Things I wish I told myself when I was 16

fari-89

Two weeks ago, the results of the Cambridge GCE O level Examinations came out. They’re the final exams all Secondary School students take at the age of 16.

I’m pretty sure it must have been a mad rush for students and their parents to try and secure a place in the next institution that they want to study. At least, that was what I experienced 10 years ago (I can’t quite believe it’s been 10 years already, it feels like a lifetime ago!).

Within the next couple of days, the results of which schools the students are going to will be posted. Whether they’re going to Junior College, Millennial Institute, Polytechnic or ITE, their whole life will hinge on these results.

No actually, that’s a lie.

But that’s what I assumed when I was 16, waiting eagerly for my results of where I was going to go.

#99425

What happens after you put in all the hard work?

I still remember what it was like when I was 16, waiting to receive my results. The school would sit us down, make sure we’re wearing our school uniforms again and check our hair (those who dyed their hair actually had to go home and put black dye because it’s against school regulations to have coloured hair).

And then they’d tell us all about how our lives aren’t over if we got a bad grade, how we have to work harder from now on, how our lives are about to begin.

And 30 minutes later, I’d see people crying everywhere.

Yes, they can tell us however much they want that our lives aren’t over if we got a bad grade. But the truth is we’d been preparing for this day for 4 years, ever since we were nervous Secondary 1 kids with no friends to confident Secondary 4 kids hiding our mobile phones from our teachers and trying to wear our home clothes to school every chance we get.

DSCN0705

Noooo… back when I was tiny and awkward. Then again I’m still tiny.

That one single day proved to us (and our parents mostly) how much effort we’ve put into our studies, how much we’ve done with our lives so far and how badly we want to get into a good school (if we didn’t get into a prestigious Junior College, we’re probably automatically stupid and lazy).

Now whenever I think back to that day, I think of how silly we all were. Those who were crying 10 years ago are now smiling with great lives and great boyfriends and great careers. I check out Facebook and see their graduation pictures and their office parties and travel pictures and I feel happy for them. Life has indeed begun.

fari-58

There was a point my 16 year old life when I believed I wouldn’t be able to even graduate from O levels, and yet here I am with a Masters degree. Life has begun for me too.

But the thing is, fast forward to 2015 and there is still the same stigma for those who have gotten their O level results right now. Those 16 year old students this year still think I did badly for English / Maths / Geography. My life is over.

And this is because Singapore society still places such a big stress on getting good grades. If we didn’t get good marks, then we won’t be able to get a good job. We’re probably not smart enough. Our aunties and neighbours will gleefully compare each other’s children’s results as though they’re trophies, each one trying to outdo each other.

I’m not trying to criticize the Singapore society or education system. I think there are benefits to it, like how it pushes us to go further than we thought we could ever go, and it makes us more accomplished beings in the long run.

But I’m here to say that life isn’t over when that result slip comes out.

It’s been almost 10 years since I got my O level results. I admit, I was a bit disappointed when I first got them because I expected an A2 in English but got a B3, but I had a very hard time in Secondary School so holding my results were more of a relief than anything else.

TP

And I ended up going to the course that was my first choice in Temasek Polytechnic, even though I didn’t get an A in English. My life wasn’t “over” just because I got one not-good-enough grade.

But 10 years ago, I was still a kid who didn’t know where to go. And here’s the things I wish I could have told that just-finished-O-levels me, here’s the things I wish someone told me when I was 16:

1) Don’t be afraid to go after what you want.

16 year old me was a pushover. No, really.

I didn’t know how to say no. And I was always a follower rather than a leader, even though a lot of the times I was in the company of people younger than me who could probably look to me for direction. Most of all, I didn’t know how to ask for what I want.

I’d have to rehearse a thousand times in my head before I can ask someone for something, and sometimes I’d just leave clues around hoping someone will get the gist of what I want.

But people are not mind-readers. And the amazing thing is, if I ask, people will likely say yes anyway. Can I have some time with you to do an interview? Can I borrow 20 minutes of your time to ask an important question? Do you mind helping me out with this? The answer is usually yes.

St Ali SouthAnd most people are really nice, like head chef Andy from St Ali South cafe in South Melbourne!

2) Don’t think, just do.

Ah oh my god, I still struggle with this till now. Maybe it’s because human beings have this resistance to doing things, they have inertia all the time and just want to stay in their own comfort zone.

There are so many times when I think about doing something, but the timing’s not right, or I haven’t thought this through or it isn’t perfect right now and then it snowballs into many months or a year and I haven’t done anything about it.

But the funny thing is how amazing I feel after I accomplish something, and how I can’t wait to feel it again. When I was 17, I pushed myself to get an internship at CLEO, and it felt amazing to accomplished that (not to mention the bragging rights).

But instead, I didn’t use that as a springboard. I still continued to stop myself and drag my feet instead. 16 year old me, don’t think, just do.

Will 4

If you want to be an angel, go be an angel. I mean, unless you can be a unicorn, then maybe you should go be a unicorn instead. 

3) Give yourself space to experiment.

I was lucky. My love of writing grew from a very young age, when my love for reading began. And my love for acting was found when I was 13 and in Secondary 1. I didn’t appreciate or hone both skills till I was much older though.

That’s because my heart kept searching. I kept looking and I kept wondering whether there was something else out there that I was good at. I wanted to draw but I’m pretty bad at drawing.

So I kept trying out different things in the years after I was 16, although other people kept telling me what I was good at was writing. I just wanted to try something else out.

And I’m glad I did. When I first finally got back into writing, I thought, what a waste of all these years. When I finally got back into acting, I thought, I should have done this again earlier.

But now I’m happy I took the time to try other things out. It gave me a chance to try sub-editing, and photography, and animations, and filming documentaries, and it gave me the realization that I am pretty good at studio directing actually (even though it’s super stressful at the same time).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HELLO! Welcome to my studio!

And most importantly, it gave me the understanding of how much I appreciate writing and acting when I finally came back to it.

4) Don’t worry about what other people think of you.

Another thing that I still struggle with on a much smaller scale now. But when I was 16 I had a debilitating fear of what people thought of me, and I suffered from anxiety issues. What I found hardest to deal with was the fear of what other people thought of me.

Which is silly because in the end this is my life, and no one else’s.

I mean, if I wanted to like rap songs and the colour pink at the same time, I should be able to, right?

But I was always embarrassed because I didn’t know what people would think of me, or how people would judge me. Which was why when I started modeling and acting, I rarely showed people any of my work.

IMG_0209

When my bus ad came out, I waited for people to tell me they saw it than to tell people that I’M ACTUALLY ON A BUS, GO FIND ME. The ad might actually still be around in Singapore, I have no idea. But anyway, I was so self-conscious that I didn’t dare tell people. And I thought if I ever talked about it, I will probably seem really narcissistic.

I wish I could tell 16 year old me not to be so shy or self-conscious because I probably would not have been so afraid to do a lot more back then.

5) Embrace change.

Change sucks. I admit that myself.

But then again change can be for the better. And so much of the time, the changes in my life has made my life better, or at least it has taught me how to live my life better.

Change has given me the chance to grow, whether physically or mentally or emotionally or in other areas in my life. Change has forced me to confront things I didn’t want to deal with, change has turned me into a better and smarter person (but also more cynical, I admit that)

I was always afraid of change because I’d rather be somewhere comfortable. I hated changing classes, I hated switching from class to a workplace, I hated graduating.

But change is inevitable, and now I can look back and laugh. Because I know that my life has only changed for the better.

cropped-fari-004.jpg

I think I look better now too. That’s one change I’m happier with!

6) It’s okay if you still don’t know what you want.

The one big problem with choosing which institution to study next is What if I don’t know what I want to study next? I’ve seen this dilemma happen time and time again, whether for JC students, or Poly students, or ITE students. Some of them don’t know what they like, so their parents choose for them. And then later they feel like they made a mistake going into this particular course.

Others, sadly, know what they want but their parents want something else for them and push them into doing that something else. And they again feel that their next 2 – 3 years will be a mistake.

That’s okay. Because no matter what, there’s always something else you can take out of the course, even if you didn’t like it. It could be leadership skills or teamwork skills or learning a new software. And these skills will soon come in handy anyway.

Whenever I go into a job and suddenly think it’s a mistake, I’ve learnt years later that there’s a skill I’ve learnt that will come in handy after all. Doing an events job means that I have the knowledge to train other people, doing customer service has taught me how to deal with people and how to do public speaking. There’s always something to learn somewhere.

And if you haven’t figured out what you want to do as a career, there’s time. It’s cliche, but it’s true. And many people have successfully jumped ship to other careers with the realization that their accounting / finance / information management skills have indeed helped them in one way or another.

5

7) School isn’t everything.

And finally, the one thing that 16 year old me really should have known all along: school isn’t everything. Yes, it was a huge part of my world when I was that age, because that’s what I mainly had to do at that time: go to school.

But there were so many other things in life that are pretty big and I didn’t quite grasp, like spending more time with my extended families, and trying to get to know my friends and schoolmates better. I wish I wasn’t so afraid to talk to my teachers and to people who were older than me.

I wish I understood that success in the classroom didn’t automatically equate to success in the real world. I was constantly so hung up on my grades because I believed that determined everything that I was.

I got depressed when my graphic design/brochure/poster projects all came back with below average grades. I got pissed off when I was rejected for a subject and took it out on my hands and the walls of the toilet. I was a young child, I was an angry child, and I believed that school was the only most thing important world.

I wished I spent more time on other things like health. I wish I relaxed a bit, and I wish I would stop constantly comparing passion with talent.

I wrote this to myself on 14 September 2006 (I was 17):

“We got back our exam results.

B for Marketing, B for Journalism 1, C for Media and Society, C for Essential Graphics and C for Graphic Design Fundamentals.

The ironic part of yesterday was that I was so happy initially. That I didn’t have to take any supplementary papers, and that my marks were okay.

It was only later at night when I realised the full extent of everything. That it’s true. It doesnt matter how much hard work I put in, or if I’m dedicated to the task at hand, or how much passion I’ll have for CMM, or even how much research I put in, if I lack the necessary skills, I’ll just… never be good enough.

It was only later at night that I really realised the full extent of everything, and cried in my bed.

I didn’t sleep until morning.

I feel like Joakim Gomez.”

I can look back at it now and laugh. Because that was my first year when I was 17, and I had barely begun to understand what I needed to do. But I would continue to struggle with school for the next few years.

That struggle has finally led to contentment now. I’m happy with myself, and I’m happy with my grades now. And most of all, I’m happy with the realization that my past grades don’t make me.

To that 16 year old me, just spend more time finding yourself and finding your voice.

2

 

How to make a story go viral

On 15 January 2014, I decided to start writing a story about my life so far in Melbourne. I wanted to write about that in-between moment of just arriving to a new and unfamiliar country and the point of graduating, because somehow, time flew by so fast that within the year, I would be at the point of my graduation.

I pitched it. And when the rejection letters started streaming in, I went back to editing mode. I cut out paragraphs, wrote more, and pitched again.

Eventually the story changed tack, and was published in the Discussion section of Meld Magazine.

melbourne end

I didn’t tell anyone about it first, I just kept quiet and watched the numbers.

Within the first hour of publication, the story received 1000 views and 60 Facebook likes. Pretty good. I was pleased. I started sharing it with my friends, especially those who played a huge part in my journey in Melbourne.

And then it blew up the Facebook sphere.

People were sharing it left, right and centre, both friends and strangers. Friends would come up to me in person and tell me they read it and liked it.

Different people would quote different parts, saying how much they loved the piece because it expressed exactly how they felt. Some understood the family aspect. Some talked about the loneliness. But everyone, in some way or other, identified with it.

viral reactions

What was even more heartwarming were the reactions, some from friends and some from complete strangers. This collage of reactions was from Facebook alone.

Meld Magazine saw the story receive over 40 shares. And the article itself had over 900 likes. I didn’t think it could get any better than this.

And then ABC came in.

Not only did they want to republish my article, but they wanted to translate it into Bahasa Indonesia and Mandarin (still in the works).

4000 likes on the Australia Plus channel! I would never have imagined it. Still can’t believe it actually. Incredible.

Translating a piece doesn’t just mean them copying the text into Google Translate and letting a machine do the work for them. It means getting an interpreter who is able to interpret the text and the hidden meanings behind each word and translating it in a way that a person from a different culture is able to understand.

For example, in the original article, the word I used is “ghost”. In the translated text, the word they used is “bayang” which means shadow.

Why shadow and not ghost? Because in the Indonesian culture, the shadow has an underlying meaning of “spirit”. And in the context of my article, that’s exactly what it means. My spirit wanders the corridors, the shadow of who I am.

will 5

It would be wrong for them to use the literal translation of ghost, because in Indonesian it would mean an entirely different thing to them, and ABC knew it.

Can you imagine now how much effort it must take now to translate one single article into an entirely different language? They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think it was worth it.

It’s obviously a validation when a large company like ABC decides that your article is worth their time and effort. But most of all, it was an amazing feeling knowing full well that the story began so simply, as an idea to chronicle my journey abroad.

I often look back at the beginnings of my story, surprised at how it’s evolved, remembering how hard it was in the beginning to even get it off the ground.

Will 3

Obviously I never started out believing the story could go viral. And there isn’t exactly a science to it. It’s not like if you do X, then Y, then Z, then your story will go viral.

But there are factors to look at and think about, whether you’re planning on writing the next viral story or just a great piece.

Does your story have a universal issue?

w

Universities in Sydney and Queensland, and offices in Indonesia and Turkey were sharing my article on their social media. Not because they had some affinity with Melbourne, but because they understood this story to be more than just one student living in Melbourne.

It was a story of a girl who crossed countries and overcame the fear of loneliness and the difficulty of adjusting to a new life to become a functioning member of society.

While my article leaned towards Melbourne and everything it offered me, there is an overarching topic here, and that is of moving. Specifically, the fear of moving. And this issue is universal.

The fear of moving, the inertia you experience. The lookback and the reminiscing of something comfortable while you look ahead to an uncertain future. It doesn’t have to be “What happens when you leave Melbourne” or even “What happens when you leave Australia”.

As human beings living in this current world, we move around the world a lot, whether for education opportunities, or job opportunities.

We understand the feeling of being uprooted to go somewhere else when we’ve become so comfortable with where we are. The feelings of anxiety and nostalgia mixed together provide an alluring combo, one that many will have felt before, even if it’s as simple as leaving school or moving house.

And it is this alluring combo that resonated differently with different people. People from Israel or China who moved to another country when they were a child have come up to me and told me that they felt exactly the same way when they read my piece.

They understood the terror or leaving a place they called home, they understood what it’s like to find their footing in a new country and learn to adapt to foreign practices. It’s easy for someone to understand such feelings, because even though they may feel unique to me, they’re something that everyone can understand because in some way or another, they’ve been through it themselves.

There are certain issues that are very universal, like love or family. These will resonate with everyone because everyone understands the concept of love, and everyone understands the concept of family. Writing about that gives you an advantage because everyone will be able to relate to it one way or another.

Who is your target audience?

IMG_8539

Writing for your target audience seems like an easy thing to do, but so many of us tend to forget about them once we start writing.

I hadn’t really had a specific target audience in mind, but thanks to editing, that audience slowly emerged. People who were in the same boat, or who will be soon enough will empathize with what I had going on.

Once I had a target audience, it was easier to cater to them, to put myself in their shoes because hey, I am in their shoes. I think that’s what was easy for this particular piece because I was part of the intended target audience. Sometimes you need to dig a lot deeper to bring through the heart of the message to your audience.

And even after that, trying to find a publication that suited the story is another issue. Not all publications will accept just about anything, but the ones that are more specific would be willing to look closer at your story.

It happened to me with another profile story I’m still trying to pitch. It’s a profile about a Filipino embalmer working in Singapore. The Monthly specifically told me that it has no Australian connection, and that’s partly why they’ve decided to say no to me. And this wasn’t really something I thought of too closely, until I read their reply.

Every story needs editing. 

IMG_8438

This is the downfall of many self-published blogs or books. Writers who don’t use the help of an editor or even more than one editor before publishing their work don’t just fall into the trap of spelling and grammar mistakes, their work might not flow as well as it should.

The role of a publishing house is often to cut down the work of a writer, to make their story concise.

While the Internet is now a place for anyone to immediately publish their thoughts, and people are praising it for allowing raw unfiltered unedited thoughts to be read, this also means a drop in quality of work produced.

Previous models of print newspapers and magazines worked because they go through rigorous editing and many eyeballs to catch any spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and factual inaccuracies.

My first draft looked nothing like the finished piece. The draft I finished on the night of 15 January looked nothing like the final piece you’d read on the website. I spent months tweaking bits here and there, and even a few days before the story was published, I sat up till 5am doing tiny edits here and there.

Even when I submitted the final draft ready for publication, my editor had to comb through and change the headline and excerpt so that the article had a much stronger direction and more impact. And I’m fairly sure that that contributed greatly to the ‘viralness’ of the article. We are attracted by headlines, even before we decide to read a story.

Be prepared for rejection. Lots of it.

IMG_8439

I pitched this story to many publications, from literary journals to newspaper forums to website sections. Most of them, I never heard from again.

Some, like The Toast, gave polite generic responses saying “thanks for pitching but we’d prefer to pass on this story”.

I was dejected. Half the time I went back to tweak the story a little bit, like move paragraphs or rewrite sentences, hoping that next time would be the right time.

But the other half of the time I thought about ditching the story. I thought that maybe I should stop pitching. Maybe I should just give up on this and leave it as a Word document in my computer. I should just start on a new story and forget about this.

But I’m glad I continued, because obviously it would never have gotten the eyeballs it did if it just sat languishing in my computer.

The day I published it was in November. I started writing it in January. 11 months of rewrites, tweaking and polishing until somehow, just somehow, it finally got published and took flight.

And then it went viral.

Will 2

Photography by Will Chao.

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

IMG_8300

At the end of every year, it’s a tradition to look back and take stock of what has happened in the last 365 days.

We talk about how quickly the days have flown by, we discuss how we haven’t touched our New Year Resolutions, we joke about how the 1 January will be filled with people trying to fulfill their next year resolutions only to let them fall by the wayside by 2 January.

Well 2014 has definitely been a very eventful year.

In the world issues, it hasn’t exactly been the best year. Amidst crises such as airplane disasters, political upheavals and an Ebola outbreak, we’ve had to battle disasters that threaten the world on a global scale.

airplane

With 3 big airplane-related disasters that dominated the news this year, it may have left some of us feeling very fearful about our safety. Malaysia Airways MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 whilst on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and still hasn’t been found.

Malaysia Airways MH17 on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in Ukraine on 17 July 2014, killing all the passengers and crew onboard.

And most recently, Airasia flight QZ8501 disappeared off the radar due to severe weather. The wreckage was found in the Java Sea and is slowly being recovered.

Out of the 162 passengers on board the flight, the one that hit closest to home was Monash University student Kevin Alexander Soetjipto from Indonesia. We lost a member of the international student community in Melbourne, amongst others this year.

kevin

With these disasters still fresh in our minds, we might be feeling wary about taking planes. It’s scary to think that those people on the planes might just be us. But the truth is, 2014 has been the safest year in terms of fatal aviation accidents. There were 8 reported in 2014, the number was 11 in 2012.

But at the same time, these disasters have made the world look at aviation safety, of whether there might be too many planes circling the air, of whether we need to upgrade the current technologies and systems that our planes boast.

ebola fear

Ebola.

Yes, we talk about Ebola, especially when we’re heckling our ministers about why they aren’t taking a more serious approach in tackling the ebola outbreak.

But do we really know what Ebola is about? What’s the symptoms? How is it passed from one person to another? What happens after that?

We only know it by name and how fatal it is, but the truth is, so many of us don’t actually know anything about Ebola. We treat it as this otherworldly issue that’s happening in a continent so far away that we can ignore it, at least for the time being.

There have been other landmarks last year, specifically the 25th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that separated East and West Germany was destroyed 25 years ago.

Over 200 people died trying to get from East Germany to West Germany, and many more who were caught were sent to prison. On 9 November 1989, they finally opened the wall, reuniting Germany once again.

berlin wall

On a personal level, 2014 has seen improvements in leaps and bounds. In several areas of my life, I got to hone some skills and learn new ones.

Writing.

My resolution was to write more. Because this isn’t something you can quantify, I assume my resolution every year is always going to be “write more”.

But write more I did. And a lot of it took time and effort spent in doing research and constant editing.

One, I took almost an entire year to write, and later to find a home for. I’m glad that it went above and beyond anything I could have expected, when it went viral and eventually got picked up by ABC International on their Australia Plus platform.

australiaplus melbourne end

An incredible surreal feeling the day I got the phone call. I’ll be writing something about this experience soon.

2014 also made me go out of my comfort zone to report on topics I wasn’t very familiar with, like sports.

IMG_3616-19

As the ASEAN Games Australia 2014 hit Melbourne, I was in dismay at first, having never reported on Sports before. But it was good training as I broke new ground, made new friends, and took selfies on the way (of course).

I’m proud of what I wrote, although I constantly look back and think that I could have done better. But I think this is normal for everyone in the creative industry. What’s most important is actually getting it done instead of imagining it in your head.

Acting.

On the acting front, I haven’t had much chance in Australia, but the opportunities in Singapore have grown further than I thought was possible. The TV show Exposed was one way I got to work with more people in the industry, and there are more projects that haven’t been released yet but they were great ways for me to hone my skills and bury myself further in the industry.

eSynchrony 7

Rejection is still something I had to face and I suppose I will always face it, but meeting some casting directors who helped me to put things in perspective certainly helped a lot this year.

Modeling.

Fari 007

Modeling was always something I put on the backburner, and only took out once in a while. I enjoyed it, but it was never something I did often.

FRI_2401 copy

This year though, I got to know more photographers and it just led to more opportunities. Sometimes you get them, and sometimes you have to make them yourself.

IMG_8403

It’s been a lot of fun though, and I hope it’s something I get to do more of in the coming years.

RMIT 5

2014 was also the first chance I had to walk in a fashion runway. I used to walk in hair shows, but this was different. A good different. Runway tends to be more difficult because designers have a certain size and mold of women that they design for. And I don’t have the generic height for it obviously. Had to try on a lot of clothes before they could finally settle me in this!

Walking in the fashion runway for RMIT fashion design students was another way to connect with people in the industry and have fun at the same time. It was an unexpected opportunity but one I’m glad I took.

Explored Melbourne.

Living like a citizen of a country is a lot different from travelling to a country as a tourist. It’s being there everyday, not necessarily going to tourist spots all the time, having a look at the way natives live and work and play.

Most of the time people in Melbourne recommend brunch spots and coffee joints. That’s common I guess, and it’s the culture of the city. But getting out and about brings you to places you might never have expected to go or see things you’d never expect to see.

IMG_3431

Padlocks on the bridge at the Yarra River.

IMG_7161

Night Noodle Market that came to Melbourne in November. Also marked the first time I cycled in Melbourne, and it was nice going down tracks I’d never walked down before. For a noodle market, there weren’t many stalls selling noodles…

Mount Macedon

Conquering heights at Mount Macedon, an hour’s drive away from the city. Truth be told, I hate heights but it’s a great view up there. Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment when you finally reach the top!

brighton beach

Not at all a typical of shot of Brighton Beach. Usually people pose at the touristy spots of the colourful beach houses. But we found our very own mini canyon! Filled with jellyfish and seaweed.

Found role models.

I found new role models this year in people who have struggled so hard to get to where they are now. They are real inspirations to me, and I love reading success stories of people who defied all odds to get to where they want to be.

Red Hong Yi

IMG_4975

Red Hong Yi is a Malaysian artist-architect who creates art using tools like basketballs, flowers and coffee stains. She painted a portrait of Yao Ming and put it up on YouTube, which went viral, and she eventually was contacted to do a portrait for Jackie Chan made out of chopsticks.

When she was a guest speaker at the Melbourne International Student Conference in September, she made the entire room sit up and take notice of her. But it wasn’t just her creativity that made us all admire her, she shared how hard it was for her to struggle to finish her projects, how she took months trying to complete just one. The Jay Chou portrait made out of coffee stains had to be done twice because of a filming issue.

She also talked about trying to find her path after graduation, and her parents feeling fearful about her future. I’m glad her talents are being appreciated, and she is now able to choose to do projects on a large scale without worry from her parents.

(THAT IPAD DROP AT THE END :D)

My personal favourite quote from her is:

“Done is better than Perfect”

And it’s true. We’re constantly so obsessed with making sure that our plan is perfect in our head before we even begin doing anything about it. And that problem stops us from actually starting a project or learning a skill or even just doing something.

Gavin Aung Than / Zen Pencils

IMG_7111

Gavin Aung Than is a Perth-born Melbourne-based artist who is the creator of Zen Pencils. You might not be familiar with him, but you’ve definitely seen his artwork somewhere on the Internet. He uses inspirational quotes from famous people and turns them into cartoon strips.

zen pencils

My personal favourite from Gavin is his tribute to Nelson Mandela, with the poem Invictus.

invictus

I had no idea Gavin was based in Melbourne though, but when I found out he had a book tour with a stop in Melbourne, I wanted to go meet him.

Unfortunately on that day, I got lost and was rushing to get to a dinner. So when I reached the right bookstore, I grabbed a book, ran over, took a quick selfie with him and fangirled all over the place.

It was messy.

I’m fairly sure he thought I was a little insane, but that’s okay. I got to meet him!

Martin Heide 

Architect and owner of Flipboard Cafe

IMG_8883

Flipboard Cafe is a little cafe in La Trobe Street, Melbourne CBD. People have called it an adult tree house or a jenga game, because it looks exactly like that. It’s got little spaces for you to conquer and hang around, while watching everyone else run around the city.

IMG_8924

Martin Heide never meant to be a cafe owner though. He was an architect who wondered what he could do with this tiny space instead of letting it go to waste.

Thanks to his creativity, we now have another cool cafe to hang out in. I’ve visited his studio as well, and it’s just as awesome.

IMG_8889

I actually have no idea if he’s okay with me putting this picture on the World Wide Web. Brolly Studios, if you want this taken down, just let me know!

But the studio looks so awesome! Can you imagine sitting up there…. playing Starcraft? HAHAHA.

Every year, you take a look back and know that you want to do better. 2014 was mostly very kind to me (maybe because I remember the good parts and have forgotten the bad parts?).

I hope 2015 will be the same to me. But in the end, the truth is, we all write our own story and our own year. If you didn’t have a good 2014, there’s always a chance to do better, to get to where we want to be.

p

2015 is a blank page, whether we had a good 2014 or not. Are you ready?

5

I’m dreaming of a mint green Christmas

IMG_7448
This year, my favourite colour is a mix between Tiffany Blue and Mint Green (hence the website skin, appropriate no?) It’s become a very popular colour since last year, and it’s popped up many times on Pinterest.

Home decor and wedding ideas are particularly popular among Pinteresters (is that what they’re called?) although you can find anything from sweets to nail polish in that shade.

Pick your favourite shade! They’re all awesome.

This year, I’m dreaming of a white mint green Christmas.

It was strongly inspired by this Tiffany Blue Christmas tree standing in Chadstone Shopping Centre, Malvern East, Melbourne.

IMG_7444[1]

Classic tiffany boxes wrapped in white ribbon, with silver bauble and decor. Hello Christmas!

IMG_7448

The entire shopping centre is full of decorations of this colour, like this macaron cart. If you love this colour, pay a visit. If you hate this colour… you might want to avoid Chadstone…

Not only that, even the City of Melbourne’s boasting shades of tiffany blue / mint green Christmas spirit:

IMG_7389[1]

The Melbourne Town Hall on Collins Street has a big red bow in the daytime, but flashes all sorts of colours at night. And the timer on the right indicates when the next show will begin.

What show? You have to go see it for yourself! They’ve got a really long Christmas light projection.

It’s so good that people clap at the end. Every. single. time.

Well you can have your very own mint green Christmas at home! Here’s what I like, all repinned from Pinterest.

Aqua and white Christmas! Fancy having a white christmas tree?

More Christmas baubles. Spray-paint some silver glitter, or gold. They still look good either way.

Christmas baubles in a ceramic tin would be a nice decor on a table or as a centrepiece. Or if you’re lazy to get a Christmas tree (what would you do with a tree in the next 11 months?)

Black and white are super classic matching colours.

Mint green dresses! This long shimmery maxi dress makes her look like a mermaid actually.

Shorter cocktail party dress, but just as shiny.

A small mint green accent is cool. Mint green looks really nice with light pink or peach as well. I suppose the key is to keep the colours light.

The problem with Australia in December isn’t in Winter but in hot Summer. Which isn’t a problem for me because I love the summer and hate the winter. At least we can soak in the sun’s rays. What better to do that than in a mint green bathing suit?

Complete the look with sandals, and silver anchors.

And a kaftan to throw over. I can’t believe they have everything in mint green.

Mint green nails! Many nail brands now carry this colour, from OPI to China Glaze to The Face Shop to Essie to ORLY. Yes, the brand is really called ORLY. Like, Oh really? HAHA.

And then if you’re so hardcore, there’s a MINT GREEN CHANEL 2.55 BAG. Like what? Look at that shiny quilted bag with gunmetal hardware.

And check out these super awesome cupcakes.

Cupcakes, macarons, biscuits, top them off with silver sprinkles.

Mint green and christmas red paper straws if you’re feeling extra fancy.

If you’re feeling extra extra fancy, you can get invitation cards. Oh, who am I kidding. Everyone just does Facebook events.

And heart-shaped mint green decorations to string around the house! Party optional.

That nook. I just want to curl up in it with a book, a laptop and a giant blanket.

A bedroom complete with chandelier. Wonder how long it took to match everything?

Ruffles! A little too feminine, but it looks so comfortable too.

And then if you prefer a bit more bling, this is an option instead. I can’t believe even the side tables match.

After the Christmas blues, there’s always a mint green diary for next year. Typo and Kikki.K are stocking up on mint green diaries and calendars if you’re looking to get one. Just check a bookstore / stationery store near you. 2015, how did you reach us so quickly?

Fari 004

My favourite mint green wedges! What’s been your favourite colour ensemble for this Christmas?

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Why do we think that other countries are better than ours?

travel

It all started when I first listened to Taylor Swift’s new song Welcome to New York.

She romanticizes the feeling that she got when she first came to New York, the city of bright lights and bustling people.

I mean I’ve never been to New York so I guess I don’t have much to go from there other than Hollywood movies and Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind.

taylor swift new york

But it made me wonder why Taylor is so quick to praise this other-worldly place, and how we’re so quick to do the same ourselves.

If I ever meet anyone from France, or Vietnam, or Norway, or even New Zealand, I’m filled with this sense of awe, and think of how lucky that person must be. I put myself in their shoes for a moment, and imagine how my life is like if I grew up there, or studied there, or worked there.

But here’s the thing: the other person does the exact same thing.

They reminisce about Singapore, whether they’ve been there or just seen pictures, and they talk about how it must be like to live and eat and shop there.

DSC_0192

We are constantly fascinated by the idea of travel, and we have this romantic notions of tourism and living somewhere else. People from Singapore are fascinated when I tell them I study in Australia. And people in Australia are fascinated that I come from Singapore.

It’s this sense of otherness that they have not experienced before, and they absolutely love it.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, but the weirder bit is when people get embarrassed or awkward of their own homeland.

I met a filmmaker in Singapore who is from New York a year back. He came to Singapore as a student in the New York Tisch School of the Arts (the ill-fated school that no longer exists in Singapore, but that’s another story).

After finding out that he’s from America, I asked him the one question he always gets: why come to tiny Singapore when he’s from America, the huge land of opportunities?

staten island

He wanted a change of scenery. And he got embarrassed when I kept asking about his hometown in Staten Island (one part of New York City) and said that he got so bored of it and the same places that he kept going to.

Instead, he much preferred to walk around Singapore, and talk about Singapore. To him, Singapore was a completely new world and he loved it, and his own homeland didn’t really feel that way.

I meet people in Melbourne who sort of feel the same way. They get embarrassed to say that they’re from Melbourne, and then proceed to talk about how much they want to go work in London, or travel to Cambodia, or study in the USA.

What is it about “the otherness” that we humans find so utterly fascinating?

Is our own country so dull that we can’t stand it? If that’s so, then why would someone else want to come to our country? Why is someone else imagining at this very moment, that they’re us?

paris

When we talk about our own country, we’re immediately drawn into saying something we don’t like about our country, whether it’s corruption, or cleanliness, or lack of funding in the arts sector.

It could be something lighthearted like laughing about Singapore’s chewing gum ban. Or it could be an outright complain about how our ministers are corrupt and there’s only one ruling party who’s so utterly ridiculously incompetent (this doesn’t reflect my personal views about said party).

Why are we so quick to put our own country down while praising other’s?

plane

Maybe it’s because we’ve spent our formative years in one country, our first 15 to 20 years of our lives in one particular country. And this is enough time to make us pine for somewhere else.

That time has shaped our lives, but also our ideas that our country is too boring. We’re waiting for something new, something better, something different.

We think that there’s far more beyond our shores, which is true in a sense. But we’ve developed something called the ‘cultural cringe‘, where we think that our own culture is inferior to other people’s cultures. We gaze at the geishas’ painted faces and kimonos, we dance to the beat of Brazil’s Mardi Gras, we reminisce the Renaissance period in Rome. 

rome

We like them, we admire them, we wish we were a part of them. And sometimes that translates over to us not liking our own culture, or thinking its less colourful, less fun, less vibrant. 

While waiting at a gym once, I watched a mother and her son and daughter come out from gymnastics. And for a minute, I put myself in their shoes. Going for evening sports classes, running out without a coat even though it’s Winter outside because the car’s just nearby anyway, driving home to a house house, with two storeys and a picket fence and a dog. 

I’ve never lived in a house before. I’ve never lived anywhere that’s lower than 5 storeys high. I can’t imagine what it’s like. But I’ve always tried. I always have this romanticized notion that it’ll be wonderful (even though it probably won’t, with the lizards and roaches and fear of someone climbing in through the window). It’s this sense of otherness that I’ve never experienced. 

In my head, it’s romantic.

house and dog

We’re filled with this desire to experience more, we’re waiting to relish in something new. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But sometimes we’re waiting so long that we’ve forgotten to look at what we already have.

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Behind the Scenes: eSynchrony Commercial & Win a Polaroid Camera!

eSynchrony 10

So one ordinary day, I sent my comp card in to a “Rachel” for a commercial she was shooting. She called me up, and it turns out I already knew her. 

Years ago, I helped her group for a small school project they were shooting, and when she saw my pictures, she remembered who I was, and more importantly, she decided I had the right look for the commercial project she was doing as part of Walk and Roll Studios.

Boom! No need for auditions / awkward face-to-face interviews!

The eSynchrony commercial is available at the end if you want to watch it. Here’s a blow-by-blow of the behind-the-scenes. 

eSynchrony isn’t really something that many people have heard of, but it’s actually the umbrella corporation of Lunch Actually (which most people have heard of). The owner of Lunch Actually, Violet Lim, also created eSynchrony along with her team.

And if you still haven’t figured out what it is, eSynchrony is a matchmaking website.

*wink wink*

With the makeup artists and hairstylists Tiffany and Caroline! Basically, they work magic. They’re like my fairy godmothers. I love that they curled my hair instead of leaving it straight.

eSynchrony 5

Them working on Michael Kwah, the male lead. This was the first time I’d ever met him, although we’ve actually worked with on a same production before in different scenes, and worked with the same other people (the acting industry in Singapore is pretty small!).

eSynchrony 4

Us with the creators of Walk and Roll Studios, producer Rachel (left, standing) and director Lun (right). So when they were in Chapman University years ago, I worked with them when they were doing a school project. Years later they called me up out of the blue when they won the rights to film this production.

Luckily they still remember me!

eSynchrony 2

We shot this in a cafe near the Singapore Arts Museum and the owners were very nice. They kept plying us with food because we were supposed to be on a total of two different dates (that happen on different days), so the food obviously had to change.

And we got to eat the food/drinks too. Actor’s life is a hard life. 

eSynchrony 3

It took a whole day to shoot, but we were quite on schedule, which is always nice. And being able to meet Michael was great, because he’s worked on a lot of productions with a lot of talented people, so he’s much more familiar with the industry than I am. 

eSynchrony 8

The green heart was actually made of clay, and made by Walk and Roll Studios themselves. 

This production was fairly easy to shoot because there were no lines, just a montage with an overlay of music, so they could streamline the production with no need for sound recording. 

eSynchrony 7

See… if you freeze-framed this, this is the reason why I should not be doing a dating commercial. I look like I’m saying “Are you the one? Are you? ARE YOU?” *desperate*

Director Lun works magic, by the way.

eSynchrony 9

My heels make a cameo appearance. If you’ve seen the Gadis Marmalade music video, they’re the exact same pair. One day they might get onscreen credit for appearing on camera so many times.

eSynchrony 6
Dat contact lens. HAHA. I never particularly thought I looked good in an orange hue, but like I said, director Lun can work magic. 

I honestly think this is the best I’ve ever looked on screen, but that’s all the work of the makeup artists and hairstylists, and the cameraman’s angles. And the combo of soft lighting, sweet music and slo-mo, we’ve got a winner.

Before you watch the commercial, Walk and Roll Studios is actually organizing a Nifty Fifty photo-contest! 

eSynchrony 11

Win a polaroid camera (actually I’m hoping I win it myself, then can take photos for graduation LOL) by uploading a photo relating to the theme on their Facebook page and getting 10 likes. Theme for this month is Two. It closes on 10 December.

eSynchrony 12

This is my picture, vote for me! (And let me know if you joined too!)

And if you’re not based in Singapore but in Melbourne, you can always enter it and I have Singaporean friends who can bring it to you if you win! If you’re in another country… you might be out of luck. I don’t know how to help you already.

Watch the commercial!

(With that being said, I’ve personally never used this service so don’t go looking for me on that site HAHA).

Go forth and enjoy that commercial! 

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Behind the Scenes: Television Show Exposed Season 2 – Episode 5 (Dot Cons On Dot Com)

exposed 18

Singapore totally loves filming docu-dramas. It’s probably because we like our dramas to imitate real-life, and what better way than to do film something that was inspired by true events? Couple that with our liking to watch cop shows (Crime Watch, Crime Confidential, etc) and it’s no wonder there’s always a crime show to be filmed.

Exposed is another docu-drama, inspired by real-life crime events in Singapore. 

Vertigo Pictures filmed Season 2, and I auditioned and won the part of a scammer’s friend in Episode 5: Dot Coms On Dot Com. As the name suggests, it was a blogshop scam.

Here’s some behind the scene snaps of what went on. If you want to watch the full episode, it’s available at the end.

My character was named Gek Choo, which I’d like to imagine is a tribute to the late Geok Choo, Lee Kuan Yew’s wife. Although the truth is it’s probably just a variation of the name of the real person.

The first scene we shot was on the railway tracks. I’d actually just got off working with Sheryl (lead character Kyra) from another production so it was awesome to see her again.

exposed 7

Pretending to look all professional with our soundman/cameraman/director roles respectively. Me, Christine and Sheryl.

exposed 5

Real soundman gets a boom microphone, because he actually really is doing the sound. Fake soundman doesn’t get one because all I have to do is pretend to turn the knobs when the cameras roll.

(Check out those pajama pants, by the way)

exposed 9

Lead character Sheryl with the real production team capturing her every move.

exposed 10

The girls! The production team called us Chio Bu (Hokkien slang for pretty girl) numbers 1 to 4, because they kept mixing up our real and onscreen names. I was Chio Bu number 3 HAHA.

And when I worked with Danny the cameraman for the second time in another production a few months later, the only thing that jogged his memory was “Oh the four chio bus? Okay now I remember which episode you were in” HAHAHA.

exposed 8

The second day of shooting was much more rigorous. We were sitting down most of the time, but it also meant a lot of dialogue to memorize. We also had the temptation of coffee sitting in front of us even though we couldn’t drink it till the end of the day!

(Also, I have no idea where that plant in the picture came from, so I’m pretty sure that’s an app. This wasn’t taken with my phone.)

exposed 15

Ahh, that gorgeous coffee macro-shot.

And that PSI HAHAHAHA (if you’re not familiar with what PSI is, it’s the Pollutant Standards Index, which is monitored on free-to-air television channels whenever the air pollution rises above the ordinary safe levels. It usually happens when there’s haze from Indonesia’s annual forest fires. Clearly, this episode aired during that time)

IMG_7305

The apple logo on the MacBook had to be covered up so that the company wouldn’t run into logo/trademark copyright law problems. The same was done for the “MacBook” logo below the screen when they shot close-up shots of the laptop.

IMG_7304

Chio Bu 1, 2 and 3! You can decide for yourself which girl to assign to what number.

All those notebooks and miscellaneous papers had our scripts written down, by the way. How convenient!

exposed 16

That eyebrow raise. Blink and you’ll miss it.

exposed 17

“Let’s do a super wide shot”

My character talks about Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon, and the script ends with me ad-libbing the rest of the scene, so I looked up the movie just so that I knew what I’d be talking about, instead of jabbering randomly like an idiot.

And Kurosawa’s entire movie is actually available online! Rashomon is a slow movie though, but then again we are so used to fast-paced movies that we simply can’t sit through a slow one without wanting to press fast-forward.

Digressing, the movie actually spawned the Rashomon Effect whereby the same event is recounted by different people, and they all have differing interpretations. It’s like an event where someone gets murdered, and the witnesses all have different accounts of what they saw.

Anyway! Back to the show.

exposed 11

We moved out to Arab Street after that for a bit of outdoor shots. Director Mark Pestana is on the right. He’s an award-winning director of a documentary called Almost Famous: Close-Up of the Kathoeys in the World Television Award 2011. He was also quite involved in several Channel NewsAsia (Singapore) productions as a writer and producer.

exposed 13

This was my favourite bit out of the entire shooting. They’d decided to get an over-the-shoulder shot of the character moving, so they took out all the tripods and went handheld.

And then they had to move as one singular unit so that everything would sync with each other (the sound wouldn’t fade in and out, the lighting would look constant on the actors’ faces). It’s like the soldiers in 300 working together as a single unit (without the shields and swords. Well, they do say that a camera is a weapon?)

exposed 14 copy

That’s a wrap! Sort of.

exposed 1

Day 3 of shooting consisted of sit-down scenes again. I actually found it really hard because they wanted us to adhere strongly to the script. It depends from production to production.

Some companies have no script at all and want you to ad-lib some lines.

Some companies have a script but make leeway if you decide to change some words (as long as it makes sense and seems natural).

And some companies want you to read the script line for line (it’s not a bad thing, but the pressure is definitely on to get everything right).

exposed 2

I was really impressed with Christine, the other actor, in this scene. She had to be distant and incredibly upset (in the storyline, her character gets scammed) and she managed to squeeze out a couple of tears.

She taught me her technique after that, but I don’t think I can pull it off.

exposed 3

And that’s a real wrap!

I was quite pleased with the final product, because it’s one of the times I personally feel I’m more natural when spouting my lines. Sometimes, especially during my earlier projects, I felt liked I looked really uncomfortable on screen. 

Enjoy the show! Let me know if you liked it! 

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

How to Handle Rejection, and Everything That Comes With It

IMG_7297

I initially thought that the first of a series chronicling my acting journey should be on something positive. Joyful, even. Acting often comes hand in hand with passion, because passion is what fuels an actor to keep going on.

But another thing that goes hand in hand with acting is rejection.

Rejection isn’t easy to handle. At what point is it ever? Whether it’s for a new job, a school application, a scholarship, even for a date, no one wants to hear that word No. 

That disappointment when we eagerly scan the contents of an email only to find that fateful one line hidden between generically polite words thanking you for making an effort for coming down to see them, but no, they didn’t choose you.

While most of these examples focus on aspiring actors and models, rejection is so universal that I’m sure you’d have experienced something similar at some point in time. You might just find this useful in everyday life.

Rejection is something that any actor constantly faces, whether you are an extra, or you’re in Hollywood. For every role that an actor gets, roughly 20-100 other actors who auditioned for that same role will be rejected. And particularly when you’re starting out, rejection is something very difficult to deal with, again and again and again.

Emma Stone

Emma Stone, star of Easy A and the Amazing Spiderman movies, revealed that she “hit rock-bottom” after auditioning for Heroes.

She was in the next room waiting for her turn and heard the casting directors tell the previous auditionee (Hayden Panettiere) “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re an 11”. Hayden obviously, got the role.

And while Emma Stone eventually got some great roles like Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A and Gwen Stacy in Spiderman, it was hard for her to deal with watching someone else win the role she wanted

Auditions are a difficult process. Sometimes, a casting director already has an exact person in mind (tall, short, long hair, pixie cut, brunette, blonde, braces) and if you don’t fit that persona, they wouldn’t consider you.

I was cast in a production by NTU once solely because I had short hair then. I was cast in the Gadis Marmalade music video just because I was short and had long hair. And that was exactly the character they needed at that time.

And at the same time, I’ve been rejected for roles just because I had long hair at that time, or I looked too happy to play the particular role.

It’s exactly like going to a job interview each and every time, trying to make yourself stand out to them, trying to tell them with words and expressions and charisma that I’m the one you want, hire me!

IMG_2897

Am I the one you want?

Yet of course that won’t be the case for each audition.

And so here’s some things that I’ve found in my journey through rejection:

Audition, then forget about it.

After going for one, I just sit there and try to put it out of my mind. Because obsessing about it won’t be useful. If I keep thinking about it, there’s 2 scenarios that can happen:

1) Thinking I’ve got it in the bag would make me strut around in confidence till months later, when I finally realize that they’re not going to call me.

2) Thinking I’ve done badly will only cause me to obsess about it and the things I could’ve would’ve should’ve done but didn’t and now it’s too late.

But putting it out of your mind helps you to focus, and gives you a nice surprise if they do call back and say why yes, you are the perfect one for us, we want you on board.

All you can do is learn how to do better, and go for the next one.

Be prepared. 

The good news about going to so many auditions is that you learn from every single one. You improve, because you understand that little bit more about what to do next time. You learn how to think faster, you learn how to act that little bit funnier, you learn to cry that little bit faster (or at least seem more authentic).

And most of all, you learn how to prepare better for the next one.

I’ve had to deal with a lot of rejection, much more when I first started out. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to behave, I wasn’t sure what to wear, and I assumed that that was the most important thing to the casting directors (It’s not that that’s not important, but really it’s the talent that matters most).

Coming early shows the casting director that you probably won’t be late for the actual shoot. Knowing more about the company gives you an idea of whether they’re probably casting for a happy product commercial or a serious or inspiring commercial.

Being prepared calms your nerves a little bit more too, and that obviously helps when you’re in the room with all these mysterious people watching you and a camera trained to catch your every move.

In my first few auditions I’d fumble over props, I’d stutter over lines, I’d blank out in the middle of a scene. And I’d come out thinking I was an idiot and I’d be lucky if they ever contacted me again.

The best part though, is that sometimes they really do contact you. You may have thought you did a bad job but they might think otherwise.

This truth is, it’s scary walking in to every single audition, whether you’re prepared or not. Some companies don’t even tell you any information beforehand, whether it’s because of a lack of preparation on their part, or they want to keep it a secret till you arrive (to test your creativity and ability to ad-lib on the spot).

Others give you a script to memorize, which makes it easier because you have a better idea of what to expect.

But the moment they train a camera on you, the pressure is on. You have one shot (maybe two, if the casting director is generous) to impress them. You have one shot to be exactly as they envision your character to be, whether it’s happy and perky, or upset and crying, or angry and screaming.

Being prepared will help you to stutter less, to be more confident of delivering the script, to hopefully be able to ad-lib better and to generally be more confident all around.

I attended an audition once, where we were to audition as part of a group, and all we had do was to say two lines: your name and something about you. And the casting directors deliberated over that alone whether to choose you or not (I got in, but that also meant that I watched 5 other people leave with their hopes shattered).

Learn from your mistakes.

That’s also how you grow as an actor (or pretty much in any position). You take what went wrong in the last audition (if anything went wrong, I suppose) and you try to refine it. Did you forget your lines? Did you rush through it and stumble over your words?

Did you not have a resume or document that you should have? Did you not know the name of the company or boss? It’s not that you shouldn’t, but knowing it definitely gives you an advantage.

And a lot of the time, presentation is huge. I’ve seen people come in to an audition with flip-flops or a singlet (to be honest, there are some who actually get in after that) and I wonder what they’re thinking. Unless the role actually does call for you to be in a singlet (coffeeshop owner? sportswear commercial?) just… don’t. 

audi

Going in with your own personal army and theme music playing in the background might be a little bit too much though…

Confidence is another huge factor in presentation. Not everyone is extroverted and nobody expects you to be, but going in hunched and unwilling to make eye contact with anyone wouldn’t be a good thing (unless again, the role calls for someone who’s nervous/shifty/terrified, then maybe that would make perfect sense). 

And at the end of the day, sometimes you don’t get cast simply because you weren’t what the casting director is looking for. It’s not always based on your abilities, which is sometimes comforting but also painful.

Keep going.

I know several people who are no longer part of the industry any more, because of how harsh it is.

People drop out of it, year after year, because they couldn’t take the pressure, because they couldn’t take the constant rejection, because they kept comparing themselves to their competition and thinking that they wouldn’t be able to match up to that.

Some realize that the money they earn isn’t enough, and no matter how much passion they’ve got, passion won’t be able to feed a family and the responsibilities that come with it.

It’s a harsh industry, but the truth is, some people think they’ve been in it for too long when they’ve actually quit too early.

When I first started out, I hated having to keep going for auditions in the first few months, then never hearing from them ever again, or getting a polite generic rejection. When more people said no to me than yes, I thought, why was I putting myself through so much agony and depression?

Within the first 3 months, I thought of dropping out, of leaving the acting industry.

I loved it, but I couldn’t stand it. But I chose to go on. I went for many other auditions, and finally I got a role in a promo filmlet by Old School Sinema (a mini film, basically) to promote the ciNE65 competition.

This boosted my confidence. The director said I was the only one who fully understood a particular line in the script she wrote, and said it in the exact way that she imagined it in her head.

“Forget about the relationship forget it or forget it, let’s break up forget it?”

Based on that alone, she was campaigning for me. She’d decided I want this girl. (See how random this can be? There is no hard and fast rule. There might be this one particular detail that makes a director want you to play the character. Then again, there might be this one particular detail that makes a director not want you.)

Because I won this role and had a great shoot, I kept going on. That was in July 2011. That October I won the role of a lead character in a KFC Commercial by Apostrophe Films.

(Couldn’t they have picked a better screenshot?)

BAM and just like that, my credibility went up. I still get recognized for the commercial from time to time, and winning this role made me decide to stay in the acting industry and keep going. 

Best thing is, the day before the audition for this KFC commercial, I went for another audition for HSA (government board Health Sciences Authority) where I auditioned for multiple roles. And I was pretty bad in it, I just wasn’t natural even though the casting director was kind enough to let me audition the script several times. He actually stepped in and give tips and tell me how I should sound (“you’re talking to your friend, not your boss”). But no matter how much I tried, I sucked. I came out feeling like crap.

The next day, I went in to Apostrophe Films still thinking about yesterday’s audition, but decided to keep going anyway. I went in, had a lot of ideas, read for several different characters and left feeling good. But I decided to forget about both auditions.

Two weeks later, I got the call.

If I’d given up that July, I wouldn’t have done the ciNE65 promo filmlet. If I’d given up in October, I wouldn’t have been the face of a television commercial.  

All you can do is learn how to deal with rejection, and keep going on.

IMG_7304

Good luck!

What’s your personal experience with rejection? How have you managed to deal with it? 

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Top 10 Disney Songs

disney 5

Disney has enjoyed an undeniably huge market share in the world of children’s movies, capturing the hearts of many children who have grown up under Western influences, both boys and girls alike.

And although we children eventually grow up to become adults, we still feel the tugs of nostalgia whenever we remember our childhood that is (or was) dominated by stories of princesses and talking animals and dancing objects (candlesticks, statues, snowmen, I mean what’s next?).

Disney has released so many catchy songs, with the latest being Frozen, which was playing everywhere (to the point of massive Frozen-fatigue).

This list of the best Disney songs was compiled with great nostalgia, as I recall the great songs I grew up with, and enjoyed each and every one.

10. Colours of the Wind – Pocahontas

Colours of the Wind, sung by Christina Williams, the same actress who played Wilhemina Slater in Ugly Betty (I never knew Wilhemina Slater was a singer before I googled Pocahontas).

It’s a very native American song which talks about connecting with the earth and respecting it. Natives are extremely proud of their land, they don’t see it the same way we do. We think it’s just land, where you build stuff like railroads and houses on it, but they feel incredibly insulted if you so much as attempt to claim their land as your own.

https://i2.wp.com/images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/6600000/Pocahontas-and-John-Smith-pocahontas-6616023-629-585.jpg

Pocahontas: the first SPG?

9. Circle of Life – The Lion King

It’s catchy, even though you don’t even know the words. I always substitute the lyrics with any words and change it every single time I sing it. Try it!  It’s the most noticeable opening song, starting with the big boom. I remember always having to turn down the volume first, otherwise the whole house will hear a big BOOM at the beginning of the song.

The Lion King was the first movie I ever watched, and easily became my favourite when I was a child. And fast forward 15 years, I’m still angry that Mufasa died (but to be honest now, I love Scar so much more for his villainy).

disney 4

Hey wait a minute…

8. The Bear Necessities – The Jungle Book

A highly addictive song, the Bear(Bare?) Necessities ranks high on the list of top Disney songs. Who didn’t want to be a jungle kid and have a singing Baloo to run around a jungle with?

7. I Won’t Say I’m In Love – Hercules

Sometimes I forget that Hercules is a Disney movie, because it doesn’t even look like the other conventional cutesy cartoons Disney constantly pumps out.

A super anti-feminist song against the romantic notions of love, with background vocals provided by five talking statues. When I first heard it, I thought it was going to be a boring song. But it’s a super catchy song.

6. Be Our Guest – Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast have some of the most catchy songs, including Be Our Guest, sung by a talking candlestick. The things Disney animates…

But I really enjoyed this song because of how over-the-top it was. Especially the silverware dancing!

disney 1

Yep, this totally happens whenever I sit down for dinner.

5. I’ll Make a Man Out of You – Mulan


One of the most macho songs Disney could possibly pump out, this is just like the Disney version of Eye Of The Tiger. The kind of music that gets you pumped up, and increases your adrenaline.

Does anyone else listen to this too while at the gym?

disney 2

4. Strangers like Me – Tarzan

By Phil Collins, the man who helmed all the songs for Tarzan. Somehow I feel that Phil Collins’ songs do get overlooked in these top 10 Disney song lists. But he releases some of the nicest songs.

3. Tale as Old as Time – Beauty and the Beast

Who would have thought a song sung by a teapot, and danced by a animated girl and a large animal could be so beautiful? And so romantic.

I love how the video is so 3D, even though that technology didn’t exist at that time, especially the part where it zooms from the chandelier to the duo dancing. I still don’t know how they did that. Beauty and the Beast was released during a period hailed as the “Disney Renaissance“.

disney 3

This video totally justifies that.

2. Under The Sea – The Little Mermaid

The Caribbean-style music has to make the top few on this list. I was wrestling between this and the romantic Tale as Old as Time, but I like this for it’s upbeat notes and cold (a.k.a. abrupt) ending.

Very good to use while hosting a radio show because the song will immediately end and the DJ can start talking, no overlapping-headache required (if you’ve ever done radio studio work, you totally know what I’m talking about).

Did you know this song was once hailed as being racially-insensitive? They compared underwater creatures as ‘black’ people who did nothing ‘under the sea’, because underwater, you don’t have to get a job. Get it? With Sebastian providing black-sounding vocals? How about the part when the blackfish appears? Hmm.

1. A Whole New World – Aladdin

A duet between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. I was considering not adding this because of A Whole New World fatigue, can’t stand listening to this anymore after babysitting too much.

It was not just a love song but also a song that defined Jasmine’s want that she could not have: freedom. And the fact that the magic carpet could bring her to the dizzying heights and distances she previously could not reach.

What’s your favourite Disney song? Are you still hung up on Frozen or do you have Frozen-fatigue?

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin

Food Life Hacks for College Students

Well actually, these life hacks will suit anyone. But in college, we all just want to find ways to make our lives easier while we’re on the move. The two things we’re always asking ourselves is:

1. How do we make food quickly and efficiently?

2. and how do we keep food for longer (cause we don’t always eat in)?

If you’ve read the Ketchup packet life hacks, there are a couple of ways you can life hack your ketchup packets that are provided in fast food restaurants. Here’s some more hacks that you can do at home:

1) How to make Oreo milk iced coffee:

7

I TOTALLY NEED TO DO THIS. Power up your iced latte or iced coffee with, what else but Oreo cookies? Just break up the Oreo cookies (add in the creme centers if you want sweeter coffee) then throw them into ice cube trays and add milk. Freeze them and use them the next time you need a coffee boost. I mean… Oreo Iced latte…

2) Bacon and egg cups (you can substitute bacon with chicken ham or turkey ham).

3

I’ve tried this before at a camp and it’s totally easy! You can either scramble the eggs just like in the picture or just leave them unscrambled so they come out sunny side up. It’s quite easy to clean too, because it only requires a muffin tin.

3) The Bread Monster:

9

I mean, if you have a giant loaf of bread just lying around (normally we’d buy sliced bread though), then you can slice it into squares (don’t slice it the whole way through) and fill it with 1/2 cup of melted butter, cheese, spring onions and slices of ham too. Wrap it in aluminium foil and bake it at 180°C for 15 minutes. Then unwrap it and bake for another 10 minutes till the cheese is melted. Makes for awesome finger food.

4) Not only that, it works for potatoes too! Check out The Potato Monster:

4

Slice a potato (again, don’t slice all the way through, make sure it can still stand up) and drizzle it with olive oil, butter, salt and pepper, then fill it with cheese and sour cream (yes add ham/chicken ham if you want) and bake it at 215°C for 40 minutes.

5) Cookie cutter-shaped pancakes and eggs:

8

Instead of plain round pancakes, cookie cutters mold the pancake batter into a certain shape and makes them thicker and fluffier. I mean, how cute are these? They won’t run all over the place either.

11

The same thing for eggs, so you get a nice contained sunny side up. No mess, no hassle, no extra egg bits on the side of the pan and it’s easy to clean too.

6) Share that toaster:

1

The bread look really cramped, but this life hack toasts one side of each bread while keeping the other side soft. Hey, has anyone tried the grilled cheese toaster method before?

7) How to cut cherry tomatoes (and other hard-to-cut round food):

12

Just contain the cherry tomatoes in between two lids and slice through. No need to individually cut them anymore! half cherry tomatoes taste super awesome when baked in an oven with a bit of olive oil, pepper and herbs, by the way. Roast them at 200°C for 15 minutes.

8) How to get chips easily from the bag:

14

Just roll the bottom of the bag so that it stands up. Bonus: the chips get propped up too. If you want to close the bag, just unroll the bottom.

Here’s another way to share a bag of chips without having to stick your hand in the bag:

Bite the center of the bag and tear it in a circle. Super easy to see the contents inside! It wouldn’t work if you’ve got a tiny lunch-sized bag of chips though.

9) Wrap the top of bananas to make them last longer:

2

Bananas are always tricky. They’re either overripe or underripe and it’s incredibly annoying when that happens. Just wrap the stems with plastic cling wrap to make them last longer.

10) Keep your ice cream soft in the freezer:

10

I’ve not tried this before, but it looks interesting. I assume the condensation stick to the plastic ziplock bag instead of seeping through the ice cream tub, so that the ice cream stays soft.

Here’s an infographic that shows how long food can be stored. They actually can keep for a long period of time, but we often throw food out cause we don’t know how long they can stand:

6Here’s a tip: uncooked food lasts for much longer than cooked food. But food stored in a freezer can actually last for a very long time. I’ve tried cooking and eating beef that was stored in my freezer for two months, and I didn’t get sick after that.
Of course, if you think anything smells weird or bad, just toss it out!

One more life hack that I tried that DOES NOT WORK (who knows, maybe it will for you? Let me know if it does!):

13

I see this loads of times in different life hacking websites, so obviously I was interested in trying it out. However, I had the stove on high heat, and when I placed a wooden spoon on the top of a pot, it still bubbled over. Even after it simmered down and start bubbling again, it still bubbled over. I’ve tried this several times, so I conclude this to be a failed hack.

Have you tried any of them? Do they work? Got any special food hacks not mentioned here?

– Fari Wu

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin