SINGAPORE: Irene Ang is a woman in the business of talent – from showing off her own, as an actress, comedienne and film-producer – to promoting others, in her role as CEO of talent management agency, FLY Entertainment.
She started off in the entertainment industry as a stuntwoman for Channel 8 dramas. Her career flourished, and the next step was setting up FLY Entertainment, where her goal was to do better for local artistes.
The headlines that she’s made in the professional life have also come with the spotlight on her personal life. Her difficult childhood with a gambler father and drug addict mother, she says, has strengthened her resilience and resolve.
She went “On the Record” with Bharati Jagdish about her life before she joined the entertainment industry, why she turned down an opportunity to further a very promising sporting career, and the struggles Asian talents continue to face. They spoke first about her experience with suicide and forgiveness.
Irene Ang: The drive of turning all these negative things into something positive or making something of myself started in my 20s. But right after I started FLY and once FLY stabilised, I was very thankful that someone like me can actually build a business without a degree or with no formal training in running a business. I surprised myself that after 10 years, my business was still around. It didn’t disappear. I did quite a fair bit of reflection and I decided that it was these hardships and these situations that gave me this resilient nature or this sense of perseverance, and I think it’s a good thing.
I want to share it with people. So I decided to come clean and be open just a few years ago. So in my talks I started talking about my childhood, and I feel that the more I talk about it, the more I’m letting go of the pain. And also, it was really nice when people wrote to me, in private messages on Facebook to say my story inspired them.
I did an interview with Class 95 some time ago. A year later a boy came running to me at Zouk and said, “I wanted to kill myself. I heard your radio interview and I stopped.” Young people sometimes have so many aspirations and so much confidence and when they fail, they can’t accept the failure and they just think that that’s the end of their life. But it’s not.
ENDING IT ALL?
Bharati: But you felt that way at some point didn’t you?
Ang: A couple of times. But you see, looking back at my suicide attempts, even that was funny. Because I’m so bad at it that I finally decided that living is easier. It was like, “Irene, how much of a loser can you be? You can’t even kill yourself. Then forget it.”
Bharati: How old were you when you attempted suicide?
Ang: There were several points, milestone points in my life. One was when my parents divorced and I was doing badly in school, in secondary school and I failed and had to stay behind in Sec 3. I had never failed before. That was the first blow. My dad said, “I never expected you to fail. Your brother, I expected. Now, you’re just like your brother.”
That really hurt.
And I always prided myself as being daddy’s girl and when he said that, I just felt like nobody loved me anymore. My mother was all about my brother. My dad used to pay attention to me and make me feel special. But when he said that I felt I was no longer special to him.
At that time, I was staying in my grandmother’s house. It was a three-room flat and there was a carpark right behind. In the old HBD flats, right outside the kitchen window, they have these bamboo poles for hanging clothes. So after everybody went to sleep, at about 11pm, I was just looking down and across. There was a school across us and there was a canal, the Queenstown Commonwealth canal.
And I was just really feeding myself with all these negative thoughts, trying to find reasons to live. Everyone was sleeping and I thought I should just jump down. But then, there were many objections that I raised to myself.
First it was, “What if I hit my neighbour’s clothes? That neighbour, I quite like.” I didn’t want to spoil their clothes. Then looking at the car park, I thought, “Whose car is that? What if I dent the car? Will my family be able to afford to pay?”
And then I remembered a couple of years before that, someone jumped down from my flat and people described how her hand got stuck on the tree. So I had to think about where to aim to land properly and in one piece. Then I thought that maybe I should go to the front of the house and jump from there. So I went there and looked down and there was a playground there. If I die there, my blood will go into the sand and scare the kids.
Bharati: So did you even try?
Ang: I did. Eventually I plucked up the courage at about 5am. I put one leg over the ledge. I tried about 3 times, but I just couldn’t find the right spot to jump. Then I thought it’s been so many hours and I still can’t jump. Dying was so hard.
The next time I thought about it was after my first breakup during “A” Levels. I didn’t know why my first love broke up with me and I didn’t know what I did wrong. In our home, we had a little bar.
I had never drunk alcohol in my life at that point. But I had watched a lot of Channel 8 dramas and they always drank when things were bad. I remembered trying to drown myself and kill myself with drinking because that was what I saw on TV.
Actually, this is something I’ve never shared with anyone in any interview. So I went to the bar and started drinking. It was horrible. I drank a cup of it and it just felt like medicine and I didn’t feel high. I was just feeling flushed and hot. Then I remembered that on TV they put ice in it. So I tried another one with ice. It takes a while for the alcohol to kick in, but I didn’t know that. I thought, “the TV lied to me. There’s no effect.”
So I poured and poured, and before I knew it, I finished half a bottle of Martell.
Bharati: And you were done, I’m sure.
Ang: Of course I knocked out. I thought I died. But then I woke up in the morning I was like, “What happened?” Somehow, I had managed to go back to my room.
Bharati: There was one more attempt.
Ang: The third time was when my granny was about to pass away and she was the most important person who brought me up and loved me. Also, I was really depressed because I wasn’t doing well at work. I owed money on my credit cards. Nothing was going right in my life. I was in my early 20s then. My friend drove me to the beach and everything was very “emo”. We were drinking.
Last time, you can buy beer even after 10pm. So I think the government’s ruling of not selling alcohol after 10:30pm is a fantastic idea because people come up with strange ideas after 10:30pm.
My friend and I sat on the breakwater at the beach and we talked. But then he went to the toilet and I was left alone for about 5 minutes. I had a horrible thought: My granny’s going to die. I might as well join her. I jumped from the breakwater and ended up hitting the rocks just under the water. I had a cut on my forehead. My friend came back and started laughing. He said, “You’re a swimmer. How can you jump into the sea to kill yourself?”
EVERY PROBLEM HAS A SOLUTION
Bharati: Since then though, have you ever thought about suicide?
Ang: Never again.
Bharati: Why? What changed?
Ang: First of all, I learnt that killing yourself is not easy. Also, I talk to myself a lot. I do a lot of reflection. In the night before I sleep, or when I go on holiday, if I’m in a plane, I’ll take a paper and pen and write, “Recently, this happened. What lessons can I take away from it?”
And somehow it’s like there’s a virus or juice in me that will manage to make whatever it is funny.
I think that anyone who attempts suicide does it because they think that there’s no solution, there’s no hope, that it’s the end of the world. I looked back on my life and in spite of difficulties, it was never the end of the world. Always, a solution would come if I thought about it.
And that’s why now, I have swung to the other extreme. People say, “Don’t tell Irene it cannot be done. To her, everything has a solution.”
People don’t solve things because they don’t share their problems with people. They don’t have someone they trust, or they’re afraid people laugh at them. They worry about their ego so they don’t know how to find the correct answer. So for example, a friend of mine went into huge debt because her boyfriend busted the credit card and left, and she was left with a few hundred thousand dollars worth of credit card bills.
She’s a professional woman, a client of mine. She faced it by going to the credit card company and explaining what happened and she cut a deal with them to work out a repayment plan. So that’s smart. But most people will just say, “I didn’t spend the money. Why should I pay for him?” And then they run away or they kill themselves. But this friend of mine taught me to just face it. It took her 5 years to pay the debt. The lesson is always ask and talk to people who know things. Don’t talk to negative people.
Bharati: That’s your outlook on life today, but over the years, as a child, did you ever feel any fear considering all the things that you went through? You even talked about how your mother brought you to a drug den and once tried to leave you at a girls’ home.
Ang: Actually I don’t really remember if I felt fear then. I think there was more fear of whether I could go to school or would anybody know about my family life. So all through primary school, I kept my family life a secret. I made up stories about going on holiday to Disneyland just like the rest of the kids. I had an adequately average lifestyle in the sense that my aunties and uncles bought me Enid Blyton books and board games. I watched some movies because my dad brought me, or my uncles and aunties brought me to the movies.
All I know is that growing up, my biggest fear was really the death of my grandmother. What will happen if she dies? Because she’s the only one who really loved me and she’s the only one whom I genuinely care about.
My aunties and uncles were very nice people but my grandmother was always there for me. Very stable. She had enormous kindness. If there was a Chinese Mother Teresa, it would be her. She sacrificed for the family and brought up 9 children and 4 grandchildren. She had an enormous ability to forgive whatever my father or some of her children did.
Bharati: You said once that you wanted to write a book about her.
Ang: Yes, I started writing a book, but then I decided I would write about me first because the publishers felt that people wanted to learn how I deal with life and business. They found that more useful. My grandmother’s book will be a huge project because it’s about trying to find the essence of what she meant to me and what she taught me, and translate it into a book for readers who don’t know her or care about her. So it has to be a novel in order to be compelling. I’m halfway through my book. My granny’s book is my life goal. I might also make a film about her.
COMING TO TERMS WITH FORGIVENESS
Bharati: You mentioned earlier how forgiving your grandmother was. Your mother was a drug addict and your dad, a gambler. You said that you were angry with them for not being there for you, but you eventually forgave them.
Ang: With much struggle.
Bharati: Your dad now works as a driver and your mother, a cook. Both of them work for you in your businesses. What made you forgive them?
Ang: I did a lot of reflection. One day, I looked at them and realised they’re really old now. If I don’t forgive them, when they die, I’m going to regret it and I’m going to hold on to this for the rest of my life.
I could forgive my staff. I could forgive friends who betrayed me if they were sorry. But I just found it so hard to forgive my parents because the hurt was so deep. Some of the things that I told them to their faces when I grew up, they said they don’t remember. But as a child when you suffer those things, you remember. You remember every moment. You remember the words. I remember when my mum refused to let me have my medicine because it was mixed with her drugs and I didn’t know which ones were hers, and which ones were my fever pills. When I asked her, I got slapped for it. I remember that. But when I told her, she said she didn’t remember. She said I was making up stories.
I remember her wanting to jump down because my father came home smelling of perfume. She thought he was having an affair and they quarrelled. He left the house immediately after that. She wanted to jump off the block and I was holding on to her and calling the police at the same time. She doesn’t remember all that because she was high on drugs. But I remembered because I was in primary one or primary two and you remember these things.
It was just frustrating. They were never there but they talk a lot about being there for me. How they brought me to Haw Par Villa, etc. It’s very funny. They remember the good things, but I remembered all the pain. So I told myself that I can’t go on living like that. If I hold on to all these things and the bitterness, it would just continue weighing me down. The last thing I want is to be bitter and to be angry and to not be able to be a positive change in this world. I want to be a positive change to people around me.
Bharati: What is it like having your parents work for you?
Ang: I’m very proud to say they have stayed in these jobs longer than any other jobs they’ve had. Everyone thought it was going to fail. But actually this is one of my achievements in life – helping my parents get and hold down jobs in my business. I’m very proud of them.
Bharati: No challenges?
Ang: My father is impatient and had a temper. As the driver, he sometimes has to wait and he will sometimes scream at the staff. Then I have to sit him down and counsel him like a boss would. So managing him was a challenge, but we eventually got past that. So now we have a very good working relationship and the staff are also very used to him.
Bharati: And they managed to get over their addictions, both of them?
Ang: Well, my dad still plays a little mahjong here and there. My mum is definitely out. She has more willpower. My mum really hated drugs actually, but she was addicted with no choice because there was so much pain in her. My dad was a playboy and it really affected her. But she had always wanted to quit, but it was just hard because when she come out of prison, you would meet the same friends, hang out with the same people. These were the only people she knew.
Last time, there were no rehab programmes. Everybody went to Changi Prison. In those days, she was in the same cell as the murderers and robbers. It took being in and out of prison for a decade for her to quit. I think one day, I will make a film about her too.
Bharati: Earlier you mentioned that you find it remarkable that without academic qualifications of any kind or formal business training, you have managed to make your business work.
Ang: Yes, I’ve shocked myself.
Bharati: But you mentioned in a recent interview that you regret you never passed your “A” Levels, and that you still want to pass your “A” levels. Why?
Ang: It’s just a goal. I love setting challenges for myself. If you take it 3 times and still fail, it’s very malu.
Bharati: Yeah, but why should it matter anymore? You’ve achieved all this without academic qualifications.
Ang: It’s more for my own satisfaction and achievement. In fact, recently I have been thinking more and more about it. I will select the subjects that I think I’m better at, which will have no numbers involved. No Math. Literature or History, maybe. I don’t know when I will do it. But I will do it.
IRENE ANG: A POTENTIAL OLYMPIAN?
Bharati: Before all of this, you were actually quite a promising sportswoman in swimming and fencing.
Ang: It was a short-lived career for a couple of years.
Bharati: Why didn’t you carry on and build on this?
Ang: For one, swimming requires a lot of support from family. Most of the swimmers are from the country clubs. Many of them have drivers driving them to the clubs to swim in the morning, and thereafter breakfast, then school. I came from a neighbourhood school that happened to have a swimming pool and it wasn’t really safe to go to the school at 5am to swim. But I did my best in school, managed to win some medals in school, represented the school. That was as far as I could go.
Bharati: What about fencing?
Ang: After school, I started work and I was putting on a lot of weight. In school, I was skinny because I was swimming every day. But when I started work, I was introduced to buffets and drinks, and I started going to Zouk and then I just ballooned and I wasn’t happy with my weight. Then I caught up with a school friend, and she was looking good. She said she had been fencing and asked me to join the team because they needed 2 people, so I did.
Bharati: You actually qualified to be a member of the Singapore Olympic selection squad.
Bharati: Why didn’t you just carry on?
Ang: I had no money to go. In those days we didn’t have all these packages and funds. I went to the SEA games. I won a medal. $2,500 was my prize money – $10,000 divided by the 4 of us in the team. I had to pay my manager $2,600. So I still had to pay $100. I had to buy a new sword, because when you go for competition, you cannot just bring one. You’ve got to bring three. You have to have an extra mask, shoes. So it cost me quite a fair bit. Also, to go to Barcelona for the Olympics at that point cost about $5,000. I had just started work and I didn’t have any money.
I had an offer of a scholarship right after the SEA games from the chief umpire from France. But I was afraid because at that time, my granny was old and I thought if I leave and something happens to her while I’m in France, what would happen to her? I also thought, “Where am I going to stay in France?” He said I would stay at his house. There were also all these news reports about China brides then, so I was scared he would sell me as a China bride, or make me his bride. Also, I don’t speak French and I never travelled so far in my life. So I turned him down and I went back to work in Singapore in the credit card company.
Bharati: You were also an insurance agent at one point
Ang: Yes, for seven years actually. A long time.
Bharati: Did you like that job?
Ang: I like the purpose of it. I still believe it is an essential product. But it wasn’t something that I was passionate about. Actually, even after I came into the entertainment industry, I wasn’t particularly passionate about acting, but I was particularly passionate about the industry. I wanted to change things in the industry. The veterans talked about low pay and long hours. Then I often wondered why nobody was doing anything about it.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR LOCAL TALENT
Bharati: So you set up FLY Entertainment in 1999 to address these issues.
Ang: In the hopes of making some changes, to improve some things, to make a difference.
Bharati: I’m sure you still haven’t resolved all the issues yet. Do you still have problems negotiating fair contracts? Are people’s expectations of entertainment folk still quite unrealistic?
Ang: When you work with agencies, they always try their luck. I have encountered agencies that win contracts, government contracts – and I want to say this very loudly on this show – government contracts that they have tendered for involving promotional campaigns to spread a message, etc, contracts they they are getting paid for. But they will come to us and expect our artistes to pose for free. I’ll turn around and ask them, are you getting paid to do this campaign? They’re charging hundreds of thousands. I know this because I see the tenders. But they don’t want to pay the artistes. They say it’s for a good cause. It’s for Singapore. Be patriotic.
I say I’m very patriotic. The whole world knows I’m a patriotic Singaporean. I love Singapore. But if you are charging for your services, why should my artistes do it for free?
Bharati: Is this a matter of a lack of integrity or do you think they just don’t value local talent
Ang: Sadly, sometimes, it comes from the government bodies themselves. They feel that this is a given. This is good for Singapore. Why should artistes charge? But it’s funny that they are okay to pay the agencies – advertising agencies and media agencies. So it could be the agencies. It could be the organizers. It could be the government. It could be the client who feels like, “What? You mean I have to pay this person how many thousands to make an appearance? It’s my one staff’s entire month’s salary, but they don’t understand that this is the value.
Bharati: Maybe you haven’t convinced them of the value. You need to try harder.
Ang: Yes, of course, these are people with track records. They bring in the influence, bring in the eye balls. They must be able to bring in the interaction with the audience. It’s not about just number of people. You know how on social media, the numbers of followers can be bought. It’s about interaction and engagement and how many people end up talking about your product.
Bharati: Why do you think, generally speaking, people tend not to value the talent as much as they should, in monetary terms.
Ang: I think we have taken several small little steps forward, but one of the issues is because the market is very small and we are also a small country, so you see the celebrities everywhere. So you don’t value them as stars who are going to make a huge impact. The marketing dollar makes more sense in a bigger market. But even in this market, if you didn’t have the artiste, you won’t do well at all. So you have to look at it that way. Also, social media has opened up the market. So there are artistes who have big fans in Malaysia and other parts of Asia.
Bharati: You have said that you want to see more Asian actors get a fair chance to show the world that Asia has so much talent. But let’s face it. That’s a problem even in Hollywood where there have been concerns over a lack of diversity.
Ang: But I feel that in the past few years there has been improvement. There are problems. But there are also more shows now with Asians in lead roles. Nexflix’s Marco Polo for example. George Young is the lead in Containment. I think they are beginning to realise that they need Asian faces, because the market is Asian. And they know that people are no longer stupid, thinking that only whites can be heroes, or can save the world. Currently I know there are some Hong Kong stars like Simon Yam who will be in lead roles with Hollywood stars. In fact, I’m surprised all this came in my lifetime.
Bharati: Do you think Asians value Asians enough?
Ang: There are two camps of people. You get people like me who say, “Everything Singaporean is the best.”
Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean that I hate foreigners or expats or whatever. But I feel that Singaporean local talent needs more support. But there are some people who still think that an “ang moh” face is better on stage or an “ang moh” host should be paid more. Doesn’t matter if an Asian artiste is actually better at the job.” So there are still people like that. But I think it’s the older generation. I have a lot of younger clients don’t care. They just want good, interactive, engaging hosts. It doesn’t matter what race or religion or whether you male or female. It doesn’t matter.
MAKING FILMS COMMERCIALLY VIABLE
Bharati: The movie that you executive-produced recently: ‘My Love Sinema’ by Tan Ai Leng – why did you feel so strongly about wanting to be a part of this film?
Ang: The script stood out from the rest of the scripts that were on my desk because it wasn’t your typical ghost or comedy show. I felt it was meaningful.
Bharati: How challenging was it to commercialise it?
Ang: It was originally very slow, and there were also a lot of complicated relationship lines. So some of this had to be simplified.
Bharati: How much tension was there between you and Ai Leng when it came to commercialising it? The artist’s vision tends to be different.
Ang: Thankfully, before I met Ai Leng, I had managed a lot of people like her and in her age group, so I’m was prepared for it. You always have to have a balance between artistic and commercial vision. There were also many times when I had to step in between her and the producer. Because the producer’s job is to guard the money and the budget. Ai Leng’s job is to make her movie to her plan.
Bharati: Give me one example of something you had to sacrifice in order to fit into the budget or to ensure it would be more appealing to a mass audience.
Ang: Till now one of my regrets is that we didn’t develop on the two lovers being apart and struggling to find each other. We didn’t have time to do those scenes. It would have also cost us an additional 50 grand. So we decided to take those scenes out and just have the characters talk about it in their dialogue. But it was much less impactful.
Also, in the beginning, her ideal cast was a Taiwanese star, or a Hong Kong star, or a China star. So it took me a long time to convince her. I said, “I can’t just do this for you. I mean I’m doing this for you and I want to help you make this film, but I want it to be a Singapore movie as well.”
So I wanted to cast Singaporeans as the leads and I thought, why can’t we make them stars
Bharati: But if you had big stars, making money at the box-office would have been more of a sure thing. Didn’t you see casting Singaporeans as a risk?
Ang: My principle has always been: who is right for the role. Also, if you look at it the other way, I’m saving some money by not getting big names, and at the same time, I’m giving local actors a chance. So I feel that my risk has actually been lowered because my cost is lowered. If I have the big stars, I have to work so much harder to get back the returns because the money has been spent.
LACK OF SUPPORT FOR LOCAL FILMS AND INDUSTRY PRACTITIONERS
Bharati: You mentioned once that you hope that someone from Singapore wins an Oscar.
Ang: In my lifetime.
Bharati: What do we need to happen in Singapore in order for that to happen?
Ang: We need a bit more budget for post-production. Especially when it comes to sound effects and all these things, I feel that it’s not grand enough. All the Singapore movies put together cannot even be compared to one Hollywood movie.
Bharati: So what do you think is needed in order to get people to invest more. Let’s be realistic. You have to convince investors that the film is worth their money and even has the ability to reach international markets.
Ang: Number one, I think what China does very well is that they put a limit to overseas films. One of the challenges was that we were treated like foreign, overseas movies. But the quality of a $1.5 million or $2 million film versus $200 million films – “Train to Busan” for example – how can you compare? Some cinemas didn’t even want to show our film. This did not just happen to my movie. It happens to many, many Singapore movies. The government should make it a rule that every cinema must have at least one slot with local films. It can be different time slots. So it helps, because we all get taken out after 2 weeks, 3 weeks. That is one thing they could start doing.
China has a limit of maximum 15 per cent overseas films. (This) means 85 per cent of whatever’s showing have to be China films. So no matter what, the China films will do well in the box office, because China is such a huge market. I’m only asking for Singapore authorities to impose, if they can, (that) each cinema must have the local film, if there is a local film. Our movie, for example, is not showing in the heartlands. It is a Chinese nostalgic film that a lot of old people would like to see. Word-of-mouth has been parents of my friends, who watched the movie loved it. But it’s not showing in Tampines. It’s not showing in Jurong Point where the elderly might go.
Bharati: But about the quotas and limits that you talked about – people shouldn’t have to support local films for the sake of it, or because they are simply not given choices. The film needs to be appealing to audiences and investors and cinema houses need to see returns as well.
Ang: But you see, the places where we are showing, we are doing well. So our film is showing at Nex. Nex is doing very well. It’s filling up more than 50 per cent everyday. That is positive, right?
Bharati: But if it were showing everywhere, and the audience were more well distributed, you may see less traction at each venue. I mean, you never know. The important thing is to improve the quality and commercial value of Singapore films, isn’t it? Some have said it’s rare to find quality storytelling in local films. There are some really good ones, but mostly it’s challenging and the lack of support doesn’t encourage more in Singapore to make films.
Ang: I feel that the talents, whether it’s the behind the screen or in front the screen, are there. But I feel that in terms of storytelling skills, we’re not experienced enough. In fact, I feel that Singapore is not a mature movie industry yet.
Bharati: It’s a vicious circle. If few local films do well, investors may not have faith in local productions, enough faith to invest. But if they don’t invest, high-quality films cannot be made. Or people won’t want to make films, in which case, it’ll be harder to grow into a mature industry populated by more film-makers with good storytelling skills. How do you think this can change?
Ang: I think we can start by making sure that ticket prices for some films, not all the films, films that are meaningful and educational, are subsidised by schools. Expose the students to more local productions, so they will not just think that, “Wow, Hollywood is so big deal or whatever.” It’s not that Hollywood is bad, but I think that by doing so, we can continue the filmmaking industry in Singapore.
Also, in terms of funding, I feel that when it comes to the grants that have been given to a lot of foreign production companies and the rules and regulations governing them, the government should seek industry people like us, practitioners, to help with the packaging of the business deals.
Recently, there have been cases of production companies and companies from overseas coming and doing co-production, but then they just ran away, or the company closed down. And we, Singaporeans are looking at this funds and thinking: “What?! We gave them S$15 million, or whatever?! And none of it came back to us. I think that they should spend more on the local talents.
Or at least tell the foreign companies, “Okay, if we give you S$10 million, you have to spend S$5 million on our Singapore companies. Or we will match you with a Singapore company to provide you with production help. Maybe the lighting expertise should come from Singapore.”
Bharati: Why do you think they’re not already doing this?
Ang: Sometimes, I think it’s a lack of knowledge. That’s why I think it should not just be the people working in the government body, it should be industry people, a group of industry veterans giving their advice. Because ultimately, all this is for Singaporeans and this is Singaporeans’ tax money. I know the government wants to help the industry and it’s a good thing to partner Hollywood, or German, or French companies. You can learn from them. But at the same time, don’t be a “sucker”. People in the film industry overseas are saying, “let’s go and get money from Singapore.” They see it as easy and no need to be accountable.
Bharati: We’ve talked about a range of things, and you’ve done many things in your life including facing failure. What is your biggest regret in life so far?
Ang: It’s really to see how far I could have gone with fencing actually. I got a medal in the SEA games. And just a year and a half after that, because I had to choose between going all out for my career or getting a simple 9-to-5 job so that I can train in the evenings as well; I chose not to continue sports.
In the end, sports just didn’t make any commercial sense to me, and I stopped and I didn’t pursue fencing. I don’t know where I would be if I had taken up fencing.
But also, if I had done that, I wouldn’t have gone the other way and be who I am today. It’s just at the back of my mind – what might have happened if I had gone down that road. Which is why once I got into acting and I was doing insurance at the same time, I made the choice to go into acting and entertainment. So the second time round, I chose the exciting, unknown territory of going into business, going into entertainment, going into what seemed, at that point, like an industry that has no growth, not much happening. But there were so many wrong things happening in it that made me want to go in there and make changes.
Bharati: So you’ve made up for what you regretted before?
Ang: Yes, I decided to go with the unsafe. I decided to have an adventure because the first time, I decided to be safe, so the second time, you know what? With the S$2,000 I put into this company, I have nothing left. So let’s just take flight and see where the flight takes us.
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lack-of-support-for-local-talent-still-an-issue-irene-ang-7804148