Singapore Polytechnic student Gan Zhi Jian was initially reluctant to take off his shirt in the finale of Channel 8 talent hunt Hey Gorgeous on Monday.
Eventually, he went shirtless and won the contest that scouts good-lookers with star quality from schools in Singapore. Gan, 20, won the most public votes among the eight finalists and took home $3,000 in cash and a chance at a career in show business.
"I was told only that I would be taking off my shirt four days before the finale. I wasn't confident of my body because it's a been a while since I went to the gym. I feel that I'm not in top form," says Gan, who was a member of Singapore Polytechnic's dragon boat team.
However, even before he went shirtless, he was already a hot favourite to win the contest. In an interview segment that aired during the live telecast of the finale, many of his competitors had tipped him for the title.
Hor Ying Ying, who ended up among the top three, believes that Gan has the personality for show business. "He's humorous and has this charisma to connect with fans," says Hor, 20, a communications and new media major at the National University of Singapore.
The show's emcee, Ben Yeo, 37 says: "Zhi Jian was one of the contestants whom I expected to win. This contest is based on votes. He has an edge because he's popular and good-looking.
"Of course, once he took off his shirt, I'm sure it helped him garner more votes. I think he has a chance of getting signed with the TV station."
Gan, who is studying banking and finance, is open to pursuing a career in show business. He looks up to local TV veteran Li Nanxing. "I've watched the dramas he has acted in since I was young. He's cool. He's my idol," says Gan, who is the younger of two children of a factory manager father, 49, and a housewife mother, 50.
"We see quite a few with potential in this batch," says Mr Paul Chan, MediaCorp's Vice President, Channel Branding & Promotions, Chinese Family Segment. He adds that the TV station will be contacting some of the finalists "very soon" to discuss possibilities.
Perhaps Gan could be the next Elvin Ng. One of MediaCorp's biggest stars, Ng got into show business via another campus- themed talent hunt, School Belle And The Beau (2005), which is considered the predecessor to Hey Gorgeous.
Or, Gan could follow in the footsteps of Hey Gorgeous alumna Carrie Wong, 21. Since coming in third in the 2013 season, the Nanyang Polytechnic graduate has gone on to become one of local TV's brightest stars.
She was the youngest actress voted into the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes at this year's Star Awards and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a feisty dessert hawker in The Journey: Tumultuous Times (2014). At Monday night's event at MediaCorp, where she was a guest, her fans made their presence felt with hollered declarations of adoration for her and signboards emblazoned with her name.
Speaking to the media backstage after the show, Wong says: "When I look at the contestants, I see myself back then. It's amazing how things have unfolded.
"Two years ago, it was my classmates and family members seated in the audience rooting for me. Now, I have my own fan club shouting my name. It feels surreal."
This article was first published on October 27, 2015.
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