Singaporean celebrities who are based overseas

Locally-born singers and actors who call other countries their homes

Chin Han in 'Ghost in the Shell'
Chin Han in 'Ghost in the Shell'
07 Apr 2017

Chin Han in 'Ghost in the Shell'

Our Little Red Dot has churned out many talented entertainers, but some of them have had to travel to foreign lands - and continue staying there - to unleash their full potential (or in Yvonne Lim’s case, she relocated for love).

Take Chin Han for example. The 47-year-old was a cast member of Channel 5’s Masters of the Sea, Singapore’s first full-length English drama, but it wasn’t until he moved to Los Angeles in 2007 (13 years later) and landed a role in Hollywood blockbuster The Dark Knight that folks both back home and abroad really started to sit up and take notice.

That wasn’t the last of his blockbuster involvements, and he was soon spotted in more international pictures like 2012, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Independence Day: Resurgence and most recently, Ghost in the Shell alongside Scarlett Johansson. To prepare for his role as intelligence agent Togusa, Chin Han went through five months of vigorous training and even grew a mullet to match his manga counterpart’s. Talk about dedication!

We certainly don’t see him slowing down anytime soon: last year, Chin Han joined Creative Arts Agency, which represents a long list of A-listers including George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Johnny Depp. While he’s not the only Lion City kid to make it to Tinseltown, he’s undoubtedly the most successful.

Read on to see which home-grown talents now reside in second homes overseas:

Ghost in the Shell is now playing in cinemas.

Photos: TPG

JJ Lin
JJ Lin
07 Apr 2017

JJ Lin

Based in: Taiwan

One of our island’s biggest musical exports has a teacher from St. Andrews Junior College to thank for helping him to recognise his talents when she advised him to attend Chinese song-writing classes. He then joined a training course under Ocean Butterflies at the age of 17 and released his debut album Music Voyager several years later in 2003.

JJ experienced almost instant success with Music Voyager, which bagged him Best New Artist at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards in 2004 - the first of many more accolades and chart-topping triumphs over the next 12 years (and counting!). Despite being an in-demand artist in the whole of Asia, the 36-year-old is always happy to make trips back to Singapore for professional and personal purposes, proving that he’s still very much our homeboy indeed.

Tanya Chua
Tanya Chua
07 Apr 2017

Tanya Chua

Based in: Taiwan

The CHIJ St Nicholas alumnus managed to break into the Taiwanese market in the late 90s, but it wasn’t until 2006 when she officially became a Taipei resident. Despite hitting a few bumps in the road of her career, things started looking up after the move. In addition to finally holding her first ticketed solo showcase in 2008, the songbird picked up multiple gongs - including Best Mandarin Female Singer - at that year’s Golden Melody Awards.

And the future continues to look bright for the 42-year-old: Tanya released her 10th album Aphasia in November 2015 and held her first Singapore concert in four years last December. She also discovered a delicious new hobby, baking, which makes us wonder if she will ever consider opening her own patisserie right here in Singapore (we’d be one of its first customers for sure). Sadly, things in her personal life have been a little rocky (she is said to have broken up with her French beau), but at least she has great friends to turn to (she recently enjoyed an Italian getaway with Taiwanese pop star Jolin Tsai).

Photos: TPG, Toggle

By2
By2
07 Apr 2017

By2

Based in: Taiwan

Twin sisters Miko and Yumi Bai had an early start in showbiz when they joined a training course under Ocean Butterflies Music at the tender age of 13, after which they inked a 10-year record deal with the label. The duo then did the unthinkable – especially by Singapore standards – when they dropped out of school and moved to Taiwan in 2007, where they released their debut album the following year.

Earlier this year, the 25-year-olds dropped the music video for their new single ‘Peach Cheongsam’. They also returned to their homeland for a fan meeting at the launch of their fashion line’s pop-up store back in January and, judging from their social media posts, they were absolutely thrilled to be back.

Photos: TPG

Yvonne Lim
Yvonne Lim
07 Apr 2017

Yvonne Lim

Based in: Taiwan

After tying the knot with former B.A.D member Alex Tien in September 2014 and giving birth to their first son AJ in December later that year, the 40-year-old actress marked another milestone when she boldly left her life as a top actress behind (at least temporarily) and migrated to her husband’s hometown in May 2015, leaving sad fans – and her distraught "mother" Hong Hui Fang – behind.

Since then, Yvonne has taken a break from TV screens (her last appearance was in 2014's Blessings) to focus on taking care of her baby boy, and it may be a while before her showbiz comeback as she recently gave birth to her second child, daughter Alexa. But don’t worry, the yummy mummy has stated that she plans to visit Singapore again as soon as her little girl is fit for travel.

Photos: Yvonne Lim/Instagram

Anthony Chen
Anthony Chen
07 Apr 2017

Anthony Chen

Based in: England

The 32-year-old filmmaker, who gained worldwide recognition with his award-winning directorial debut Ilo Ilo (remember when it picked up everything from the Camera d’Or at Cannes to Best Film at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards?), moved to the British capital in 2007 to enrol at the National Film and Television School, and has lived there with his wife Rachel ever since.

While he set up a Singapore-based production company Giraffe Pictures, which produced omnibus project Distance starring Chen Bolin and Kirsten Tan’s Sundance award-winning directorial debut Pop Aye, Anthony has stated in interviews that he sees himself "staying in London for a long, long time", saying that the city's inspiring artistic "genius and talent" forces him to grow and keeps him humble.

Well, as long as he keeps flying our red-and-white flag with his outstanding, international works, we say do what’s best for him.

Derrick Hoh
Derrick Hoh
07 Apr 2017

Derrick Hoh

Based in: Taiwan

Although the 31-year-old found fame on Singapore talent show Project SuperStar in 2005, it was in Taiwan where he managed to carve out a successful singing career with the release of his debut album Unclassified three years later, after he completed his national service, followed by Change in 2010.

In December 2015, Derrick made his return to the music scene with his third studio album Lemon Tree, and the title track achieved the impressive feat of topping the iTunes' singles chart just five hours after its launch. He also held his first solo concert here at the Esplanade in June last year, after having his first ticketed showcase in Taiwan not long before he dropped Lemon Tree, proving that he is slowly but surely making his way up the industry food chain.

Photos: TPG

Daphne Khoo
Daphne Khoo
07 Apr 2017

Daphne Khoo

Based in: USA

The former Singapore Idol contender and tough-as-nails ovarian cancer survivor relocated to Los Angeles in November last year to advance her music career. When we last caught up with the 29-year-old, she shared plans to release an acoustic EP of songs she has performed live but never recorded in a studio.

Daphne is no stranger to living in the States (she studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston), or to emigrating from country to country for that matter, as she was born in Australia and moved to Singapore when she was 8.

Photos: Daphne Khoo/Instagram, Toggle

Special mention: Leon Jay Williams
Special mention: Leon Jay Williams
07 Apr 2017

Special mention: Leon Jay Williams

Was based in: China, Taiwan

Despite being relatively unknown here (although that might have changed following the release of Lulu the Movie, in which he played Michelle Chong’s love interest), the 40-year-old Eurasian Singaporean is a bona fide superstar in China, complete with fan-mobs on the street and five- to six-figure pay cheques for projects or appearances.

After living and working overseas for many years, Leon moved back to his hometown in December 2015 with his wife Joyce and daughter Harper, who was born in Taiwan but holds dual citizenship in both nations. The actor explained that he wanted to spend more time with his two-year-old and wants her to be educated here. But don’t have high hopes about spotting him in any local productions: he has emphasised that his main market is China, and he doesn’t want to do anything that would affect his time there.

Special mention: Hugo Ng
Special mention: Hugo Ng
07 Apr 2017

Special mention: Hugo Ng

Was based in: Hong Kong

The veteran actor, who made a name for himself as one of TVB’s leading men in the 80s, recently made his local drama comeback in Channel 8 blockbuster The Dream Job. The 57-year-old was born in Singapore but moved to Hong Kong after filming his last series here, 1986’s Men of Valour.

Last year, Hugo relocated back to our sunny shores with his family, as his 19-year-old Justin was slated to serve his national service here. While his son and wife, former actress Lily Chung, will be based here, he will still travel wherever he is needed for work (because clearly, there is no fixed retirement age for established thespians).

Photos: Channel 8, Toggle

Related:
Singapore and Malaysia talents who have done us proud overseas
Local singers who did us proud in overseas talent shows

Report a problem