Actress Angeline Yap still proud of baring body after online harassment

She has been called cheap, fame-hungry and just plain trashy on her Facebook page.

Men have been messaging her, asking for sex.

Even her parents are angry with her for taking on such a racy role.

But local actress Angeline Yap, who has taken off all her clothes in the upcoming local thriller Lang Tong, has no regrets.

The 27-year-old, whose acting credits include the yet-to-be-released indie drama 1400, insisted that she would do it again, given the chance.

Yap's notorious role in the Sam Loh-directed movie has been the talk of the town since the trailer was released recently as part of this year's Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF), which kicked off two days ago.

The 11/2-minute trailer, which has garnered over 230,000 views on YouTube, gives a graphic glimpse into the movie's themes of sex, violence and murder.

Yap, the lead actress, is seen topless in the trailer in some steamy sex scenes, including one with actress Elizabeth T.

Since the trailer came out, Yap, who finished in the top five in this year's Miss World Singapore, said that strange men have started propositioning her for sex.

She said: "There are many netizens who message me online to ask me out or ask for sex and I've turned them down."

"I've also had dodgy photographers and film-makers contact me about doing photoshoots and movies for them, I've also turned them down."

Worse still, she has been called a lot of names on her Facebook page

But even though the online criticism has hurt, the actress stands by her decision to bare it all for the movie.

She wrote previously on her Facebook page: "Just because no one is daring enough, it doesn't mean it can't be done..."

"It only shows that I'm strong and brave enough."

In an interview with The New Paper on Thursday, Yap gave another insight into the reason for her courage: Her battle with anorexia.

Having almost died from the disorder in her teenage years, the actress believes that her decision to bare her body is proof that she has conquered her fears.

Yap had also just ended a six-year relationship with her boyfriend last year when she was asked to audition for Lang Tong.

PUSH FACTOR

The painful break-up had pushed her to face her demons as it was the first time she had been single since she recovered from anorexia.

"Recovering from anorexia for me was a miracle in itself," said the 1.64m-tall Yap, who weighed a mere 33kg when she was 15.

"As someone who hated my body and had low self-esteem, I've proven to myself that I am not ashamed of my body any more by being brave enough to bare it all in a film."

Yap said: "I hope other women who are struggling to love themselves will one day realise that everyone is beautiful in her own way."

Yap, who started recovering from the eating disorder only when she was 21 and now weighs a healthy 47kg, said: "I am not asking other people to go out and accept these roles. I am proud to say that I did this (starring in Lang Tong) for me."

In the movie, which is Cantonese for "nice soup", Yap plays lesbian femme fatale Li Er who has always blamed her older sister Li Ling (Vivienne Tseng) for her mother's death.

Her character hatches a plot to seduce her sister's womanising conman boyfriend Zach (William Lawandi) and get him to murder Li Ling.

Tickets are sold out for the Dec 13 SIFF screening and a commercial release date is still in discussion.

Yap admitted that when she was filming a shower sex scene with Lawandi, she was still self-conscious about her body and kept asking the director if she looked fat.

She said: "But I tried to control my insecurities and focus on the scene, and after a while, I was okay.

"So many people kept saying that I was doing it for the fame.

"When I accepted this film, the director had told me that it wasn't confirmed that the nude scenes would make the cut.

"He had also produced this film with the international market in mind. So it came as a surprise that it made it past the Singapore censors uncut, with a R21 rating.

"So how was I stripping for fame when initially, nothing was a guarantee? That doesn't even make any sense."

After accepting the role, the National University of Singapore communications and new media graduate quit her "government job" to pursue acting full-time as it was her childhood dream.

She did not tell her parents about her role in Lang Tong and they were upset when they read reports about her nude scenes a few days ago.

Said Yap: "They were very angry and they scolded me."

"I explained to them why I did it and even got my co-stars to talk to them."

"They said they were just worried about me. I told them not to worry because I won't be taking up such roles again, unless it's some big Hollywood film."

"I'm the sensible type. I'm very careful about what I choose to do."

More to movie than sex, says director

Stop talking about the sex already.

Lang Tong's director Sam Loh, 46, was both amused and exasperated with the feedback his film's trailer has garnered.

He said that his dark, controversial thriller is just a movie and its plot certainly revolves around a lot more than just sex.

He told The New Paper: "I wanted to make a film of high quality, like those Japanese and Korean films where the audience can go see it and be thoroughly entertained."

"That is the reason I had to push the boundaries further."

"What people don't know is that the production team for Lang Tong was very small, less than 20, and we had a budget of only $500,000 for this independent film."

"I hope people watch it and appreciate that from what little resources we had, we managed to produce something comparable to films that have much bigger budgets."

EXPERIENCE

Loh has more than 15 years of film and TV directing experience.

His credits include Channel 5 crime drama Code Of Law (2012) and children's dramas for Channel 8.

He made one other film, Outsiders, in 2004, about young dysfunctional Singaporeans. It was not shown here, but was screened at festivals such as the Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy.

Loh said that he had written the script for Lang Tong a few years ago, but could not find an actress willing to bare it all in the film.

Local actress Angeline Yap was the first one to agree to the demands of the role when he met her last year, allowing Lang Tong to be filmed and submitted to the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) this year.

Said Loh: "I'm very happy with people's response to the trailer. To hear that the tickets have been sold out for the screening is also a surprise."

"I didn't expect the outcome to be so good."

The SIFF is looking into adding additional dates for screenings of Lang Tong.

Tips to getting sex scene right

In the movie Lang Tong, one of the most difficult things actress Angeline Yap had to do was to simulate sex on-screen.

People have no idea how technical the whole process really is, she said.

Yap gives five tips from her experience shooting the movie:

Before filming starts, discuss with your co-star what you should do - where you should place your hands and what you are comfortable with to avoid awkwardness later.

Rehearse before shooting and talk yourself through it a few times.

Pretend that you are having sex with someone that you really love. That emotion will help facial expressions be more realistic.

Get in character. Don't be distracted or self-conscious of your body.

Do not eat or drink much before the scene. Some water and vegetables are fine. You do not want to look bloated during the scene as that will affect your confidence.

cchar@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 6, 2014.
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