaborated with many times ages ago.

“I know he’s not going to give me some nonsense reason [for paying me less],” the 31-year-old explained, adding on a side note that she believes “all freelancers need better protection in terms of their rates”.

Well said, and don’t worry - both Shu An and Nat will be given the paycheques they deserve if their pilot goes on to become a full series.

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Read on for more from our interviews with Nat and Shu An!

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