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Thu, Feb 07, 2013
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The Dream Pairing
by Charlene Chua

Together at last. But they're not even friends - at least not yet.

Local television's "princesses" Rui En and Jeanette Aw are finally starring in their first drama series together (as love rivals, no less), ending their fans' decade-long wait for the much anticipated on-screen pairing.

It's all the more significant as both actresses belong to the same management company, Hype Records, yet haven't crossed paths professionally until now.

Will there be rivalry? Or perhaps the coupling will lead to a budding friendship?

Whatever the outcome, all eyes will be on Channel 8's latest blockbuster drama, The Dream Makers, which is currently being filmed and will air in June.

Rui En, 31, told The New Paper recently: "Jeanette and I don't interact a lot. I can't say we're close."

"Even though we're signed to the same company, we rarely see each other."

"I would say we're just acquaintances. So I'm looking forward to working with her for the first time."

Said Aw, 33, in a separate interview: "I guess Rui En and I are both known loners in the industry."

"We meet when we have common events and it's always been a friendly relationship. But we don't know each other well on a personal level."

"How are she and I similar or different? Perhaps when the filming of our show is over and I get the chance to know her better, I will know just how to answer this."

Since signing up with Hype Records some 10 years ago, RuiEn and Aw have conquered Caldecott Hill and are famed for being two of the seven "MediaCorp princesses".

Even when former starlets Fiona Xie, Dawn Yeoh, Jesseca Liu and Felicia Chin were still acting full time, Rui En and Aw remained arguably the most popular, alongside Joanne Peh. So surely there has been rivalry between the two?

Said Rui En: "I think we've outgrown the whole princesses thing; it was a nice marketing tool. "The three of us (Rui En, Aw and Peh) are now doing our own thing. I don't think we need to compete or be compared to each other.

"As for Joanne, I've never had the chance to hang out with her."

Added Aw: "For me, it's always been about doing my job and delivering a good performance. So it's not just friendly competition between Rui En and myself, but with everyone else (other actors) as well.

"My closest friends are all from outside of the industry. It has always been this way."

Rui En echoed the same sentiment, and said she also refrained from making friends at work as she wanted to concentrate fully on her job.

She scampers off into her own corner during filming breaks to read her script.

"It makes sense to just work when you're working."

"My only friend in the industry is (veteran actress) Chen Liping. We get along really well, we can talk about anything, and she's someone I look up to and respect a lot."

"We met while filming (Channel 8 drama) Unriddle (in 2010) and there was just chemistry."

In The Dream Makers, Rui En plays a variety show director who has to take over hosting duties when someone else messes up.

Her character then becomes an actress when she's well-received by the audience.

In the show, she's caught in a love triangle with an actor (Qi Yuwu) and actress (Aw).

Said Rui En: "When my character meets Yuwu's character, it's love at first sight."

"Then halfway, I find out that he's actually attached to someone it becomes complicated."

She added: "It'll be nice to work with Jeanette on this as it'd be a fresh pairing."

Well, they may have more in common than they think.

New Year resolutions

When asked if they made any New Year resolutions this year, both gave uncannily similar answers.

Both don't make resolutions. And as Aw put it succinctly: "I just live in the moment and listen to what my heart says..."

If you're wondering why they have such similar perspectives on work, these principles were instilled in them by their boss.

Ken Lim, who owns Hype Records, was candid as he spoke of his two biggest assets.

He said: "I believe in the saying that it's lonely at the top. So I tell all my artistes to just concentrate on their work and not to mix with others when they are filming."

"When you interact with others at work, you will get yourselves involved in politics - what for? "Rui En and Jeanette appeal to different fans, and this is why they are both at the top of their game.

"Rui En is the one with the attitude, while Jeanette is relatable."

He added that both are finally starring in a drama together only because they have established themselves in showbiz over the years.

They are so "vastly different" in terms of their market appeal that they cannot be compared to each other any more, he said.

In the past, Lim believed that comparisons made between them would have harmed their status in the early years of their careers.

Said Lim: "The on-screen pairing has to be right. If not, it'll never work."

"This was a matter of timing; and since their fans have wanted it for the longest time, we decided to make it happen.

"I'm sure there's rivalry between all actresses, so I always tell Jeanette and Rui En to let their work speak for itself."

But even keeping to themselves hasn't protected Aw and Rui En from workplace politics, as they've encountered instances of back-stabbing.

Said Aw: "I guess there are many things that happen along the way, over the years."

"How do I deal with it? Let it go and move on. There is really no need to dwell over such (negative) things."

Added Rui En: "There will always be bad things and you'll get to hear of them. Not much of it is true, but people will say what they want to say."

"I have witnessed unprofessional actors trying to sabotage one another.

"Everyone puts up with back-stabbing and politics in the workplace every day, but I have consciously chosen not to engage."

"Jeanette and I don't interact a lot. I can't say we're close." - Rui En

"We meet when we have common events... But we don't know each other well on a personal level. - Jeanette Aw

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