updated 21 Jun 2013, 11:19
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Fri, May 10, 2013
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'It's not about being skinny'
by Catherine Robert

As unfair and superficial as it seems, one obvious but unwritten rule of showbiz is that image is important.

We're not talking fancy body-hugging clothes, six-inch Jimmy Choo footwear and a Prada bag to seal the deal.

It's that incredible bikini body that almost every television or theatre actress needs to have.

One person that stepped far away from that requirement was Fly Entertainment artiste Nikki Muller, who will star in local playwright Michael Chiang's upcoming play, High Class.

Before being signed by the artist management company, the 27-year-old Swiss-Filipino actress lived in New York where she worked at a non-creative nine-to-five day job.

She struggled with emotional eating before she moved to Singapore two years ago.

At her heaviest, she was 84.5kg.

"I even missed the fireworks on the fourth of July (America's Independence Day).

"I lived in an apartment in a beautiful tall building, and the reason I missed it was because I couldn't climb up the stairs to get to the top," Muller recalled.

Although she declined to elaborate, Muller said a break-up in 2007 also contributed to her weight gain.

She said: "I just started eating and eating, when I was angry or sad or even when I was happy, I just ate a lot.

"I used to be the kind of person who instead of feeling sad or angry during a low point, would just shut it off and move on, and it was back to business as usual."

As time went on, Muller realised one of the things she had to do was to leave her desk job to improve her life.

She eventually decided to quit her job and signed up for a fitness and wellness camp at The Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu.

She moved to Singapore after deciding the media industry in Asia was where she wanted to be.

She knocked on doors at every talent management agency before she got her big break when Channel 5 hired her for a lead role in the local comedy Payday.

In High Class, which revolves around women living the "tai tai" life in modern-day Singapore, Mul- ler plays a "tai tai" who divorced Singapore's richest property tycoon, played by Andrew Lua.

Lua played Lieutenant Heng in last year's staging of Army Daze. Shane Mardjuki plays a hairdresser who is the best friend of Muller's character.

The play opens on July 5 at the Drama Centre at the National Library.

Having lost the weight within a year and a half and currently weighing 55kg, Muller has broken into the television hosting industry and appeared on the cover of Shape magazine in February.

She has also landed her first lead role for an upcoming stage play.

Weight loss, change in industry While the weight loss and the change in industry has given her confidence, Muller said she is determined to stick to a healthy outlook on being trim and fit.

Muller said: "I like body shape, and to me being stick thin is not very attractive and the numbers on the scale are not very important as long as I feel good."

Said Muller: "For me, it wasn't about being skinny because it was more about being strong. "I know I have hips and it will always be there, and I have no problem with that at all, as long as I can recognise myself.

Her co-star, Lua, agreed that performers - male or female - will always have to grapple with the issue of image and fitness.

"It's not just for women, it's the same for guys," he said.

"For theatre, it is important to be fit; not just to look a certain way on stage or fit the role. "When it comes to plays, you need to run off stage, run on stage, you need to do dance numbers.

So, for you to last the entire production, it is important for anyone involved to be fit."

Added Muller: "If you put me in any audition, I'm probably not going to be the skinniest and I really don't care."

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