updated 23 Jun 2013, 17:36
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Sun, Jan 20, 2013
The Straits Times Urban
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NMP days were best 41/2 years of my life: Eunice Olsen
by Joyce Chua

Ms Eunice Olsen, 35, Miss Universe Singapore 2000

Current job titles: Actress and film producer at House of Ou Studios, a company she set up last year.

What have you been focusing on since the pageant?

I wanted to take some time off initially, so I started playing the piano at hotels seven days a week and gave piano lessons as well. Because of the shorter hours, I had time to focus on my work with at-risk youth at the Singapore Girls' Home, which was formerly known as the Toa Payoh Girls' Home.

In 2002, I was cast as the local equivalent of Vanna White in Channel 5's version of Wheel Of Fortune. That was the start of my career as a television host and I went on to host other programmes, such as Rouge on Channel 5 and The Duke on AXN.

I went to Seoul in 2004 to record a bossa nova album, but came back in 2005 to be a Nominated Minister of Parliament (NMP) for two terms.

Those were the best 4-1/2 years of my life. I learnt a lot and met many amazing and inspiring people who taught me about the issues on the ground.

After my term in office ended in 2009, I went back to acting and attended the New York Film Academy, an acting school in Los Angeles.

In 2010, I produced and acted in a short film there called Reflections, which can be viewed on www.myfilmrocks. com.

I came back in 2010 and acted in a few shows last year, such as the English drama Red Thread on Channel 5, as well as three feature films. The first one, Ghost On Air, was released in May last year.

The other two, Red Numbers and 3.50, are scheduled for release this year.

3.50 was completed just a few weeks ago and is currently at the post-production stage. It is the first co-production between Singapore and Cambodia and I am co-producing and acting in it. It is centered around the topic of sex trafficking.

Last year, I started House Of Ou Studios, an independent TV and film production company, and have been producing my own content, most of which is slated for release this year. I will reveal more details in a couple of months.

How has winning the pageant helped you?

The pageant opened doors but, like anything else, which path a person takes from then on is up to her.

Nothing was ever just handed to me. I've had to work really hard at improving my craft, both as an actor and a host.

I believe you have to make things happen and not just wait for things to fall into your lap.

Having said that, no one ever achieves anything alone. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive family who is always behind me and friends who believe in me.

Also, I have had the privilege to meet and work with many wonderful people along the way.

What is one common misconception people have of beauty queens?

The most common one is that beauty queens are selected only for their looks and that it is just a parade of women.

Beauty pageants have different criteria and contestants need to be well-rounded. They have to be familiar with world issues, be articulate and eloquent and carry themselves with confidence. Also, it is a great platform to raise awareness on different issues.

When I first became an NMP, some members of the public greeted the news with surprise and doubt.

All you can do is focus, work hard, stay true to your goals and do the best you can. I believe that one's work will speak for itself.

What would you like to see changed about Miss Universe Singapore?

It was at the Miss Universe 2000 pageant that I realised most of the other contestants were returning to their countries to be ambassadors of various causes so that their titles could be used to support something bigger.

I didn't have that sort of direction then. When I returned from the pageant, my father, who was working for the United States Ambassador to Singapore at that time, put me in touch with the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and they, in turn, put me in touch with the Toa Payoh Girls' Home. That started me on a journey of volunteerism which changed my life.

But this was not guided or directed by the Miss Singapore Universe pageant. There should be a very clear direction on what the role of the winner is.

As she is a representative of Singapore on this world platform, the title should represent something bigger than the woman herself.

How do people view your beauty queen past?

I think different people associate me with different labels. While some people know me as Miss Universe Singapore 2000,

I have also had friends who, when they saw the trophy at my house, asked in surprise: "Did you take part in Miss Universe Singapore?"

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