Actress Lydia Look returns from Tinseltown

Actress Lydia Look returns from Tinseltown

She has been based in Hollywood for over two decades, chasing her Tinseltown dream since she was 18.

Today, Singaporean actress Lydia Look, 41, wants to be home more often.

"I am actively sourcing for more local work, so I can come back regularly for my aged mum," she told The New Paper, adding that her 80-year-old mother is unable to visit her in Los Angeles as often as she used to.

One of very few Singaporeans to have broken into Hollywood, Look said it involved hard work and a lot of perseverance.

"I have worked in both capacities - acting and producing work as a screenwriter for TV and film," she said.

"And my experience has taught me to look into my heart for everything I do. That, with a good dose of guts, is all anyone needs to break into any industry."

Look received her early theatre training at Victoria Junior College as part of its first batch of theatre studies students. She was also one of the first three students to score an A in theatre for her A levels.

She left Singapore when she got a scholarship to the University of Southern California's film school.

In the 23 years she spent in LA, Look played small roles in various movies and TV series.

She rubbed shoulders with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the 1998 comedy Rush Hour, and starred in the 2013 Dolph Lundgren action flick Battle Of The Damned. Her body of work on TV includes Ally McBeal, ER, Bones and NCIS: Los Angeles.


"I think repeat business is vital for any artist," she said.

"Cultivating fans of your craft is vital, and playing muse to writers and directors that you admire is key."

Married to actor and stuntman Jen Sung Outerbridge since August 2005, Look said she gets typecast, but "as much as those stereotypes exists, I find (that) there is as much non-traditional, groundbreaking and all-ethnicities-included type of casting".

Look has rejected insulting stereotypical roles that "did not sit right" with her and will continue to do so.

"Sometimes you risk alienating the powers that be, but the key is to listen to your heart and dial down the noise from everybody else," she said.

"The saddest thing for me to see is an artist who ends up believing everything the industry tells them and silencing his own unique voice. This effectively annihilates the talent."

Look is currently in Singapore, acting in Checkpoint Theatre's The Way We Go, by playwright Joel Tan.

The play marks her return to the local stage after a 13-year absence, and she leads a stellar cast as protagonist Agatha Mao, former principal of the Convent of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The 90-minute play, written by Joel Tan and directed by Checkpoint's joint artistic director Claire Wong, looks at the lives of Agatha, her best friend Violet (played by Neo Swee Lin) and her love interest Edmund (Patrick Teoh), focusing on themes of romantic and platonic love among those who are getting on in their years.

As a former CHIJ Katong Convent student, Look said picking The Way We Go as her first project here was a "no-brainer".

"I connected with the material almost immediately because the voices in the script were those of my growing up years. I just couldn't say no."


The Way We Go


Nov 20 to 29, 8pm, with 3pm matinees on weekends


School Of The Arts, Studio Theatre, 1, Zubir Said Drive


$35 from Sistic (348 5555 or

Rated Advisory 16: Some Homosexual Content.

This article was first published on Nov 13, 2014.
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