They say that behind every strong man is a strong woman. But the same can be said for these rising stars – who tell DAVELLE LEE that their mums’ unwavering love and support is the reason they’re so successful today.
<b>TOP GAP JEANS</b> UNIQLO
Claire Jedrek, 35
Chai Jedrek, 66
At 17, a free-spirited and independent Chai moved out of her parents’ home and went to the UK. “I did it all. I went to parties, travelled across Europe, and I saw The Rolling Stones, Prince, and The Who live in concert,” she says. It was also in the UK that she met her husband, and eventually settled down.
Chai – aﬀectionately known as Mummy Jedrek or M.J. to her family – would go on to raise her daughter Claire, a television host and Singapore’s only woman race car driver, with that same independent streak and sense of self-reliance.
When Claire was 15, M.J. cut her allowance, reasoning that she was old enough to earn her own keep. This became the push for Claire to seek out modelling and other part-time work.
When Claire signed up for motorcycling lessons at 18, M.J. didn’t freak out. “As long as she was paying, I wasn’t going to stop her. I believe that if you don’t try, you won’t know what it’s like,” she explains. When Claire eventually got into motor sports, M.J. wasn’t worried. “She’s done crazier things, like bungee jumping.” The pair didn’t always see eye to eye when Claire was younger, but Chai has always given her daughter space.
Claire, who now runs The Karting Arena – an electric karting circuit – with her husband and sister, makes sure she carves out time to visit the nail salon or hairdresser’s with her mother. “As much as we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, we have to spend time together,” she says.
“I get emotional thinking about how my mum is young at heart, but her body’s getting older. She said to me once, ‘I’ll never leave this earth until I know you’re fine’. And I told her, ‘Then, you’re never leaving’.”
<b>OUTFITS</b> NADIAH’S & HAMIDAH’S OWN
I GOT IT FROM MY MAMA
Nadiah M Din, 27
Hamidah Jalil, 57
She may have been just five at the time, but when Nadiah M Din declared that she wanted to become an actress, her mother, Hamidah Jalil, didn’t bat an eyelid.
Why should she, when both Hamidah and her late husband – a musician – were the sources of that inspiration? The couple had always surrounded their six children with art, theatre and music.
Nadiah, whose TV credits include roles in Channel 5 dramas, is close to her mother. Like best friends, they chat about anything, and often finish each other’s sentences.
“Before she got married, we would spontaneously go out for movies and dinners together,” says Hamidah.
There’s another reason the pair are so close. In 2007, Nadiah’s father died, leaving her mother bereft. “We would find her in her room, with my dad’s clothes, smelling and touching them,” Nadiah recalls. The family rallied around Hamidah. Nadiah, then 17, stopped acting and rejected new projects to spend more time at home with her mother.
One of the rare times tension brewed between them was when Nadiah introduced then-boyfriend Bilal Jeanpierre to the family. Hamidah was concerned that, being of a diﬀerent culture and religion, the Frenchman might find it diﬃcult to fit in.
Bilal eventually won Hamidah over, and the couple got married last year. At present, they live next door, which works out well, as Nadiah is now four months pregnant. Hamidah is looking after her throughout the pregnancy.
That kind of care and love for others – even strangers – is typical of her mother, says Nadiah. It’s a value she tries to emulate, and one she wants to pass on to her child.
ON SANDRA: <b>TOP</b> GAP ; ON SHARON: <b>SHIRT</b> ZARA <b>TRENCHCOAT</b> MASSIMO DUTTI
MUM’S GOT HER BACK
Sandra Riley Tang, 26
Sharon Liew, 57
The Sam Willows’ singer Sandra Riley Tang and her mother are like night and day. Sandra, with hair dyed bright blue, is bold and edgy, and talks easily to people around her. Her mother, Sharon, is mild-mannered and reserved.
During the interview and photo shoot, Sandra often places a reassuring hand on Sharon’s arm with the aim of drawing her into the conversation, while Sharon consults her daughter on the outfits that best suit her. It’s obvious that Sandra’s protective of her mum, who usually shuns the camera and is now clearly out of her comfort zone.
Sharon says her daughter has always known exactly what she wants. “Sandra was a very intelligent child, she could make decisions for herself,” she explains.
She points to Sandra’s “entrepreneurial spirit” when, aged just seven, she sold her classmates seashells she’d collected during a holiday, and made a $3 profit. “My parents didn’t even scold me, although I was technically conning my friends,” says Sandra with a laugh. “When we had diﬀerences in opinion, my mother would hear me out rather than try to stop me, and we always tried to reach a common understanding.”
Their relationship is still fuelled by mutual aﬃrmation and support. When Sandra gets busy – which is often, with her yoga studio The Yoga Co., commitments to The Sam Willows, and a solo music project – Sharon sends her care baskets, containing honey (to soothe her voice) and Famous Amos cookies (her favourite treat).
In return, Sandra takes the time to keep her mum in the loop about her life – right down to whether she’s had dinner, or who she’s hanging out with. “I text her before she can nag at me,” Sandra jokes.
Joking aside, Sandra says her mum’s selflessness stands out – and she’s trying hard to emulate it. “She always puts the needs of others before herself and sometimes in the simplest ways, like going out of her way to buy someone a drink.”
And it’s clear that no one is prouder of Sandra than her mother. “As long as it’s her passion, I know she will excel,” says Sharon.
Sandra adds: “If I told her today that I wanted to become a food hawker and make char kway teow, she’d give me her blessings.”
PHOTOGRAPHY FRENCHESCAR LIM
STYLING SOPHIE FERGUSON JONES
HAIR CHRISTIAN MARANION, USING JOSE EBER TOOLS
MAKEUP ZANN THIANG/27A.CO