Friday, 01 February 2013 15:45

Michelle Chong’s third ‘Pea’: From salesgirl to movie star

EXCLUSIVE: The search is over and this girl-next-door might be 2013’s breakout movie star

Text & Photos: Joanna Goh
Video: Teng Siew Eng
Additional footage: Huat Films


Michelle Chong poses with her lead actress Jae Liew in 3 Peas in a Pod

A raven haired girl in her early 20s greeted us with a chirpy "Hello!" when we arrived at Beets, a modern vegetarian restaurant located along Dempsey road, for our exclusive interview with Michelle Chong and her '3 Peas' lead actress yesterday.

Apart from exchanging the usual pleasantries, we paid no heed to our "greeter", whom we assumed was a member of Michelle's staff. Polite and sweet-looking, she easily resembled any other ordinary teenager found on the streets of Orchard Road. But boy, were we wrong.

Five minutes later, when Michelle strode in the room with her two-men entourage, we looked on in anticipation, half-expecting a third figure (her lead actress) to follow behind. But there was none in sight. Instead, the director looked over to the same raven haired girl and asked, "Have you met my lead actress and final 'Pea', Jae Liew?"

"Oops..." we said, now basking in embarrassment as Jae hurried across the room to greet us (again).

"That's fine. It's all good," Michelle assured us later. "This just means she looks really ordinary and very 'girl-next-door'. She's just what I'm looking for!"

Jae Liew, lead actress of 3 Peas in a Pod

Jae Liew, lead actress of 3 Peas in a Pod

Indeed. The 23-year-old embodies "Penny" (name of movie character) to perfection with her waist-long hair, blunt bangs, bright smile and sweet disposition. Sporting doe eyes and a lithe figure at 1.63m, Jae may not have a drop-dead gorgeous mien or a smoldering stare, but she's eloquent (check out our video interview), bilingual (in English and Mandarin!) and can be quite the charmer - as she was in our interview.

A salesgirl by day (she works in the fashion retail industry), the journalism graduate surprised us during the interview with her slightly American-accented English, which she picked up from her Filipino caretaker.

Born and bred in Singapore and the youngest of two children, Jae let on that acting was never on her cards but decided to give the auditions a shot because of her 2013 New Year's resolutions.

"I went there on whim and because my resolution is to do something challenging and push myself out of the box," she said. "And look at what happened. So take a chance, always take a chance!"

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