Exclusive interview with Shen Qiaoyun, actor in Female Games
Previously, we met with actor Evelyn Maria Ng to share with us her experience as an actor in Female Games. This time round, we find out more about the other lead female actor in the film, Shen Qiaoyun, as she shares with us her perspective on her character, Sandy, and the film.
Felicia Ang, Miao (MI): What do you think about the film and its portrayal of the female mind?
Shen Qiaoyun (QY): Actually, I haven’t seen the film and I’m not sure how it has turned out. We filmed it without a script, so my knowledge of the plot is sketchy at best, especially since Kan said he changed the chronology as well as a major plot twist in his last edit. And he didn’t want to let me watch it until the world premiere!
But I think Female Games is really down-to-earth in that every scene was crafted to be honest and real. So I guess it will provide an insight into the minds of females and shed light on the motivations that drive our actions.
MI: Do you think your real life experience in the media industry makes it easier for you to relate to the role of Sandy?
QY: In acting, every bit of life experience helps in every role. Even when playing characters totally incongruous to our own, we try to draw on similar experiences.
Also, I think Kan has made a movie that’s reflective of women in general. When we were making the film, I thought the fact that our characters were models was just ancillary. It would have worked had we been something else. Office ladies or something, I don’t know. But I guess it did help that I kind of know how models might feel and behave in some of the situations we were given.
MI: Your character Sandy seems to be over ambitious and biased against Pan-Asian models. From your experience, do you think this brand of perception is proven true?
QY: We didn’t intentionally play up the Pan-Asian vs Asian angle when filming Female Games. The direction was more towards woman vs woman. But I can understand how people will see the race bias as an issue.
In my years of attending castings, I have been told by agents that Pan-Asians are more sought-after because they allow brands to reach out to more diverse audiences. We do see many casting notices specifically asking only for Pan-Asian models. But I think this dissention could easily be applied on any other industry or situation. For example, some areas of the service industry might be more predisposed towards hiring prettier applicants because it helps business.
MI: The catfight scene was exceptionally memorable and raw. Can you shed more light on it? Such as, what exactly was on your mind when you were going about it?
QY: My only concern at that time was to give Kan, as well as our audience, something real. That was how Kan wanted the whole film. It’s all about truth, no holds barred. While I’ve never experienced a real catfight, nor had any reason to want to physically fight another person, it was easy enough for me to throw myself into the task. Acting, for me, is about transporting myself to another reality and another persona.
At the start, I had to make my character hate Maria’s character. That wasn’t too hard since Kan had been pitting us against each other from the start. And then, I think, when anything physical happens, the adrenaline takes over and you just find yourself fighting for your life. The reason doesn’t matter anymore.
MI: Are there any other kind of roles that you have been hoping to take up but haven’t had the opportunity to?
QY: I would really love to play an action heroine, hopefully a costumed one. I have a strong attraction towards costumes, largely because it is instantly transforming. That’s the appeal of acting for me – the instant transformation of self and reality, the ability to experience different selves and different realities all the time.
I’m also a very active person. I love martial arts and stunts. So, I would really love to be in a film where I can be kicking around from start till end.
MI: Other than the catfight scene, are there any other scenes which left an impression or was memorable for you?
QY: I like the scene where the two of us arrive at our agent’s house and bicker over sharing a room. It’s a very simple scene but there was an unexpected moment of spontaneity in our conversation. It’s one of the little things that makes me feel good about acting.
MI: Has this been your most challenging role?
QY: I wouldn’t say it’s challenging because I was basically playing a character that’s half me: Model, ambitious, gullible. The other parts, the jealousy and catfights, are easy to imagine and blow up from the little insecurities within me which I’m sure also lurk within most people.
But I would say this has been the most emotionally demanding piece of work I’ve ever done. I cried onscreen, I cried offscreen. I cried so much during the week of filming because Kan demanded so much of us. I felt every inch of my soul rubbed raw and I was so drained by the end of it. But it was something I gave willingly and the crying was, I guess, in the end, carthartic.
MI: Have you encountered any lewd requests from people involved when you go for castings and auditions?
QY: Not implicitly. The cloeset I’ve experienced was when a Hong Kong director came to Singapore to cast for a film. After a casting session in the afternoon, he rang me up at night to invite me to a club for drinking. I politely declined.
MI: On your blog, you call yourself a New Media Artiste, have you ever thought about entering the traditional media officially anytime soon?
QY: How does one enter any media officially? I’m in both media and have always been. I am a New Media Artiste now because that’s where I’m wanted right now. I don’t actively choose where I want to be. I audition for jobs and I either get them or I don’t get them.
Since many things are out of my control, I can only focus on doing what I enjoy doing, which is to entertain people, and I simply follow where the jobs are!
MI: You seem to dabble in a bit of everything (writing, modelling, acting) and you even mentioned on your website that you are interested in music. Is there any in particular you would like to focus on?
QY: I believe in being all-rounded and having as many skills as possible. As an actress, you never know when you will be called upon to use those skills. For example, I had to play a ballerina once, and my childhood ballet lessons came in handy for that.
In terms of focus, I was focused on acting for a good four or five years. But opportunities for me to combine my skills of acting, writing and modelling came in new media. In a way, it’s even more fulfilling because I’m allowed to express myself in so many different ways at once. I’m all about variety. I like change and I like diversity.
To give an example, musical actors need to be able to sing, dance and act. I think being able to utilize many skills in one setting makes for very fulfilling work. In fact, musicals are also something that I would really love to get into.