Actress Oon Shu An's video monologue on identity goes viral on social media

23 June 2016 / 4 months 2 days ago

June 23, 2016

Local actress Oon Shu An examines identity and how perceptions of who we are change depending on location, and whose perspective we are viewed from, in a new video.

The video has been viewed more than 43,000 times and shared over 1,200 times since she posted it on her Facebook page on Wednesday night (June 22).

Conceptualised by Oon and written by Joel Tan, the clip is four-and-a-half minutes long.

In it, Oon performs a monologue, against the backdrop of a video screen projecting images of different places.

The performance dwells on themes of national and ethnic identity, and how perceptions of ourselves and others can change, depending on where we are.

In the video, she talks about wanting to escape an increasingly crowded Singapore and going abroad, but after traversing the globe, from the US to China, Thailand and India, she returns to Singapore, realising that identities are fluid and change depending on whose perspective we are viewed from.

In Singapore, we may see ourselves as Singaporean, but when we travel abroad, to the US, for example, we are seen through American eyes not as Singaporean or Chinese, but simply Asian.

"Here, I am the Asian girl who speaks good English," Oon says in the video, lumped with other Asian stereotypes such as being good at mathematics and having a Tiger mum.

At the end of the video, she "returns" to Singapore, with the realisation that whether Singaporean or foreigner, everyone is essentially the same.

"On the trains, I look up and see faces I suddenly recognise. Travellers, far from home. Homes we only understand in caricatures, pictures in tourist brochures. Trying to make a bed in this place, but all we can see is bodies taking space."

"We are all foreign," she declares.

"So what decides who should stay or who should go?" she then asks.

The video has so far received positive reactions from netizens, with over 1,100 likes on Facebook.

"Love this so much. As a first gen local whose identity is still stuck between my very "PRC" mother and the new batch of "foreign influx", this really touched me," commented Facebook user Zhou Jiajun.

Fellow actress Sandra Riley Tang, who is also part of local band The Sam Willows, gushed about the video in a Facebook comment, saying: "I LOVE THIS. I LOVE YOU."

"The message is so relevant in the current political climate," tweeted Twitter user Yukett.

Oon, 29, starred in local TV series Mata Mata, and played a concubine in Netflix historical epic Marco Polo, among other roles. She is also an accomplished theatre actress, and staged a one-woman show Unicorn Moment in 2014.

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