She's been working in the French international equity firm for close to two years, but her Parisian colleagues have no idea just how famous Sharon Au is in Singapore.
The 44-year-old former actress and host has kept her celebrity status a secret from them because "they scorn famous people". But there have been a couple of close calls.
In a one-to-one interview with AsiaOne yesterday (Dec 19), Sharon told us: "I have never been so low-profile in my life. French people are not the type who will give you special treatment, in fact, they scorn famous people.
"Once, they chanced upon my Instagram account and they said, 'Wow, why do you have close to 100,000 followers?' I gave a really stupid excuse — because it was on the spur of the moment and I didn't know how to come up with the perfect lie — and they bought it!
"I told them Singapore is very tech-savvy, and we are an Instagram nation. Everybody follows everybody, and our Instagram (account) is bustling with life. French people don't Instagram, they scorn social media."
"Another day, we were on the streets, and a group of Singaporeans and Malaysians came up to me and took photos (with me). My colleagues asked why they wanted photos with me, because obviously, we didn't look like we were friends.
"I told them, Singaporeans are very friendly, and when we see fellow Singaporeans, we take pictures (together). They bought it! They didn't suspect (anything) at all. "
Looks like Sharon hasn't lost her ad-libbing hosting skills!
In fact, she made quite the perfect rib at her good friend, actress-host Michelle Chong, yesterday at the launch of Sharon's new online French culinary school Ti Yan Academy.
"You wouldn't be where you are today if I hadn't left Singapore!" Sharon told her guest Michelle, whose popularity has risen through the roof in recent years with her online videos and hilarious personas.
Ohmygawd. Thank goodness both are famously good friends.
TI YAN ACADEMY
While we wish Sharon was still in local showbiz and delighting us with her ditzy humour, she is happy and doing very well in the world of business.
Besides being the investment director in the education and technology sector in the French international equity firm, Sharon is now also the CEO of Ti Yan, which in Chinese means 'experience'.
The academy currently offers online learn-at-your-own-pace courses in French cuisine, and Sharon intends for the business to venture in due time into the soft power of French influence, such as wine degustation, fashion design, and opera appreciation, to showcase what she experienced two years ago when she first lived in Paris.
Sharon admitted local actress Jeanette Aw and singer Tanya Chua's current pursuit of the culinary arts gave her inspiration and confidence to set up Ti Yan. But she won't be pulling them to join her classes "because they are already way, way advanced".
PLAYING THE BAD GUY FOR THE FIRST TIME
As her boss in the equity firm is also her sponsor for Ti Yan, Sharon will be juggling her responsibilities for both jobs at the same time.
But for the next one and a half months, Sharon will be based in Singapore, juggling a third ball and thus, sleeping only three hours a day.
She will play the antagonist in Toy Factory's play 7 Sages of the Bamboo Grove, performing on Jan 31 and Feb 1 at the Esplanade as part of the Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts 2020 programme line-up.
She initially offered to be a "calefare" (extra), but was instead offered the "Big Brother" role in the play about a dystopian surveillance state.
"I said yes (to the role) because I didn't know I'd be so busy, so now I'm feeling like I think I want to die," said Sharon.
"But the main reason is because Toy Factory's Goh Boon Teck was the one who discovered me when I was 19. He gave me my first role in the musical I Have A Date With Spring, and so I was discovered by then-TCS (now Mediacorp)."
She added: "(My character) will control everyone's life and surveil them closely. Nobody has human rights, and no one can write or create anything remotely literary.
"This is my first bad-guy role, so that's another reason I convinced myself (to accept the role). Even though I've left the industry, to have a role that's different from anything I've played before, that could be quite interesting."