Radio DJ-host Rosalyn Lee's new acting role is not just her first, it also helped her confront her issues with her estranged father.
When she was 11, he abandoned their family and has not been heard from since.
In Channel 5's new drama series Premonition, Lee plays Belinda, a rookie cop who struggles after being implicated in her policeman father's corruption.
"I can really relate to Belinda because both our dads left us," Lee told The New Paper last Friday during a set visit at the old Beach Road Police Station.
"To commit to the role, I had to make myself vulnerable. I just bawled.
"The first time I cried during one scene, I continued crying even after they called 'cut'. And I actually told our director Gavin (Lim), 'This is horrible, I hate this',"
When asked if this made it difficult for her to continue with Premonition, Lee, 36, said it was actually the opposite.
"Weirdly, it made it easier for me to perform.
"That day, Gavin offered to let me take a break, but I knew I would continue wallowing in it. So we moved on to the next scene and that helped.
"It was cathartic and I felt a burden had been lifted."
Although Lee was worried she would not be able to tap into her emotions again, the incident "opened the floodgates" and allowed her to shed her character's cold exterior, she said.
"I started to become my character... think like her, even ad-lib like her," said Lee.
Premonition also stars American-born Chinese actor Johnny Lu, last seen on TV in the 2008 local comedy Sayang Sayang, as protagonist Jonah and Ezann Lee as Jonah's wife Sasha.
Premiering next month, the drama centres on Jonah, who gains the power to see visions of people's fatal ends.
Belinda teams up with Jonah and enlists his help in solving cases.
Said Lee: "My main challenge was not to remain the weakest link. I knew I was the weakest link when I started, as everyone else in the cast has acting experience.
"When I realised that even the episodic actors were performing better than I was, I knew I really needed to buck up,"
In Premonition, Belinda is desperate to prove herself in the police force after her father's corruption scandal, something the fiercely individualistic Lee could also relate to.
"Five years ago, I hit rock bottom in my radio career. I was determined to be myself, but (clients) were not using people like me.
"Everyone around me was getting gigs, earning money and getting on magazine covers. And here I was, struggling to find savings at the end of the month.
"I did consider leaving the job, but somehow things just picked up. I think people realised, 'Hey, she's just going to continue being her... Who cares if she shaves her hair and has tattoos. Let's just use her for who she is.'"
Besides sharing a similar backstory, Lee says she and her on-screen alter ego have matching character traits as well.
"Belinda is very much like me, a loud person with a soft emotional core. She's all, 'Look at me, everyone!' But she has a soft side, which you'll see in later episodes."
Filming sometimes took place at grimy locations like dark, dingy carparks, but the tomboyish Lee also did not mind getting down and dirty.
"All of Ezann's scenes so far have been in posh air-conditioned places, whereas I have to run through void decks and get all sweaty," she said with a laugh.
Lee's star seems to be on the rise, but she shook her head when asked if she would be starring in future dramas.
"Nope, I have no plans for the moment. I'm just taking each day as it comes."
This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
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