At work, actress Carla Dunareanu has to assume different personalities, but when it comes to her own life, this tough chick is crystal clear about what she wants. She tells ESTHER AU YONG why bullies don’t stand a chance.
She’s part Romanian and part Chinese. Born in Germany, by the time she’d turned eight, she had lived in Australia and then settled in Singapore. In Germany, kids tried to bully her because she looked too Asian. In Australia, schoolmates ridiculed her for having a German accent. Here in Singapore, her exotic Pan-Asian heritage gets her labelled an outsider or “ang moh”. But while others might be confused about model-emcee-actress Carla Dunareanu’s multihyphenate life, the 27-yearold is dead clear about what she wants: to be great at a job she loves. And that includes her role in Rojak, a sitcom premiering on Mediacorp’s Channel 5 next month. It is one of the most challenging roles in her life, says Carla in a candid interview on the sidelines of her Shape cover shoot.
“I play an American who shares a fl at with three other single professionals. She’s into health foods and natural healing, and is a quiet girl who just wants to keep the peace,” she explains. “Besides the American accent, I had to work extra hard to understand and portray my character as I’m not the quiet sort at all!” According to Carla, she was a terror during her school days. “I just had to be tough because I didn’t want to be bullied. My sister, who was actually much quieter, was constantly bullied. The boys would walk by her as she stood in front of her locker and slam her on the door,” says Carla, whose father passed away when she was six years old. “Me? If someone even called me names behind my back, I’d go up to them and say ‘What did you just say? Say it to my face!’”
“I might be small-built but I’m fierce. I used my fists quite a bit in school,” she adds with a laugh. “So, playing this character was not only very challenging, but rewarding as well. I had to dig deep to access fragile emotions I’d buried a long time ago.” Her steely resolve and focus certainly helped, as did her vast experience in acting. The Lasalle College of the Arts graduate scored her first professional acting job at age 11. “I used to get pregnant teenager roles a lot. I used to feel there was stereotyping at play. You know, Western girl with loose morals that sort of thing. But I’ve proven to be a versatile actress with depth. These days, I’m getting more challenging and serious roles, which I’m loving!”
LOOKING AFTER HERSELF
Carla, who also hosts the adventure travel series Missadventures on Mediacorp’s Okto, believes that working out regularly is an integral part of her career. “My schedule is crazy. Some days, I can have up to five meetings, shoots and appointments. If I’m not at my best physically, I can fall sick easily or just not be in top form. That is not being responsible to my colleagues at all,” she says. “I work out to feel good and to keep fi t and healthy.” Despite her busy schedule, Carla makes time for exercise, even if it’s for 15 minutes. “I usually use the Nike+ Training Club app. It has over 100 workouts, mainly based on high intensity interval training (HIIT) for diff erent fi tness levels and durations,” says Carla, who is sponsored by Nike. “Plus, this year, I’ve set myself a target. I want to complete my first-ever 21km race. I’ve never really been a runner, and am a total noob at long-distance running, but why not?” With your focus and get-things-done attitude, we know you’ll ace it, Carla!