Maid-in-waiting now a star: Page 2 of 4

Maid-in-waiting now a star
Mediacorp actress Rebecca Lim.

She says earnestly: "It's not like I'm the most beautiful of all the actresses, the tallest or the most eloquent. I'm really not. It's very humbling when I sit back and think about it, like, why are all these things given to me and not to so-and-so. When things are given to me, I'm very, very appreciative of it because I know that it's not me who has gained all this. It's with the help of a lot of people like managers, my style team."

What might seem like overnight success has in fact been the result of hard work over several years. She came to acting through the beauty pageant route and is the first to admit that she was terrible.

On how she got started in the business, she says: "Surprisingly, my parents, who are very traditional, were the ones who pushed me towards that. They said since it's an opportunity and you're going to be doing a course you're not very interested in, why don't you just do it? That was how everything started."

Lim had her heart set on being a doctor but was not accepted for the course at the National University of Singapore. She eventually went to SMU as it had extended the application deadline.

Her debut was in Family Matters (2006), where she had a tiny role as a secretary in a law firm. She winces at the memory. "My Mandarin was so bad that even for a short line like "Mr Tan, you have a meeting at 3pm today", I would NG (abbreviation for a no-good take) close to 20 times."

The entire filming experience left her, well, cold. She says: "It was very cold but I was still perspiring as I was so nervous. I was not used to cameras and the pressure and to be put in a situation where you are not equipped with the skills or you are uncomfortable or not confident, that makes it worse. Once you flop, your insecurity makes everything worse."

To her surprise, her contract was extended after that excruciating first year. She says: "If I were them, I wouldn't have extended my own contract. I was just very under-utilised and very forgettable."

It was Mr Andrew Cheng, 63, now a consultant for MediaCorp Studios & Artiste Management, who championed her then and indeed, he was the one who spotted her at the beauty pageant.

Lim recalls that he once said to her: "I was the one who spotted you so I don't think I'm wrong, let's try again."

She adds wrily: "He tried a lot of times, a lot of years. I'm glad it worked out."

Mr Cheng tells Life! that he was not scouting for stars then, rather, he was looking for artists with "unique personality". He proclaims: "Star quality is a given once you are successful."

And while she was "not the prettiest nor the most glamorous", she left such a striking impression that years later, he still remembers where she was sitting exactly in the MediaCorp TV Theatre when he first saw her during a rehearsal. "To me, she is the same girl that I saw - quiet, simple, humble and very talented," he says.

Slowly, the roles became meatier and Lim was ready to sink her teeth into them.

Playing a prostitute in the nostalgia drama Fighting Spiders (2009) marked a turning point. She had actually gone for the "goody role" but was asked to audition for the role of Susie Woon instead. Fearing she would be typecast after that, her first instinct was to turn it down.

That initial voice of doubt turned out to be wrong as she was named Elle Awards 2010's Actress of the Year by the fashion magazine.

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