After his showbiz career failed to take off four years ago, Project Superstar Season 2 winner Daren Tan is taking another crack at stardom.
The 30-year-old - who quit show business in 2009 after both his music album and his acting projects failed to make a splash - is now back in not just one, but two major projects.
First, there is local movie That Girl In Pinafore, a coming-of-age tale directed by Chai Yee Wei that has Tan in the leading male role as a schoolboy. The movie tribute to xinyao, Singapore's Mandarin folk movement of the 1980s, is now showing in cinemas.
Coming up, the singer-actor will also be seen in TV period drama Mata Mata, where he plays secret society member Lim Seng Hock. The show set in 1950s Singapore premieres on Channel 5 on Friday.
Speaking to Life! recently, he says this year will be his second shot at fame. "I love performing and acting, so when I got the chance to do this again, I just had to do it."
The bachelor got the role in That Girl In Pinafore after Mr Eugene Lee, director of business development and operations at mm2 Entertainment which produces the film, set up a meeting for him to meet the director. The former MediaCorp artiste is now signed to mm2 Entertainment.
"Eugene and I are friends - we play soccer together - and he got me in touch with Yee Wei. Eugene actually said that he also felt it was a pity that my career didn't take off and wanted to help bring me back.
"He just told me that the role required someone who could act and sing and maybe dance, so he thought about me. I found out only later that it was for the lead role," says Tan, whose breakthrough came after winning TV singing contest Project Superstar Season 2 in 2007.
He released his solo music album Regardless a year later, before trying his hand at acting in Channel 8 drama Defining Moment as well as on stage in Michael Chiang's musical Beauty World. None of them got him much notice.
"I'm not putting the blame on anyone but my album was released only a year from me winning the competition, and it was a bit late," he says philosophically.
As a result, he quit entertainment to work in insurance. He is still working at an insurance company where he is "managing a team of advisers".
"The funny thing is, a lot of entertainment artistes actually do insurance in the day because it's flexible in terms of time management. It allows me to still do my job but also pursue my love for entertainment. Everything is negotiable as long as I manage my time properly," he says.
As for Mata Mata, he got the role after the casting director asked him to go for an audition.
"Again, I found out that the role of Seng Hock was quite a major role only after I was confirmed for the part. I'm just very thankful."
Despite having taken a few years' hiatus, he says he was not nervous at all about being in front of the camera again.
"There was some time for me to prepare for my roles, and I've had some acting experience before, so I wasn't too concerned about that.
"I was more worried about how to look and act like an 18-year-old when I was already 29," he says, referring to his schoolboy character in Pinafore.
He lets on that he quit smoking in order to look more age appropriate.
"I wanted to look younger, and doing a convincing job for the movie was a good-enough reason for me to quit. So I've got to thank this movie for quitting smoking actually," he says with a laugh.
He does not want to speculate about whether his career in show business will take off this time, but he says he will continue to work as hard as he can.
He says seriously: "The entertainment industry is such that you have to grasp whatever opportunity you have, and then do it to your very best ability. As an artiste, you never know when you're not needed anymore."