updated 8 Jul 2013, 18:14
Login password
Tue, Aug 14, 2012
The New Paper
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Star of Jay Chou's music videos: "He's like a child"
by Maureen Koh

She has captured the imagination of people here.

Wherever she goes, people recognise her and ask for her autograph or a photo with her.

The irony is, she isn't even in the competition for fame or stardom.

Erica Song Jones, 25, was actually brought into Sunsilk Academy Fantasia reality show and competition as a dance instructor for the contestants of the reality show.

The StarHub production features the finalists living under the same roof, and there is 24-hour surveillance of them by hidden cameras.

Each week, the 14 star wannabes attend singing and dancing lessons before the lead-up to an elimination round every Sunday morning.

Jones, whose father is Irish-American and whose mother is Taiwanese, is the instructor who heats up the dance studio -and screen - every time she walks in.

Blank stares from the contestants elicit harsh responses from her: "Hello! Am I talking to zombies?"

She admits that she was freaked out initially.

She was watching the contestants on stage before she was even formally introduced to them.

Jones says: "At first, I wasn't sure what to expect. But when I saw their performance, I was like, this will not be a real dance lesson. These people are not dancers, no way."

She adds: "I made notes against the profiles that had been handed to me, and trust me, I sweated.

"The first lesson was a nightmare. I had to constantly remind myself that, no, they are not dancers."

She does not mince her words.

And that is because she knows how tough it is for an artist to succeed.

Jones says: "It takes a lot of hard work... you can enjoy what you are doing, but if you want to be known, you must also be willing to put in the effort.

"You must have the passion. You must have the drive."

When Jones is not teaching here, she is in Taiwan working out dance moves with pop superstar Jay Chou.

It is a role she landed by chance three years ago.

"I knew who Jay Chou was, but I wasn't really familiar with his songs," she recounts.

"But every time there was an audition in town, I'd go because it feeds me. And my passion."

She first met Chou when she was asked to return to his company for a second audition.

"Someone from his office called and said the director wanted to meet me. I didn't know that Jay was the director they were talking about."

Jones found out when she reached the office.

"I was surprised. And because I didn't know anyone else, I was terrified. All the time I kept wondering, what am I doing here?" she recalls.

Which turned her into a ball of bad nerves.

"He was asking me questions, and here I was, giving him one-word replies, yes, no, no, yes. It's a wonder I got hired," she says.

Jones has since earned herself a lead role in Chou's music videos and a spot beside him at the superstar's concert tours.

She says: "Jay's an amazing boss who's so talented that you don't stop learning from him. He can be looking at something really innocuous and the next thing you know, he'd have an element added in his music video."

Jones also admires how hard the man works.

"He doesn't stop working and it doesn't just have to be writing songs, producing music or performing," she says.

"He'd spend hours watching other music videos or anything that he feels can inspire (him)."

Chou is also a generous and caring boss.

Jones says: "He doesn't stinge. And most importantly, even as we're working, he'd make sure that we have been fed on time.

"When we tour, he also sees to it every member of the entourage are taken care of in every aspect."

Any chance of them developing a relationship?

She laughs, then says: "No... I really don't think so. As a friend, he's like a child.

"Everything about him can be so child-like when he's not in the boss mode."

Jones adds: "When he's in the play mode, he expects you to put everything down and play with him. But when we have to go, let's get down to work.

And she is bringing that work-and-play ethic to the reality show.

The challenge of turning stiff bones into graceful twirling dancers attracted the never-say-die instructor.

"If you lower the bar of expectation, put them through the grind and work them really hard, I was confident that I could pull a couple of good movers from the group."

Jones, who started learning ballet when she was five, admits that dancing was good therapy for her when things didn't quite go right in her life.

Her parents divorced when she was young and her mother remarried soon after.

She says: "I had plenty of issues at home. Plenty. When I was young, I didn't understand it then, but now, I think I wasn't ready to accept a stepdad.

"I had issues. And I'm sure he had a hard time with me too. In the end, Mum had to send me away."

Jones adds: "And I was happy to be sent off back to Colorado (in the US). I was happy that I didn't have to deal with a stepdad.

"When you're young, life's like an adventure."

And that was when she picked up different performing arts - dancing, music, acting.

"I did everything."

Jones moved back to Taiwan in 2004 after she realised the importance of family ties.

She says: "I think that kind of thoughts come only with age."

About four years ago, Jones had also been all ready to settle down.

She says: "I got engaged (to a Taiwanese) and we were going to get married.

"Yeah, I was that young.

"I thought then that I'd be a teacher. That I'd be happy and lead a simple life."

Jones reveals: "He comes from a conservative, traditional family. They were just different. And couldn't accept this dreamy performer."

She adds: "I'm the kind who will get up and breathe in the morning air, then think, 'Oh, what do I want to do today?'

"I can feel the trees or the flowers talking to me. To his parents, that was being frivolous."

Jones decided in the end that she wanted out.

"When you are young, you think love will overcome everything. You give up parts of yourself to be with someone... I did that," she says.

"Then I realised that no, I was unhappy."

Her ex-fiance later got married.

"When he first told me, I was devastated. I thought we had something special. So it was sad to hear he had moved on and found someone whenI had yet to."

Jones adds: "Oh, did I say, he just became a daddy to a baby girl recently."

So is there a chance for someone here to win her heart? After all, fans do gush about how hot and cute she is.

Mr Leslie Ho, 30, tunes in to the show just to catch her. And he has watched all the music videos that star her even though he is not a fan of Chou.

The IT engineer says: "I'd love to meet her in person one day."

Get The New Paper for more stories.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.