updated 17 Oct 2013, 13:15
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From New Faces to New Stars
by Jocelyn Lee

They both made it to the Top 20 finals of The New Paper New Face modelling competition last year.

Now, 19-year-old Eunice Annabel Lim and 23-year-old Shine Koh are ready for their bigscreen debut, having been cast in local director Jack Neo's new movie The Lion Men.

The upcoming movie about three rival lion dance troupes will be released in two parts, with the first part scheduled for a Chinese New Year release next year and the second part opening a few months after.

The $4 million production, which started filming last week, features 21 new faces chosen from 1,300 hopefuls as well as breakout stars Tosh Zhang, Wang Weiliang and Noah Yap from Neo's hit movie Ah Boys To Men (see other report).

For Lim, scoring a movie role is the biggest highlight of her life so far.

Speaking to The New Paper, the blogshop model, who stands out with her mixed Chinese and Peranakan looks, said: "I am excited but upset at the same time.

"I am upset because I know filming will be over in a few months and I don't want it to end so quickly."

Her experience in New Face helped her a lot in her new acting career.

The 1.65m-tall beauty said: "The competition taught me to be aware of where the camera is and to look good for the camera at all times."

She added: "I am also more prepared to meet new people now, and I learnt that I have to always be punctual when going for shoots or filming, as I cannot let the entire production team wait for me."

Currently studying apparel design and merchandising at Temasek Polytechnic, Lim had deferred her school's compulsory internship so that she could film The Lion Men for the next three months.

Lim, who hopes to enter showbiz when she graduates next year, does not think her decision is too much of a sacrifice to make.

"I take opportunities as they come, and it is not often that such a huge opportunity comes," she said.

"I am still young, so I would like to try more things when I can."

In The Lion Men, Lim plays a member of lion dance troupe Storm Riders which is led by Zhang's character.

Even though her role requires her to dance, she didn't face any problems as she took hip hop and modern dance as her CCA at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh).

However, Lim admitted she was starstruck after working with Zhang, calling him a "very talented guy".

She said: "He guides us along during the training we had together, and he has a great personality. When he is present, I am motivated to perform better."

Lim has been in a two-year relationship with her part-time club DJ boyfriend Fai, 24, and is glad that he is supportive of what she does.

She said: "He never complains about my long working hours as he is in a similar industry, so he understands how it is like. Instead, he always inspires me to keep going."

Familiar face on set

As for fellow New Face alumnus Koh, being able to act with Lim in the same movie makes her feel more comfortable as there is a familiar face on set.

The Nanyang Technological University accountancy graduate-turned-freelance actress had supporting roles in Channel 8 dramas It Takes Two last year and The Recruit Diaries this year.

She realised that she enjoys being in front of the camera after joining New Face.

Koh, who stands at 1.68m, had previously turned down a job offer from Deloitte - one of the big four accounting firms - to pursue her acting dream.

She said: "(New Face) helped boost my confidence and also helped me correct my walking posture as I used to hunch quite a bit. I learnt how to maintain my composure in front of the camera as well."

She added: "It is great to see Eunice here. We hung out together when learning the dance routines on set.

"This feels like another New Face competition, but on a different platform."

Even though she is not new to acting, Koh feels that moving from the small to big screen is a huge transition as the filming process is more intensive.

The biggest challenge Koh faced for The Lion Men is perfecting the dance routines for her role as a lion dance troupe member as she does not have any dance background.

She said: "I am slower compared to some of the new actors, so I would usually record the entire dance choreography down and practise it on my own at home."

On casting the two aspiring starlets, Neo, 57, said: "I see a lot of potential in Eunice. She is very pretty, and is also a famous blogger. She is an all-rounder."

He added: "I chose Koh because she can sing and dance and had some acting experience before. "I am quite impressed with the number of talented people in Singapore after watching the auditions."

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