'I was conceited': Elvin Ng on A levels setback

'I was conceited': Elvin Ng on A levels setback
INSPIRATIONAL: (Above) Elvin Ng at MacPherson Secondary with radio DJ Kimberly Wang (in black) and TV host Belinda Lee.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Local actor Elvin Ng used to rank in the top 10 of his class in Jurong Primary School.

But the 34-year-old became lazy during his secondary school years in Catholic High School, went on to fail his A levels at National Junior College (NJC) and had to repeat his second year in a private school.

Ng was speaking to about 300 students from the upper secondary cohort at MacPherson Secondary School during a social outreach programme, The Celebrity Stopover, organised by MediaCorp last Friday.

He was joined on stage by local host Belinda Lee and radio DJ Kimberly Wang, who also shared their experiences as students.

Speaking to The New Paper after the hour-long session, a candid Ng said in fluent English: "I felt so lousy and lost after I got my A-level results, as I didn't expect myself to fail Economics. All my football friends made it to university, but I didn't."

He added: "I still remember the disappointment in my parents' eyes when they found out. They didn't scold me but the silence made it worse. "

Ng decided to share his experience with the students because he wanted to impress upon them the importance of consistency and hard work.

"I was being conceited and I thought that I could get away with things as I used to be so good in school," he said.

"This setback was like a wake-up call. I really learnt my lesson the hard way and bounced back from there."

Ng repeated his second junior college year in a private school as he felt too embarrassed to be retained at NJC.

He spent the first half of that year trying to come to terms with the fact that he did not make it to university - a period he admitted was not easy. He said: "I felt stuck because if I didn't get into a university, I would only have secondary school education. I felt like a lost spirit wandering around."

He added: "I picked myself up in the second half of the year and studied very hard. I think my story is a good lesson for students who think they can succeed without hard work."

Ng's hard work paid off, as he went on to get good results, even scoring an A in Literature.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in English Literature from the National University of Singapore, a course he said he really enjoyed.


Ng joined showbiz in 2005 after he was discovered on variety show School Belle And The Beau in 2004.

He struggled at first as critics panned his diction and wooden acting skills, with some calling him a "himbo" and commenting that he only got by due to his boyish good looks.

Now, Ng is one of the most popular actors on Caldecott Hill and has won the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste award at every Star Awards ceremony since his debut.

In November, Ng will pair up with his frequent co-star Rui En for a new drama. He will play a villain and a bad husband - something he is looking forward to as he has been portraying "the squeaky-clean good boy" for the past few years.

On Thursday afternoon, Ng also visited Pathlight School with actress Felicia Chin to deliver a motivational talk to its students with autism and related learning disorders, as part of the series of school tours.

He said: "I want to be like an elder brother to the students and as a public figure, I can share these experiences and, hopefully, influence them."

MacPherson Secondary School student Joshua Soh, 15, told TNP that he found the talk inspirational, especially Ng's story. "As a student, I can understand his plight. But look at him, he is a star now.

His story teaches us to be resilient and inspires us to work harder."

Mrs Dolly Ong, principal of MacPherson Secondary School, said the talk would help the students with character building.

She added: "The students can understand that nothing is smooth-sailing for everybody and that the stars also went through struggles themselves.

"I want the students to build confidence and accept setbacks and I think that through the conversations today, the stars showed all these values."

I felt so lousy and lost after I got my A-level results, as I didn't expect myself to fail Economics.


This article was first published on July 27, 2015.
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