Sofia Dendroff’s “weird” first onscreen kiss with Joel Choo

The actress reveals what it was like playing a sugar baby and working with – and snogging – Zhu Hou Ren’s son in Channel 5’s ‘Faculty’

Sofia Dendroff’s “weird” first onscreen kiss with Joel Choo

Photos: Channel 5

Like her co-stars Michelle Wong and Keagan Kang, up-and-coming actress Sofia Dendroff did not know much about her role as freshman Desiree in Channel 5’s new drama Faculty, as the script was being written as filming went along.

So imagine her surprise when she discovered that her character, in addition to being a pretty and popular social media star, leads a lucrative life as a sugar baby (a young woman who romances rich men in return for money and other luxuries). “I only found out during our script-reading session and I was like ‘What!? Seriously!?’” she recalled in a phone interview with Toggle.

The 25-year-old former DJ even had to look the part in sexy, mature outfits while entertaining her onscreen sugar daddies, some of whom she claimed were old enough to be her father. Thankfully, her co-actors’ respectful behaviours eased her nerves on set. “It was a bit strange at first but they were all very professional,” she reported, adding that it ended up being “a pretty interesting” experience.

Sofia Dendroff’s “weird” first onscreen kiss with Joel Choo

Wealthy older men won’t be the only ones getting cosy with Sofia’s character – sparks fly between Desiree and hunky swimming champ CK (played by veteran actor Zhu Hou Ren’s 22-year-old son Joel Choo in his TV debut), and the two eventually share not just their first kiss on the show, but also their first kisses on screen.

The experience was not as romantic as you’d think. “It was so weird!” Sofia exclaimed. “It’s quite funny because right before the scene, we were high-fiving each other and saying ‘We got this! We’re going to do this!’ but when it came time to actually film, we were both so nervous we were trying to calm each other down. Although we were shooting in an air-conditioned room, I was perspiring! (laughs)”

That wasn’t the last of their smooching scenes. A little later on, the two engage in a steamier make-out session, which Sofia said was – surprisingly – much easier to shoot.

“Strangely, filming the tamer kiss was harder because it was meant to be a lot more than just a kiss, with Desiree and CK realising that they like each other,” she explained, adding that the director was particularly critical as he wanted them to look as though they were “kissing from the heart”. “Anyone can kiss, but to kiss with meaning is difficult.”

Sofia Dendroff’s “weird” first onscreen kiss with Joel Choo

To prepare for the big moment, Sofia and Joel had a discussion about their boundaries, as Sofia was in a relationship at that time (thankfully, her then-boyfriend was very understanding). They also agreed that they “shouldn’t think so much about it”, as their lack of confidence would show on camera.

When asked if things became awkward between them after getting so intimate, Sofia assured us that their friendship was not affected at all. In fact, they became even more comfortable with each other on set.

“Out of all the cast members, Joel is definitely one of my closest friends,” she said. “It’s very easy to talk to him because he’s a really humble and down-to-earth guy who is eager to learn; I like these kinds of people.”

Also in the pipeline is a “bedroom scene”, but Sofia reiterates that it’s “not what you think it’s going to be”. “It’s going to be a little bit shocking, that’s all I’m going to say,” she cryptically divulged, adding that viewers will have to tune in to episode 17 of Faculty to find out exactly what goes down.

Sofia Dendroff’s “weird” first onscreen kiss with Joel Choo

Faculty airs Mondays to Thursday at 10pm on Channel 5. Watch past episodes on Toggle.

Michelle Wong gets rash from Keagan Kang during bedroom scene
Zhu Hou Ren’s son Joel Choo strips down for TV debut

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