September 30, 2017

At 43 years old, Cynthia Koh’s acting career is a testament to her passion and perseverance. Cynthia’s foray into the entertainment industry started when she was 18 years old, after enrolling in a Drama Artiste Course. 25 years later, she still hasn’t called it a day,“ I will still act if the script calls for it. After all, I am still very zesty about acting.”

While her counterparts have either gone to China to pursue more opportunities or for the most part, settled down with a family, Cynthia shows no signs of slowing down. The petite powerhouse’s tireless nature is evident in all aspects of her life. There are some days when she doubles up as a floor manager at Mischief—a joint venture which Cynthia started with her good friend cum fellow actress Michelle Chong and former DJ Daniel Ong, with 3 other investors—and others as a certified flower remedy practitioner with the Bach Foundation UK.

Few actors get roles that are challenging and on top of that, possess the aptitude to deliver a memorable performance. Cynthia’s rendition of a long-suffering woman in the 1999 drama, Stepping Out, where she shaved her head still strikes a chord with many, which led to her winning the Best Actress at the Star Awards that very year. Since then, her dedication to her craft has been nothing short of remarkable. Here, she shares more about juggling different roles, handling social media fame and learning not to care about what others think.

As an Actress:

I have been in the industry for 25 years and it is a long time. I am happy where I am now, and what I am doing and I don’t see myself stopping. After all, it is my first job and that’s where my passion lies. If someone wants to write a movie about my life, I say ‘Why not?’

I think Bonnie Loo might be the perfect choice to depict my life story. She bears some resemblance to me and now that she is playing my daughter in an upcoming series, Life Less Ordinary, she reminds me of my younger self.  
To prevent burnout at work, I have my Bach Flower Remedies and I love travelling. Travelling has opened me up to new experiences that I never had.

On social media fame:

Different times have different requirements. I appreciate those tough training days in the Drama Artiste Course, because without it, I would not have built my foundation. I guess if you can gain fame through social media, why not? However, to build a skyscraper, you must have a strong foundation so that you are able to weather the storm. The ingredients for maintaining a strong foothold in whatever you do is passion and the willingness to learn. Remember that learning is part and parcel of growth; you don’t ever want to stop growing.

On negativity:

I am over the stage of being affected by negative comments. If someone confronts me, I will listen and apologise if it is my fault. But as a public figure, I can’t really stop other people’s perception of me. And if I get affected easily by criticism, I won’t be able to live my life the way I want, so I choose to just ignore it. We can’t please everyone, so I rather use my time on things that matter to me. I do get more stressed out when I don’t get my “me” time. I value my alone time, doing things such as watching a great movie, having a delicious meal or reading a good book. After all, as the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I also hit the gym to do circuit exercises or go for a hot yoga session. It really refreshes the mind after a good workout.

As a Bach flower remedy registered practitioner:

I first started using the remedies back in 2011 to deal with my impatience. I found it very useful so I took a distant learning programme with the Bach centre in the U.K. Subsequently, I completed level 2 and 3 in Sotwell, and in February 2017, I became a certified practitioner registered with the Bach Foundation UK. The Bach flower remedies started in the 1930s, and they are vibrational essences that help us to balance our emotional health. The basic theory by Dr Edward Bach claims that diseases are just a warning bell, indicating to us that our emotions are out of balance. We tend to dismiss stress without knowing that stress can lead to diseases such as high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety attacks, stroke, etc. For each emotional state, there is a targeted remedy. From passing of a loved one to moving house to relationship breakups and even retrenchment, there are 38 available remedies. It’s funny how some clients found me—most of them saw my post on their Instagram or Facebook. I believe in the Laws of the Universe: Ask and you shall be given, seek and you shall find. If you are seeking for help and are open to trying, the universe will lead you to a practitioner. It brings me great joy when my clients gain positive changes after using the remedies.   

In the future:  

Nowadays, I don’t plan. I live in the moment. I would love to help more people as a Bach flower remedy practitioner and also continue to work with people in the entertainment industry. It’s very different when you work with people who are passionate—it spurs you on to do well too. I hope to create a positive impact on people’s lives in every way possible.

On eating:

I love Asian food like Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese; I cannot live without rice and noodles. I once tried living on pizza and pasta for a month when I was travelling in Italy. However, the moment I saw a Chinese restaurant in Florence, my eyes lit up and that was when I knew how strong my Asian roots were. I love Asian food way too much. I don’t diet because I exercise quite a fair bit. I just don’t snack and try to be home for my mum’s cooking! Food-wise, I am pretty open and adventurous… I do have my exceptions though: no duck, cheese or anything that has too many spices. I will turn into a farting machine once I consume them!

On disconnecting:

I am uncontactable when I am at work and on Sundays. I make it a point to disconnect from people once a week. There is a lot of time wasted with texting, and I am more of a call-and-chat kind of person.

If I am going away for the weekend, I will probably bring along a good book, some music, a hammock, a solar lamp and a bottle of champagne. If possible, I will bring my good buddy Michelle Chong too! I think the deserted island experience would give her plenty of ideas for her online channel and who knows, maybe it would be a comedy series starring the both of us. And besides, I would rather get stuck on a deserted island with someone with a great sense of humour.

On gratitude: 

I can be very hard on myself at times as I am a perfectionist by nature. I’m grateful for my past experiences that have shaped and moulded me into the person I am today. Without those mistakes and challenges, I wouldn’t have gained wisdom and knowledge. I’m especially grateful that life has offered me so much diversity because I never ever once thought that I could be an actress, entrepreneur and now, a Bach flower practitioner. So I would like to thank myself for my “never give up” attitude. When days are tough, I still give my best and stay true to who I am.

Image Credits: Cynthia Koh’s Instagram