updated 2 Jan 2012, 07:32
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Mon, Jan 02, 2012
The New Paper
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Replacement princess?
by Kwok Kar Peng

SHE took over Fiona Xie’s role at the last minute in the new Chinese drama Together.

And now, Eelyn Kok is tipped to replace Fiona as one of Caldecott Hill’s seven princesses.

Crowned as such by the media in 2007, the seven actresses are Fiona, Jeanette Aw, Joanne Peh, Felicia Chin, Jesseca Liu, Rui En and Dawn Yeoh. Eelyn, 31, confessed to The New Paper: “I wanted to be a princess initially.

“When everyone regards you as a princess, it means that you are already in the league and will get more work. I didn’t have much work at that time.

“It’ll be good if I can be a princess, but honing my acting skills is still my first goal.”

Eelyn is best remembered for playing scheming characters in dramas like Kinship and The Little Nyonya.

Her hope to enter showbiz royalty doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

There has been speculation among industry insiders recently that MediaCorp is ready to groom and “bump up” Eelyn, who has eight years of acting experience under her belt.

Fiona’s sudden and unprecedented withdrawal from the drama in July at the eleventh hour has cast doubts on her professionalism.

But Eelyn feels that fans of the princesses wouldn’t take kindly to anyone being replaced, and joked that she prefers to be known as “the eighth wonder” instead.

But one thing the actress may need to work on is her publicity skills.

When asked if she would put herself in the limelight by sharing controversial information with reporters, her eyes widened in shock.

“Do people do that? I’ve never thought about it before,” she said.

“I’m not the type who takes the initiative.” The mild-mannered and easy-going starlet admitted that if she’s one of the princesses, she would be the mature and stable one.

Focus on acting

What about asking her managers to let her attend launches of designer boutiques? After all, those are the right places to be seen at.

Eelyn replied that she would leave it to the company to decide if she should attend such events as her priority was still to work on her craft.

“Right from the start, my intention was to get the audience’s attention through my acting,” she said.

“I only wanted to act and not to be a very popular actress. But one must be popular to be able to continue acting. I know keeping a low profile is a disadvantage, but my character is like that.”

How does she feel about being the “second choice”, tipped to take over Fiona’s tiara only after Fiona opted out of the drama?

Eelyn replied: “I was bothered initially. I even had an image of Fiona in my mind when I went through my script, like how she would appear in the scene.

“But I figured it shouldn’t bother me because it would hinder my concentration. The company had their reasons for casting Fiona in the role first. “As for being a princess, it’s good if I am one, but it’s okay if I’m not too.”

But Eelyn has already impressed several industry watchers. Entertainment journalists Mervin Tay from My Paper and U Weekly’s Lee Siew Wen both agree she’s qualified to hold her own as one of the seven princesses.

Mr Tay said: “She started off with supporting roles, playing baddies before winning lead roles.

“Her work has been pretty good and her performance in this latest drama will be a test for her. If she does well, she can definitely replace Fiona.”

Miss Lee said that although Eelyn is a good candidate to replace one of the princesses, it may not necessarily be Fiona.

She said: “Dawn’s performances have been passable but not outstanding. However, she’s the youngest of the seven, which means she can be groomed further.

“Jesseca could also be dropped because her popularity has dipped. Her recent works have been only so-so, maybe because MediaCorp hasn’t got a drama to showcase her.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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