If you haven’t already heard, Benjamin Kheng is currently taking a break from his band The Sam Willows —which also comprises sister Narelle, Jonathan Chua, and Sandra Riley Tang — to pursue non-music related side projects.
“People always ask me [about the hiatus] because they assume that I didn’t have the most creatively stimulating time with the Willows,” Kheng, 28, tells 8days.sg recently. “Which is kind of a half-truth.”
Whether it’s performing The Sam Willows with or portraying Dick Lee in the biopic Wonder Boy (premiering June 25 on Ch 5, 10pm, as part of the 'Lights. Camera. Singapore' showcase), Kheng says he got to exercise creativity but it was done so “within a construct”, one not put together by him.
And right now, he has the luxury of setting up his own construct, marching to his own beat.
With The BenZi Project, the YouTube sketch series headlined by him and comedian/social influencer Hirzi Zulkiflie, Kheng gets to write, direct and star in his own shorts, an opportunity to tell stories that he hopes can impact people.
Kheng is also on Toggle’s After Love, a supernatural romantic drama series executive produced by Beatrice Chia-Richmond. Hailing from a theatre background, he had a blast working with fellow stage actors, including Lim Yu Beng and Shane Mardjuki. “I think that’s why After Love fascinated me so much,” Kheng says. “How will theatre minds work on a TV series?”
Is a Ch 8 crossover on the cards for Kheng? “I had a conversation with Pierre Png the other day and he was telling me that I should really consider it,” he says. But he would do it “only if I am fluent in Mandarin”. “I would never want to torture people [with my poor Mandarin]… if you see me struggling [with Mandarin] on screen, then please don’t cast me! Don’t want!”
Here, Kheng shares with 8days.sg the TV shows that has inspired him over the years. Warning: Some spoilers ahead.