Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Jan 18, 2016
Fame can be a double-edged sword, especially when you're playing a villain for the first time.
Just ask local actress Julie Tan. She plays a spiteful, devious writer, Dong Zihuai, in the Channel 8 blockbuster drama The Dream Makers 2 and it is getting viewers all riled up.
In the sequel to the 2013 hit series, Dong is immensely jealous of her actress-sister's (Jeanette Aw) showbiz success and schemes and plots to ruin the latter.
Last Saturday, at The Dream Makers 2 Charity Gala, which was attended by more than 1,000 fans, Tan talked about the off-screen perils of being an on-screen baddie.
"I get many angry comments on my Twitter and Instagram," the 23-year-old told the event's emcees, radio DJs Lin Lingzhi and Zhong Kunhua.
"'Don't let me find out where you live', 'I want to slap you' and 'I'm going to disfigure you'. It has been overwhelming."
She then turned to the audience and said jokingly: "Please don't throw rotten eggs at me."
The Dream Makers 2 is about catfights and shenanigans within the local entertainment industry.
At the charity gala, fans got to see their favourite actors such as Zoe Tay, Huang Biren and Ian Fang, hear their thoughts on their characters and catch a sneak preview of the final episode, which airs tonight at 9pm.
Tan told The New Paper backstage: "Some viewers cannot differentiate between what they see on screen and what's real. When I read those harsh comments about me, I was, like, 'Whoa, you guys need to chill, you know. I'm just acting.'"
"Even when I'm on the streets, I can hear aunties muttering 'pai lang' (Hokkien for bad person) as they walk past me," she said.
But the personal attacks are worse.
"When keyboard warriors start attacking my looks and appearance, I think that's a form of cyberbullying," she said.
"Lately, my mum read something about me online and she was emotionally affected. I'm starting to feel that social media can be quite scary. I hope all of us can be kinder to each other online. No matter what, there's no need for verbal abuse."
There were lighter moments at the three-hour event.
The gala included an online charity auction for fans to bid on items used by the cast, such as shoes, mugs and staff passes.
More than $20,000 was raised and all proceeds were donated to charities under MediaCorp Cares, a MediaCorp corporate social responsibility programme managed by the Community Chest.
Romeo Tan, 30, who plays a superstar actor in the show, related an "awkward" moment in the drama when his on-screen mum, played by Taiwanese soap opera queen Chen Meifeng, 59, had to slather suntan lotion on his body.
"That was embarrassing," he said with a laugh.
"Meifeng Jie (Chinese for sister) was quite excited about it, though. Prior to doing the scene, she looked at me and said, 'Come over, xiao xian rou.'"
"Xiao xian rou" literally means young fresh meat and is a popular Mandarin Internet slang phrase that refers to good-looking young men.
Thanks to Chen's popularity in Taiwan, Romeo found himself making the news about that scene in the tabloid Apple Daily Taiwan.
He told TNP at the cocktail reception: "Meifeng Jie is huge in Taiwan. During her eight-day shoot in Singapore last year, news about her filming experience was sent back to the Taiwanese press.
"I guess I was lucky to have several scenes with her. I don't know if it will open any doors for me in Taiwan, but it's nice to get media exposure there."
Shanghai-born Fang, who plays a famous and arrogant actor, was teased about his close friendship and rumoured romance with MediaCorp actress Rebecca Lim.
Fang, 26, also made it public that during the filming of The Dream Makers 2, he "developed a crush" on veteran star Tay, his on-screen aunt and vice-president of a TV station's drama department.
Tay, a 48-year-old mother of three, said: "I should feel happy, right? But I know for sure I'm not Ian's type. Definitely not."
Tan, a close friend of Fang's, said: "Me neither."
Without any prompting, the audience shouted in unison: "Rebecca!"