YOLO (you only live once) – this is Julie Tan’s mantra in life and the actress is not afraid of walking the talk, even after picking up a total of three trophies—the Rocket Award, Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste Award and Best Supporting Actress award—at the recent Star Awards ceremony.
She will pack her bags and take off for the Big Apple at the end of June to go on a six-month hiatus to do a four-month acting course with the school of acting at the New York Film Academy.
Many have questioned her decision to go on a break, especially after her triple award haul recently, but the actress tells Toggle she has her mind set on “upgrading” herself.
In fact, this decision was made almost a year ago, revealed Julie, when she applied for permission to go on leave in June last year. “In November , I started my application process and submitted my portfolio. But there was another round of auditions via video and essay submission and I was informed that I was accepted in January this year.”
She further explained her decision and said, “I’ve been well-protected by [Mediacorp] for the past seven years, growing in a comfortable and secure environment… But when we grow too comfortable with the environment, there will be no improvement. Only when we are ‘uncomfortable’, will we keep pushing ourselves to achieve even more.”
The actress, who is turning 24 in September, has no regrets making this decision, neither is she afraid of falling behind her peers too.
“I’m not afraid of people climbing up the ranks, if it happens it’s because of their hard work. My presence – or absence – shouldn’t affect their career growth,” she said.
“Everyone is different and unique in their own way – we can do different roles and we have different styles. I think I need to have confidence in myself to face this matter bravely too. I’m not too worried about [losing out]. I’m sure Julie will be a different person when she’s back.”
That being said, Julie understands that “show business is as realistic as it gets” and, as an actress, one cannot afford to be missing from TV for too long a period because “out of sight, out of mind.”
There’s a chance we might see her back on TV even before the end of her six-month break, but only “if there are any good projects offered during this time” and “only after I complete my four-month workshop.”
Julie shared that her parents, who are equally supportive of her decision to further her studies, will not be travelling to New York to settle her down. Not that mum and dad need to worry about anything since the actress has been living on her own for the past year and has her accommodation plans all settled – she will be taking over a friend’s old place located at the Lower East Side, which is a 20-minute journey via subway from school, said Julie.
Julie Tan as Huang Zihong in Peace & Prosperity
“I do Thai boxing so my mum feels it’s quite safe [for me to be there by myself]. They don’t intend to visit me too,” she chuckled, “But they might do a surprise visit. Who knows? It’s hard to say.”
Julie shared that her boyfriend has been “in the know” all along too as they spoke about it even before getting together. “He was very supportive back then and he is still very supportive of it now. This is a life decision and nothing can change my mind,” she quipped.
“They all know I’m at the stage where I need to focus on my career and they’ve been giving me nothing but support – from my parents to my boyfriend and even my friends. Because of all their support, I am able to go to New York with no reservations.”
So what will happen to her character, Huang Zihong, in long-form Channel 8 drama series Peace & Prosperity when she leaves?
“The producers were all informed about my decision even before filming Peace & Prosperity and I will only be appearing in the first 100 episodes… I’m very thankful to the producers for accommodating my school schedule, everyone said that with Zihong not around, it’s going to be a less rowdy on set. When I read the script for the 100th episode, I felt a tinge of sadness and can’t bear to say goodbye too.”
My First School is now showing every Tuesday, 8pm on Channel 8. Watch past episodes on catch-Up TV.
Peace & Prosperity is showing every weekday night, 7.30pm on Channel 8; watch it now on catch-Up TV or Toggle-It-First.
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