When did you decide that you want to be a full-time emcee/choreographer?
It wasn’t a decision I made. It just happened. I had a cushy job as a sports operations and development executive. Six months into the job, my manager was leaving and I knew I was going to be taking over her workload. However, there wasn’t going to be a pay raise. So I gave my notice and I made a decision to get out of the 9-to-5 rat race. I did so and I never looked back. I was 21.
Did you have any professional training as a dancer?
I never had any professional training. I was a street dancer — the concourse at Esplanade was my second home — and I watched tons of music videos. And then came my first gig: teaching recreational hip-hop dance for the teachers and staff at a kindergarten. I also taught dancing on a weekly basis at Boys’ Town. I dove right into the work — I’d come up with new choreography every week without fail!
Choosing the right song is very important when you conduct dance classes. And seeing people enjoy the music and dance to the rhythm with your choreography… it really evokes a sense of achievement.
What about your break into emceeing?
Right after I graduated from Singapore Polytechnic’s Media and Communication, I worked for a boutique public relations (PR) firm, which had a sister events company. After working as a PR officer for three months, I hopped over to the events field.
I liked the work. But the irregular hours didn’t appeal to me. I had to do up proposals, attend meetings, and be an assistant to my boss who at the time was an emcee. He gave me a few tips. I watched him work, watched how others work, learnt how to spin as a deejay and I simply worked hard. Ultimately, it is all about your personality: How you deliver lines, scripted or not.
I shamelessly told my ex boss that I wanted to give hosting a shot. And chance came! There was one weekend when he was double booked and he selected me as his replacement. Yay me! I received positive feedback and he then referred me to another events agency. It’s kind of like a ripple effect. It was harder back then, trying to get your name out there. These days, there’re Facebook groups, which make it easier for us emcees to connect with one another!
Any sweet memories of your first emceeing gig?
It was a gig at Heartland Mall. I was doing voiceover works for the shopping mall’s promotions. Shortly after, I had another voiceover gig for CLEO magazine, and things started revving up. With voiceover gigs, you don’t have to face the crowd, but you draw the crowd in with announcements. It was nice to have shoppers come up to me and compliment my voice — some even asked if I worked as a deejay! That boosted my confidence. From voiceover gigs, I then moved up to become an event host.
I’d imagine you get questioned about your decision to go freelance and not get a “steady job”?
My family always probed and asked me why I do not get an office job that pays Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions and bonuses. And it’s true, my job has an age cap: I don’t think I’d be dancing when I’m 40! Right now I do contribute to my own CPF account, although I lose out on employer’s CPF contributions. And having a sizeable CPF balance is key to buying a house in Singapore.
But hey, I’ll worry about all that later. I love what I’m doing, and I honestly don’t know if I can keep this up for life. I should just carpe diem! Life is short — do what you love.