What do you get when you take five actresses from Crazy Rich Asians, an armful of gorgeous gowns, and add a sprinkling of holiday cheer? A joyous celebration of a year well-lived BY NATALYA MOLOK
THE JOY BLINDFOLD TEST
Kheng let her senses take over when she caught a whiff of Dior’s latest perfume: “It smells like a field of flowers – lots and lots of flowers. It makes me feel like running across that field, using my hands to swipe up all those blooms while smiling and being happy.”
KHENG WEARS NEEDLE & THREAD GOWN FROM ROBINSONS; AND EARRINGS FROM APM MONACO
"The only project I have in December is the best project possible - spending precious time with my loved ones"
Tan Kheng Hua
55, FLY Entertainment Artiste
From her breakthrough role on television as Margaret Phua in Phua Chu Kang to her scenestealing turn on the big screen in Hollywood’s breakout hit of the year, Crazy Rich Asians, Tan Kheng Hua has always captivated audiences with her warmth, talent and exuberant personality.
As Kerry Chu, the mother of Chinese- American heroine Rachel (played by Constance Wu), Kheng shone in a role that was tailor-made for her as she, too, is a fiercely protective mother-of-one in real life.
“My daughter, Shi-An, always brings out the best in me. And I’m very flawed. But Shi-An and a handful of other people, they make me feel happy with myself,” says the actress-director, who was able to channel that love into her on-screen persona.
Unsurprisingly, the star’s stellar acting chops caught the attention of a myriad international talent agents, and she’s since signed up with GVA Talent Agency and Zero Gravity Management in Los Angeles, and Conway van Gelder Grant, in London. This means we can expect to see our local darling transition into a new phase of her acting career.
“The biggest surprise of 2018 is being reminded that anything can happen, at no matter what age and when you least expect it,” she says. ”I never thought that these wondrous, delightful things would come my way but they did, and I’m so grateful it turned out this way.”
She adds that she’s been particularly touched by the recognition she has received for her work, as well as the support from family and friends over the past year, which she says has also given her a new lease of life.
For 2019, Kheng is looking forward to even more work in and out of Singapore. She has wrapped up filming on Foreign Skies, a four-part limited series for British TV broadcaster Channel 4, and she will also be starring in the HBO film, The Garden Of Evening Mists, based on the novel by Asian writer Tan Twan Eng.
But before that, the actress is looking forward to a well-deserved break over the Christmas holidays. “I’m going to Tokyo with my daughter,” she shares. “I turned away all work for a while so the only project I have in December is the best project possible – spending precious time with loved ones.”
A NEW ICON
Almost 20 years since Maison Dior launched J’adore in 1999, it’s time for another icon to join its fragrance family. An ode to pleasure and happiness, the debut of JOY by Dior marks a new chapter in the fashion house’s illustrious history.
THE JOY BLINDFOLD TEST
Dior’s latest fragrance allowed Janice’s artistic sensibilities to lead the way: “I smell romance. It makes me think of a romantic holiday in Paris with someone you love.”
JANICE WEARS NEEDLE & THREAD GOWN FROM ROBINSONS; AND RING FROM APM MONACO
"I have a bunch of friends coming over for Christmas"
Janice Koh 44, FLY Entertainment Artiste & Former NMP
A stalwart in the entertainment scene here, Janice epitomises charm, so it’s no wonder she was chosen to portray the formidable Felicity Young. “It was a real privilege to watch the work of these talented actors up close. Most of my scenes were with Michelle [Yeoh], who is extremely gracious and kind, especially to her crew. A true professional,” reveals Janice.
While the actress says the year as a whole can be summed up in one word – “Crazy” – she’s also extremely thankful for how it has all panned out. “It’s been a year of change for my family. One of my sons took his Primary School Leaving Examinations, and my husband was going through a career change, so while I usually cope well with stress, I suffered from anxiety attacks,” she confesses.
“I honestly didn’t expect the movie to have the huge impact that it did, but I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to represent and promote a landmark film in Hollywood. It would not have been possible without the support of my management and the Singapore Tourism Board.”
Heading into the holidays, Janice and her loved ones have grand plans in store. “I’m headed to New Zealand to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate a place of natural beauty. I can’t wait to decompress and just hang out with my kids and my hubby.”
On Christmas Day, she goes back to a tried-and-true tradition. “I have a bunch of old friends with whom we have lunch every year, together with our families. We’ve kept this up for almost two decades, including our Secret Santa gift exchange, which is the most fun part!”
THE JOY BLINDFOLD TEST
Selena lets us in on the sensorial treat that is JOY by Dior: “It smells like a sea breeze and it makes me feel relaxed. I associate it with a luscious and fun holiday.”
SELENA WEARS DRESS FROM RENTADELLA; AND MARY KATRANTZOU JACKET FROM FROM THE OUTNET
"I got to experience the stuff girls’ dreams are made of"
Selena Tan 47, Actress
Anyone with a phone can be dubbed an artist these days, but to be defined as an A-lister is to find yourself breathing the same rarefied air as Constance Wu and Lisa Lu.
A supporting member of this club is Selena, who has been upgraded to platinum member status since starring as Alix Cheng in the Warner Bros’ hit.
“Walking on that jade carpet in Los Angeles is the stuff girls’ dreams are made of,” says Selena wistfully.
But if anything, the whole process also woke her up to an important fact. “I realised by doing this film, that there are different women in different situations all around the world and their stories are waiting to be told,” she says.
Mum to a four-year-old, Selena contends that her year consisted not only of juggling her roles as a parent and actress, but also being part of a select group that has helped to shape the world’s perception of our home.
“It was important to me how Singapore was portrayed to the world,” explains the actress who’s famed for her musical, Dim Sum Dollies. “It was a gift to be able to be part of this movie. I consider it a present to myself because on top of everything else that I was blessed with this year, I also got to be part of Crazy Rich Asians.”
For Christmas, the actress hopes to enjoy some family time but more excitedly, she’s ready for more movies: “Whether it’s Crazy Rich Asians two, three, four, five or six… bring them on!”
A vibrant burst of white flowers tinged with a kiss of citrus fruits alongside a whisper of creamy sandalwood – the feeling of sheer delight has finally been captured in a scent. JOY by Dior speaks to the confident, passionate and carefree woman in all of us.
THE JOY BLINDFOLD TEST
Chieng Mun had this to say about Dior’s latest scintillating scent: “It’s quite light and it smells of lemons. It gives me a feeling of freshness. I smell flowers, too, which is life-giving. It evokes beauty.”
CHIENG MUN WEARS DRESS FROM TED BAKER; AND EARRINGS FROM SOCIETYA
"I thought my career was over but it’s all just beginning again"
Koh Chieng Mun 59, Actress and Radio DJ
A breast cancer diagnosis took her away from the spotlight for a couple of years, but what a comeback this veteran actress has made since. As Neena Goh on Crazy Rich Asians, Chieng Mun made her triumphant return to film as the Singlishspeaking mother of Peik Lin (played by American rapper-comedian Awkwafina).
“To think that little old me could have a chance to walk down the red carpet of a Hollywood production, that was surreal,” shares Chieng Mun of the moment she shared with her co-stars at the Mann Chinese Theatre.
“I’m going to turn 60 next year and I thought at my age, well, my career was over. But with the film’s success, it’s all beginning again. So, it can only get better and better from here!”
Away from the buzz of the big screen, the actress-cum-radio DJ is looking forward to a busy year-end. “I have lots of parties lined up, all the way till Chinese New Year. That’s when I will get the chance to meet up with my friends and spend a whole three months just eating,” she exclaims.
It’s natural then that Chieng Mun has a cooking show in the works for 2019. “I’ve always been interested in whipping up food for a crowd so I thought, ‘Why not do a series of videos to help people prepare for the Lunar New Year season?’” she quips.
THE JOY BLINDFOLD TEST
JOY by Dior took Amy back to her childhood with its dreamy notes: “I smell something fresh, it makes me think of nature, peace and calm. Vanilla ice-cream comes to mind. It’s something traditional, familiar and classic.”
AMY WEARS ALICE MCCALL GOWN FROM THE OUTNET; AND EARRINGS AND RING, BOTH FROM APM MONACO
"This year has been one huge, intense rollercoaster ride"
Amy Cheng 48, FLY Entertainment Artiste & Creative Director of ACT3 Theatrics
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Amy as she not only recovers from the success of the film that was on everyone’s lips this summer, but also from confronting certain truths about herself. “This year has been one huge, intense rollercoaster ride and I came out of it knowing myself better,” says Amy. “There comes a time when you’re in this industry for so long that sometimes you lose a little bit of the spark, but everything has been reset now, and I feel that I see everything with new eyes.”
The actress, who endeared herself to the public as Karen Tay in the ’90s hit TV show Growing Up, adds that the experience of being in such a huge film also made her grow by leaps and bounds as a person.
While playing the character of Jacqueline Ling, Eleanor Young’s (Michelle Yeoh) arch nemesis, also allowed her to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, it was the fans who truly held court in the actress’ heart.
“One memorable moment that stood out for me was when the cast came together to record a video for a Filipino fan of the film who was suffering from cancer. The gesture really struck me because it felt like the things we do as artists matter on that personal level,” explains the mother-of-two.
Amy aims to wrap up the year in Japan where she will be celebrating Christmas with her family. “I want to take time to just chill and be myself; drop all the baggage I’ve been holding on to for the past year, and look forward to the next one.”
Indulge in a ritual of pleasure with each spritz of JOY by Dior, an eau de parfum that has been described by its creator as “an olfactory interpretation of light”. Brought to life by perfumer Francois Demachy, this is “a fragrance that you don’t explain, you simply feel”.
ART DIRECTION: IVY CHOONG / PHOTOS: ZAPHS ZHANG / STYLING: NEO LI RONG, ASSISTED BY SHANTAL CHAN / HAIR: ASH LOI/ATELIER HAIR & BEAUTY / MAKEUP: HAN CHEW, GINGER LYNETTE & DOLLEI SEAH/MAKEUPENTOURAGE USING DIOR / LOCATION: INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL ROBERTSON QUAY