For many people, the struggle between pursuing one's dreams and practicality is a tough one, especially when you have to give up a stable job that pays $7,000 a month.
But sometimes the gamble pays off and for local actor Ayden Sng, apart from emerging as TV's next big thing, he even got to kiss his idol Jesseca Liu.
On the latest episode of the meWATCH talkshow Hear U Out, the 27-year-old actor told local host Quan Yi Fong that prior to joining showbiz, he was a product consultant in the tech industry. To put it simply, he would design phone applications and decide what kind of functions and features they had.
To top it off, he was even drawing $7,000 a month at the time he left.
His path to becoming an actor started when an opportunity to act in the 2019 Channel 8 drama Walk With Me came along.
Ayden said: "I've always been interested in the arts. I was in the Chinese orchestra, and I tried acting on stage for the first time in university. I actually wanted to continue my hobbies when I came back to Singapore, and I thought of doing some community theatre or acting in a play.
"I happened to meet the boss of a management company. He told me he was shooting Walk With Me and asked if I was interested in acting in it. I decided to try, and that decision was like opening a door to more opportunities."
Ironically, Ayden admitted that he never harboured any desire to be an actor, but he took a chance because he loves trying new things. He even shared that he "suffered a lot" while filming the series because it was his first show and he "didn't feel any joy from acting".
That said, he knew that his acting was terrible and understood why the director picked on him. Not wanting to give up, he persevered and found his big break when he joined Mediacorp in 2019.
"I didn't want to give up after shooting the drama. I wanted to try acting again to prove to myself that I wasn't that bad. That was when I met my benefactor, [veteran host-actor] Bryan Wong," he said. Ayden secured the lead role on Bryan's directorial debut The Playbook.
Ayden added: "Even though the shoot only lasted six days, it was the first time I felt the joy of acting for the screen."
Eventually, his path would also lead him to act opposite his idol, actress Jesseca Liu. Ayden, who said he was "from the 'Seven Princesses' generation", was a fan of the actresses. In his 2020 drama Loving You, he starred opposite Jesseca and had a kissing scene with her.
He gushed: "It was like a goddess appeared before my eyes. And we also had a kissing scene a few days into the shoot, which was something I never imagined to ever happen. I must have been extremely lucky to be able to kiss someone like her.
"The shyness I portrayed on screen wasn't because my character lacked experience, but it was because I was really shy and nervous to be doing a scene with my 'childhood goddess'. I'd sometimes have no idea what I was doing. And then I'd feel that I'd made the right decision. That I picked the right profession."
A "selfish" decision
Jokes aside, Ayden has a more deep-seated reason for being committed to his decision to become an actor and it stems from the fact that his parents financed his university education.
Ayden majored in international comparative studies at Duke University in North Carolina and his tuition fees for over three-and-a-half years came up to $400,000. When talking about it on the show, he confessed that he felt guilty. Though his family has been quite well-off — his parents are business owners — business has been "exceptionally bad in recent years".
And he made this choice to attend Duke University when "my family's finances weren't as stable".
He said: "That was quite selfish of me. And if I choose to be selfish, I'll need to pay the price. I must make sure that I won't regret my decision. I have to be extremely disciplined. I have to be responsible to myself, my parents, and my family. I gave my best in the past few years. I didn't slack off.
"And I didn't choose this profession because it's easier or for my own vanity. I've given my best in this profession."
To that end, he has financed his own music projects and even seeks ways to improve himself during his free time. He shared that he never liked being photographed since he was little, but after filming his first drama, he realised he needed to learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera.
Ayden said: "I had to overcome this issue. So I would go on Instagram every weekend and message photographers, asking if they wanted to do a test shoot. We'd both do the test shoot on a complimentary basis. I would go for these test shoots every week. I learnt about my angles and how to pose. I learnt to be confident in front of the camera."
His determination comes from his desire to not disappoint his parents who support him unconditionally. So he makes it a point to do everything to the best of his ability and to give a 100 per cent.
"Even if things don't work out, at least I know I haven't let myself or my parents down," Ayden said.
He added: "The great thing about my parents is that they'll never disapprove of what I want. They just tell me that if I want to do something, they'll let me."