This Is How Local Actress Mindee Ong Deflects Questions From Her Daughters Whenever Someone Recognises Her In Public
The 43-year-old, who stars in new Mediacorp drama Silent Walls, may be back on screens again, but to her daughters, she's just mum.
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It’s been a while since we’ve seen local actress Mindee Ong, and she looks as good as ever. And dare we say it — even better than ever?
The 43-year-old, who is best known for her roles in two Royston Tan getai films, 2007’s 881 and 2008’s 12 Lotus, took a step back from showbiz some eight years ago to focus on raising her two daughters, who are four and seven this year.
Clearly motherhood is treating her very well.
In a previous interview with 8days.sg, the actress shied away from questions about her personal life, stating that it was strictly off the table.
Mindee shared with 8days.sg at the press conference for upcoming Mediacorp thriller Silent Walls that she’s taking things slow when it comes to her career.
"I want to maintain the rhythm [that I have going right now], and if possible, come back to film one or two dramas, and work with good teams. At least one drama a year, if possible,” she mused.
So what would entice Mindee to be back on screen?
Well, the role has to be interesting, for one. In Silent Walls, Mindee plays a majie (women who worked as domestic helpers in Singapore between the 1930s and 1970s. Think Ah Tao in The Little Nyonya). It's a role Mindee has always wanted to play, and she said she basically fell in love with her character after the imaging session.
"Though she's not the catalyst, she's an important role in the story. She's the one that's holding up the entire household,” Mindee let on, hinting at the tragedy that befall the inhabitants of the imposing colonial-era house over four generations in the show.
Apart from acting, the topic that got Mindee going during our short chat was her two daughters. So is Mindee a Tiger Mum? Will she object if her daughters want to follow in her footsteps and join showbiz when they’re older?
And most importantly: Just how does she respond when her daughters notice other people staring at them when they’re out together?
8DAYS.SG: Your previous project, 2021’s Folklore was horror-themed, which is similar to Silent Walls. Was it coincidental or are you perhaps planning to be the next scream queen?
MINDEE ONG: No... this show is not horror-ish, [my character] just looks creepy, but it's not entirely horror. Folklore was more psychological horror, so it's more understated, with more emotions and trauma. For Silent Walls, my character's not exactly a villain, but she is the most grounded.
And you’re working with Darren Lim again. How was the experience? [Darren played Mindee’s husband in Folklore, and the master of the house Mindee works at in Silent Walls].
It was easy and fun, it was so natural for us. We just clicked so easily. (Pauses) It was actually [Lina Ng] that I was excited to work with 'cos we both wanted to work together.
We gelled quite well, and on-set, we were always trying to better each other, figuring out how to work with each other, and helping each other to improve.
You mentioned that you’re checking characters and roles off your bucket list. So what’s a role you really want to try?
I think at this age, there are a lot that I can't do anymore, like a pampered young princess…
I want to be a nun. [I think] it’s the styling. Everyone's life experiences are different, regardless of whether you're a president, a CEO, a road sweep, and everyone will go through different experiences that evoke emotions and dreams, it’s just on a different level.
I think that it would be interesting to play a nun and think about how I can show all these experiences. I think a majie would be the closest to a nun, so I guess I’ve kind of done it already.
Your eldest just started at primary school in January, how has it been so far?
Oh, thanks for asking on her behalf! I think she did well, I'm very proud of her. She adjusted so well, I'm very blessed and very lucky that both my girls love, looove, going to classes. You know, I think it's harder on me. She's so ready, but I wasn’t, to be honest.
The night before the first day of school, it was 7pm but she told me: 'Mama, it's late already. You better go to bed. Please go to bed, I don't want to be late for school.'
7 o’clock! I told her: 'Okay, I will go to bed early, but you better go to bed first as well'. But internally I was just thinking, how long will this last?
It sounds like she’s the little boss at home. Is that true?
Not yet. She tries to, but not yet. She tries to boss her younger sister around lah, but not me.
Will her sister listen to her?
Her sister just ignores her (laughs). The both of them are quite domineering, so you'll see two cat fights happening. But it’s not physical lah. They’ll just bicker, as girls tend to do.
Your younger daughter is in school too right?
She's four so she's in N2 at a Montessori preschool.
Now that they're both in school, do you find that you have more free time?
That's what I thought! But it's not true! It's so not true.
I feel like I'm so busy now. There's teachers sending group chat messages, and the parent chat groups… all the chat groups! But I think that's the norm for parents of primary one students.
Are you the type to join and participate in all these kind of groups?
There's a lot, but I didn't join them all (laughs).
Would you say you're one of those kiasu Tiger Mums?
I am... I'd shy away from being a Tiger Mum. I don't need to do group work with my kids, I prefer to do work with them alone.
How about enrichment classes?
I do [send them for classes]. They can choose not to go, but they enjoy going, 'cos they make friends there. I started to send them for classes 'cos I realised I can't have them do work together at home.
They're three years apart, so I can't have them do the same work together. I cannot arrange certain activities together. The jiejie can read, and the meimei still can't read, so there are some things they can't do together, so okay lah, I'd rather outsource that.
Do your daughters know you're an actress, or are you just 'Mum' to them?
Mum. They're a bit clueless 'cos I'm home all the time. To them, they think that I don't work (laughs).
Will you tell them about what you do?
I think this will be a good time to tell them, once Silent Walls starts showing. I do tell them that when I work, I go out and act, but I don't know how much they understand.
Back when the elder one was maybe five or six, I remember showing her 881, and she cried. It was only 10 or 15 minutes into the movie and she started crying.
I think it's the scene where I was begging someone, and she couldn't take that part. She felt bad and sorry for me.
Will you let them watch Silent Walls?
I think maybe the elder one. For the younger one, I don't think she can comprehend it. The elder one will probably ask me a million questions (laughs).
Do people recognise you when you're outside together?
I remember there was once, when the elder one asked: 'Mama, why do these people keep looking at you?' Then I said: 'Okay, maybe 'cos your mother is pretty’ (laughs).
I'll say things like this to divert her attention. Honestly speaking, I don't know if they're looking over 'cos they know who I am or what, so maybe they just find me attractive?
Would you object if your daughters were to tell you that they want to be actresses when they grow up?
I mean if she's ready. I'll tell her about the pros and cons. I'm hard on myself in terms of work, but I'm easier when it comes to media comments 'cos honestly, our industry is very friendly. I think it's more brutal overseas.
I don't know if she's interested in this industry. If it's in Singapore, I think they'll be quite protected, but if she were to go out to the bigger world, it's so brutal. Can she take it? I think I'll be more worried about that 'cos I won't be always around to guide and help her.
In terms of work, in terms of skills, I can share [that] with her. But she's still young. I don't know how her character will develop. Can she handle the pressure, will she take things easily, it's hard to tell.
Catch Silent Walls on meWATCH on demand for free here. The drama also airs on Ch 8, weekdays 9pm.
Photos: Mediacorp/Photo Unit, Mindee Ong/Instagram