What’s been the best thing about acting since you took on your role in the romantic comedy, “Monsoon Wedding?”
“I’ve met so many amazing people and experienced so many new things. ‘Monsoon Wedding’ felt like a brilliant turning point to me. I started acting when I was 18 and it kind of felt very romantic for me to be at that age to be thinking, ‘One day I will be a leading man in a movie like this.’ ”
Why did you want to pursue this as a career?
“Being from Singapore, we’re an educated nation but we’re also lacking the self-esteem we need to be socially aware. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be able to do that for myself.”
Since your last big film, “Charlie’s Angels,” you’ve become a bit more camera shy.
“When I was shooting ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ my character wasn’t as good looking as I wanted to be. I had to turn down some offers that came my way because I would regret the decisions I made with my body.”
What’s your diet like?
“I always try to eat very healthy. I always prefer brown rice, and soy sauce instead of MSG or salt. I’m really into [Nigella] Lawson’s cooking. It’s like Japanese food with an Asian twist. I eat fish or chicken every day. I was doing ‘Monsoon Wedding’ for three months straight and so I was eating a lot of rice and took the weight off. Now I still eat Japanese food.”
What’s your beauty routine?
“I do get a bit of cheek cream from Sephora but there’s always extra cream, a lot more than in Singapore. Sometimes you get tempted to indulge. When you’re an actor, you become an island, an extension of yourself. I’ve learned to keep it simple: spray tans, face masks, a bit of hair spray, lip balm, a treat now and then. I also have a husband who can do most of my makeup for me. He has all the products for me. We don’t do much shopping. If we’re going to a show, we’ll just grab a cool T-shirt in Singapore.”
Did you see “Monsoon Wedding” when it first came out?
“I only saw it about a year ago. I was part of the first collection of Time Out’s Singapore’s best dressed list and it was quite embarrassing how I made myself look in the film, with all the sweatbands and armbands. I thought, ‘Can’t the film star look this way?’ ”
What are some of your closet secrets?
“I love my old favorites; they’re all on the showroom floor of my home right now. I’ve got all the Calvin Klein black jeans that I ever owned.”
Is there anything you’d change about the way your character went about getting a dress?
“Shopping and getting dressed is very much a negotiation. Sometimes you have to work hard to make the right argument to your handbag that you should have made a request to the store manager for a dressing room for a while. That’s how you get things done.”
Isabella Kwai is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @islabkai