Irene Ang's neighbours thought she would be a prostitute

Irene Ang's neighbours thought she would be a prostitute
Irene Ang opens up about her rough childhood, and how she realised the true adage - that what didn't kill her had made her stronger. Photo: ST
PHOTO: ST

Behind her upbeat personality lies a painful past.

But that past gave local comedian and CEO of talent agency FLY Entertainment, Irene Ang, the strength and drive to succeed.

During her childhood, Ang and her brother sometimes had no roof over their heads.

Her home life was extremely unhappy.

Ang's mum and dad were both addicts - the former to drugs, the latter to gambling.

Their vicious quarrels and fights often meant Ang's mother storming out of the house with the kids.

Ang said she would sleep at bus shelters.

Ang recounted her difficult childhood at the press conference for the Fairy Godparent programme last Friday (June 12).

The initiative by The Yellow Ribbon Fund and Industrial and Services Co-Operative Society (ISCOS) helps children of ex-offenders acquire a good education and positive life skills.

For Ang, 47, being able to speak at this event was special for her as her mum went to prison in the 1980s because of her drug addiction.

Arguably most famous for playing Rosie in local sitcom ​Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, Ang said she wanted to inspire young people in similar circumstances to combat the odds like she did.

In an interview with The New Paper, Ang gave her advice to children facing similar struggles.

"Never, never, never give up! Never, never blame your parents!"

Indeed, throughout the press conference, there was no blame aimed at either parent.

But Ang readily admits that the escaping from her embattled circumstances was not something that she could have done alone.

"I'm taking this opportunity to thank all my uncles and aunties who took over in bringing me up," she says.

"And I'm also thankful I have an amazingly protective brother, Spencer. God's gift to me above all, I had an incredible granny."

The comedienne also said that she was in some way fortunate that she grew up in an era of bigger family dynamics.

"In those days, we had large families. My father has nine siblings so we could all chip in to help each other."

"Nowadays, families are a lot smaller so through ISCOS's Godparent programme, we can help these families."

As a Co-operative for ex-offenders, ISCOS helps members with their reintegration into society and extends support to their families as well and the event acknowledged two of its major sponsors - Trafigura Foundation and Goldbell Group.

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