Photos: Tammi Tan, Toggle
Ase Wang was composed, confident and chatty all throughout our 20-minute chat…until we got her to tell us more about her new boyfriend.
“You’re making me nervous – my palms are sweating!” cried the Chinese-Swedish actress, her feelings apparent in her bashful giggle and shifty body language (awww, freshly blossomed love is always adorably awkward like that).
She was, however, not as forthcoming with actual details regarding her new beau, save for the fact that he is mixed-race, non-Singaporean, not in showbiz, and that they got together last year after being introduced by mutual friends.
And her future wedding – if she were to have it her way – will be just as private as her relationship. “I love going to weddings; I just don’t want to go to my own wedding with a dress and cake and people, it’s just not me,” said the 36-year-old. “I would probably get married on the low and be like, ‘Guess what, guys? I got married.’”
While Ase (pronounced “Aw-suh”, by the way) hopes that she and her beau can put a ring on it “soon”, she is against the idea of putting a deadline on when they should do so. Instead, her target dates are saved for events like the online launch of her swimsuit line Seven Night Stand.
Yes, the ardent entrepreneur is adding yet another venture to her already-lengthy list of businesses, which includes a barbershop chain, two boxing gyms and a cycling studio, all of which are based in Bangkok, her second home aside from Singapore.
Whew! We get tired just imagining how the #girlboss juggles all that along with her acting gigs (she can now be seen on Toggle Originals series Intercept). Then again, we suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the empire-building spirit runs deep in the blood of someone from the family that owns baking supplies giant Phoon Huat.
Read on for our full interview with Ase, who tells us about her “selfish” plans for 2018, that time she literally broke down on the set of Intercept, and more:
Toggle: Did you do any special preparation for your role as a doctor in Intercept?
Ase: One of my business partners is a surgeon, so I asked him quite a lot of questions. It’s always the minor things you have to pay attention to, for example, I always get my nails done, but as a doctor you wouldn’t have long nails or wear nail polish. I also learned about how they put their pen [in their pocket], how they hang their stethoscope, and how they pronounce certain things.
What was the hardest thing to get right as a doctor?
I think just the way of talking like a doctor, because I have quite a potty mouth. (laughs) And I like to make jokes, but as a doctor you have to be very stern with how things are done, so it was quite a big change for me.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while filming Intercept?
I had a scene where I was being interrogated and I literally had to have a complete meltdown. I was very worried about not being able to cry – there’s one thing I will not do on set, which is to use eye drops or fake tears for a crying scene – so I decided to use those nerves for my character, but I got so nervous that I had a real meltdown and started crying! For real! I think that was the hardest thing I did for this show.
What made you decide to accept the role?
I’ve never played a doctor. The last show I did here in Singapore was 2004’s Spin, where I played this teenage drama queen. It was just doing something different. Anything that I haven’t done before I’m willing to try.
You run so many businesses! How on earth do you find the time to juggle all of them?
(Pretends to cry) I don’t! I would love to take all the credit and say I built everything on my own, but I didn’t. I have wonderful business partners and a great team, and they all help to take off a lot of the pressure. I think the hard part is not the building, but the maintaining. Like for my swimwear line, I’m like, “I hope people buy my swimwear!” I have anxiety about it!
So are you a good boss?
I wouldn’t say that. (laughs) I think my staff all think I’m crazy because I’ll text them at 2am and be like, “I have this perfect idea!” and they won’t answer me until the morning. (laughs) But yeah, I wouldn’t say I’m a great boss but I would say that I learn from my staff. When I make a mistake, they’ll tell me, which is great because that way I’ll know how to do things.
Ase breaks down (for real) in her interrogation scene in 'Intercept'
What else have you been up to lately?
I’ve been completely obsessed with my swimwear business just to make sure it gets out right. I’ve been working on that for a year, even while filming Intercept, and I’m hoping to launch it in April. It could have come out a lot earlier but I’m a perfectionist, which is both good and bad.
Besides that, what are some of your goals this year?
Personally, I am going to try to be a little bit more “selfish”. I’ve always wanted to make sure that people feel good, which is great, but you tend to forget about your own needs. And so I want to dedicate 2018 to myself and how I feel about things, because in 2017, I spent a lot of time catering to others’ needs, and that didn’t exactly make me sleep at night. (laughs)
What do your parents think of all your achievements?
I was just teasing my dad about that yesterday. I asked him, “Are you proud of me?” and he was like “(Reluctantly) Yeah, yeah, yeah”. (laughs) I know they’re secretly proud of me.
Has anybody’s perception of you (because of your family background) ever affected you in any way?
I don’t think so, because I never mentioned my family business, but if people want to say things, you can’t stop them from talking. I will own up to coming from a very privileged life and I accept it, but if I came from that stereotypical background, I’m sure I would have finished school [Ed’s note: She dropped out of school at 16]. And besides, that blessed background didn’t put money in my bank account when I moved to Hong Kong when I was 18.
Is there any pressure to take over the family business one day?
No. I’ve always been that odd one out that didn’t go down the family route, and I think they’d much rather have it that way. I don’t think they’d want me in the office. (laughs)