She has been credited for pulling off awesome impersonations on local TV — from a ditzy American news anchor, to a Filipino domestic helper, to being an ambassadress for sarong-party girls (SPGs). She is the hyper-versatile Michelle Chong who stars on Channel 5's The Noose (a TV comedy series spoofing the news) — one whom you probably have difficulty typecasting in a single role.
The actor-comedienne-host’s latest feather in her cap was in film production, screenwriting and directing. Her directorial debut for “Already Famous” earned gross box office earnings of S$1.04 million after only 11 days. Impressive! Time we got to know Michelle a little better.
When I was little, I was very interested in drama, in the arts, in the performing arts especially. I went to Victoria Junior College and took Theatre Studies as an A-level subject. I really enjoyed creating stuff, from writing, to directing, to producing, to just being part of the creative team.
I think my teacher back then was quite impressed and told me that I could go further and pursue this line. So I went into Bates College to study theatre and then I came back and went to NUS for a while.
You know it’s so strange, because I know what they meant but I couldn’t empathize when people say, “Oh I had to give up certain things to pursue my dreams and passions.”
Because for me, this is my first job, my only job and I never did anything else. It was never an option to me, to do anything else. It’s so much a part of me that, it’s just like how some athletes would feel. They just never thought or felt they could do anything else or had an option to.
But lately in the last few years or so, I thought that performing was not what I wanted to do. That’s why I haven’t been very happy for a while, for the last few years.
When I decided to make my first movie, I had to take a seven-month no-pay leave first of all. And I had to put in a certain amount of money to make this film. So, this was a huge decision. I guess it was the right decision. I am a lot happier now and I think this is what I want to do. To be in the creative process, rather than be at the end of it when I am just performing what someone else handed to me.
I’m so confused now because I have so many split personalities and not just in reel life, but in real life too. I’m doing a hundred and one things. Right now, I’m preparing for my second movie and I’m still filming The Noose and I’m going to New York for Singapore Day. Also, I just started my new artiste management company, Left Profile.
I think I’m genetically wired to multi-task.
I’m not saying this just because it’s Singapore Day, but I’m one of those people who would really, just want to stay in Singapore and nua. Just chill.
I travel a lot for work. I guess, you can call me insular or whatever, but I’m one of those people who are comfortable when I am in Singapore. I just feel lost in a foreign place and every time I’m overseas for more than three days, I’ll get really restless and I’ll miss my home, miss Singapore.
Yet, I’ve also seen a lot of the world. And I understand that in every country, there are differences, cultural differences and pros and cons of living in every country. But of course I am very grateful, for the sense of security I always have back home.
Last year in Shanghai, I got all emotional. I don’t know if you remember this but when Kit Chan sang “Home”, during the finale, I felt so emotional. I saw one or two people in the audience tearing, and I started to cry along. And everybody started to get emotional as well.
I don’t think they’ll see Barbarella crying this time. She’ll be bubbly, she’ll be fun and she’ll want to share the fun with the rest of the overseas Singaporeans.
Catch Michelle Chong and Chua Enlai in New York City this Singapore Day!
But to do that, you've got to first register for Singapore Day!
In the meantime, you can watch the highly versatile Michelle Chong in past episodes of The Noose by clicking here. Or let Jacques Ooi, Adrianna Wow, B.B. See and Barberella from The Noose entertain you with their fanciest mambo moves for now.
By Norafiq Ismail