Joi Chua plays Xia Fei Fei, the strict "summon auntie".
Famous Singaporean pop singer Joi Chua recently made her acting debut in the Singaporean musical-comedy film "3688" as a strict parking attendant named Xia Fei Fei, who dreams of becoming a singer like her idol, Feng Fei-fei, the famous Taiwanese singer often referred to as the "Queen of Hats".
When Fei Fei's father is diagnosed with dementia, she decides to join the National Singing Competition in order to cover her father's expensive medical expenses.
Directed by Roystan Tan, the film also stars Michael Tan, Liu Ling Ling, Shigga Shay, Rahimah Rahim and Brandon Wong.
This being her first time in acting, Joi Chua reveals her feelings and experience to Cinema Online about her involvement in the film.
How was it like when you first approached for this role?
It was unexpected, because I never acted before. At first I thought the director was joking, I seriously would have never expected to be given this kind of chance.
Since you never acted before, how did you prepare for your role?
I read the script quite a few times and I also requested the director to put me in an acting workshop, because I have no experience or background in acting, I felt uneasy. So, I asked the director to let me take a few acting classes, and they really helped me a lot, they helped me understand better about my role in the film.
How familiar are you with Fang Fei-fei's songs?
Actually I know quite a number of her songs because I listened to them a lot when I was young, for example "When I Hear Applause" (掌声响起) or "Qiao Qiao Men" (敲敲門). I think her songs are quite memorable and I think they will always remain as evergreen songs. So I guess I am pretty familiar with them.
You have been singing for so long, what made you decide to debut as an actress?
I actually never thought of becoming an actress, it was because the director approached me and told me that he felt the character suited me. So after I read the script, I also felt the character Xia Fei Fei resonated with me – it gave me a realistic feeling. So after discussing with the director, I decided to try it out, how it feels like to act [laughs].
Joi chua sings some of Feng Fei-fei most iconic songs in the film.
Do you feel pressured acting with so many experienced actors?
Not at all, because they are all so kind to me and they are all like a family to me. I have no worries or pressures, the director gave me a lot of space for me to develop my character. He never ordered me around, he gave me a huge space to grow and expand my character.
Sometimes I even wonder "Is this the right way to do it?" But he's okay with it, so I guess I am doing it the right way. There's really no pressure at all, I was given an ample amount of space to immerse into my role. So, I'm really thankful to him.
What is the biggest challenge you faced while acting in the film?
I guess there're a few scenes in the film which got me nervous. When I read the script, it got me all pressured up. Like the scene where I need to be super joyful, or the scene where I have to scold people. So I find difficulties in those scenes because I need to be extra excited or super agitated [laughs].
One of the stills in "3688"
The film competed in the Busan Film Festival, how does that make you feel?
I feel that it's a pity that I can't go. I'm proud that the film is selected to compete at Busan and I am looking forward to the reactions and feelings from the audiences at Busan.
Do you feel pressured singing Feng Feifei's songs on the film?
Not really. Because in the film, I didn't act as Feng Fei-fei, I played as one of her fans, so I sang the song according to my own styles. But at the same time when I sang the songs, I realised that her songs are not easy to sing. So, this is a good challenge for me.
Which is harder, singing or acting?
[Laughs] I never thought about it actually, because in this film, the director gave me a great space. I really enjoyed singing, but that's because I've been singing for quite some time. I think both of them are fine, each of them has its own fun and challenges.
Joi Chua has been in the music industry for more than 10 years. (Photo source: yimg.com)
So, do you prefer singing or acting?
It's hard to say because I've been singing for more than 10 years and only acted for a few months, so I can't really compare [laughs].
But if you really want me to choose one, of course I would say singing.
Will you continue acting in more films in the future?
If there are any roles that interest or suit me, I will accept them with open arms.
What's next for you?
I am currently working on a new EP. It would probably be released by end of this year, hopefully, if all goes well.
What is your expectation for the movie at the Malaysian box office?
I'm not sure, I don't know if the Malaysians would like it or not. Of course I hope that it will be well-received among the Malaysians, but it's been so long since I've been there, so I don't know what the audiences would expect of our films.
I do hope that everyone would come to enjoy this film.
Cinema Online, 15 October 2015