updated 10 Mar 2011, 11:20
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Wed, Dec 23, 2009
The New Paper
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'I want to show what I've got'
by Gan Ling Kai

JULIE Tan has much to be thankful for this Christmas.

The 17-year-old Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) student clinched the runner-up position at The New Paper New Face finals in October.

And before the year is out, her lucky star shines bright again.

This time, she will be starring in the heart-rending Channel U telemovie The Promise, which will air on 27 Dec at 9.30pm.

She plays the lead role of Shanshan, an intellectually challenged 17-year-old with the IQ of a 10-year-old who falls in love with a sentimental dude (Malaysian freelance actor Lawrence Wong).

It’s a huge break for Julie, who’s a first-year Chinese theatre student.

And even before she graduates in two years’ time, a few artiste management agencies have come knocking on her door to negotiate contracts, she told The New Paper last week.

But she declined to name these companies because “it hasn’t been confirmed”.

Yet, what’s certain to her is how the annual New Face modelling contest catapulted her into showbiz.

Said Julie: “The competition built my confidence on the stage.

“I used to feel weird being watched on the runway, but now I think it’s fun to show what you’ve got.”

That experience boosted her presentation skills during filming, and she believes that the New Face title has glammed up her resume.

“I think producers and directors will now take more notice of me.”

Her meaty part in The Promise was confirmed during the preliminary stage of the contest.

Its director, Ong Kuo Sin, 35, said: “I chose a less experienced actress like Julie as the lead so that the audience will focus on the storyline and character instead of the artiste.”

Added the freelance director who has also overseen other local TV productions such as Parental Guidance and Sayang Sayang: “She’s an intelligent girl who can get into her character quickly.”

Taking on roles that deal with emotional struggles seems to be Julie’s forte.

She’s now in a supporting role as a prostitute in the Channel 8 drama New Beginnings, which is in production.

Her debut TV appearance last year in the local docu-drama series My World My Blog was also based on a doleful character.

In one of the episodes, she played a suicidal girl suffering from depression, who cut herself on her forearm out of frustration with life.

She got that role after an audition arranged by the Lee Wei Song School Of Music, where she attended a two-year singing-cum-dancing course.

Yet, she isn’t worried about being typecast so early in her career.

“Learning how to handle these roles will strengthen my foundation in acting.

“It’s through acting that I get to experience the lives of others,” said the vivacious teenager who has taken the road less travelled in real life.

From the age of 3 till she was 12, Julie learnt Chinese folk dance at Dance Ensemble Singapore.

She had to tackle strenuous moves such as the split and somersaults.

“Doing the split was so painful that I cried,” Julie said.

And her parents imposed a strict diet regime on little Julie – no fast food or soft drinks.

Recalled the 1.7m tall, 52kg lass: “My parents wanted to train my discipline and to upkeep my fitness and looks.

“When I first tasted French fries at the age of 9, it was heavenly.”

She said she eats whatever she wants now.

“Just no oily food,” she told us between sips of tea (without sugar, of course).

Is Julie upset then with the tough training imposed by her parents – a businessman in his 50s and a housewife in her 40s?

“At first I was angry with them,” she admitted.

But at the age of 5, she started to enjoy dancing.

She eventually picked up ballet and hip-hop as well, so she’s thankful her parents jump-started their only child’s passion in dancing.

“Dancing improves my movements and postures on stage.

With an N-level result of six points, Julie could have pursued her O Levels.

Instead, she enrolled in Nafa, much to the frustration of her dad.

But Julie’s parents accepted her choice eventually and her mum even chauffeurs her to her film set these days.

With so much on her plate, does Julie have time to date?

She does, perhaps.

After all, both Julie and The Promise co-star Lawrence revealed to us in separate interviews that they meet up for meals two to three times a week – sometimes with Julie’s mum in tow.

“We are just close friends,” both of them said, equally hesitantly.


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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