Star Search second runner-up Ye Jiayun has had a very interesting year. The first-year hospitality and tourism management student at Nanyang Polytechnic was scouted for the contest while in school, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The 17-year-old might have placed third in Star Search, but in reality, she’s a self-professed “blur queen” who is still trying to get into the hang of poly life. So much so that when she breezed into the imaging studio on a Tuesday after class, with no makeup on and dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, we were taken aback by just how laid-back she is.
After getting her hair and makeup done ‘Yang Ke Er’-style – that’s the name of the character she’ll be playing in her first ever drama, All Around You – she checked herself out in the mirror while sharing with Toggle, “This is the first time I’m putting false eyelashes on. They also used some tape-like thing to make my double eyelids more prominent. It was a bit uncomfortable when they first put it on but I’ve gotten used to it now.”
Her optimistic nature was infectious as she bounded around the room, good-naturedly taking in repeated exclamations of ‘Wah, you’re very tall leh!’ (She clocks in at 1.78m), along with ‘OMG, you’re so young!’ and chatting with her co-stars Priscelia Chan, Felicia Chin and Romeo Tan.
When it was time for her to step up to be in front of the camera, however, she got a tad nervous as Executive Producer (EP) Loh Woon Woon explained to her that as an up-and-coming star in All Around You, she had to channel a certain vibe and know how to work the camera.
In between takes, she sat down with us and told us more about how she’s been doing since fame came knocking on her door.
“My parents want me to finish school so I’m only able to film during my school break,” Jiayun revealed. “I graduate in 2022, and they said that I can make my own decision about whether I want to go into acting full-time or continue with my studies then. But that’s so far away that I haven’t really thought about it in detail yet, although I hope to be able to become a full-time actress when the time comes.”
Giving up her holidays for filming also means that she’ll have to sacrifice some of the time that she would otherwise be spending with her family and friends, as she chuckled, “I think I’ll have to become better at time management, and everyone around me is super supportive, so I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”
With so many eyes on her these days – she recalls two schoolmates who randomly walked up to her one day to congratulate her on her Star Search win – she reckons that she’ll have to pay a bit more attention to what she does in public.
“There are some things I can’t do in public now, like burp,” she said super seriously, while we cracked up at how innocent she is. Her next statement, however, sounded very grown-up all of a sudden. “I think it’s very important that I don’t let the people around me down, and that I don’t let myself down.”
Taking things in her stride is something that comes naturally to Jiayun. While she was initially surprised (“I have to what?”) by our revelation that she will be sharing a hug with Romeo – who she regards as "an experienced senior whom I've only exchanged a few words with" – while filming the drama, she quickly shrugged it off after a few moments. He plays her talent manager in the show, but will end up being romantically involved with her as well.
As the cast has yet to have a joint script-reading session, Jiayun confessed that she doesn't quite know how the chemistry between them will be like.
She mused, “Actually, I think I’ll be okay. I had a kiss scene of sorts with (fellow Top 12 contestant) Tyler Ten while filming our WeMovie. A hug is nothing in comparison, right?”
She seemed to ponder this question a while more before adding, “I say that I won’t be nervous now, but I think the moment I step on set on the day we’re supposed to film that scene, I might become super nervous. But now that I know that I’ll have to film this scene, I’ll prep myself mentally for that.”
It also helps that Romeo was “very friendly, approachable and nice” during the imaging session, and Jiayun chirped that she doesn’t foresee any issues working with him. “He’s experienced, so I’ll be able to learn a lot from him too!” she smiled.
Apart from this back hug, she’ll also have to film very interesting scenes for her first drama. She will be playing Tyler’s mistress in the drama – he’s married in reel-life to fellow Star Search Top 12 contestant Juin Teh – and while the details are still in the works, Jiayun shared that she’s very happy to be working with her fellow finalists again.
Before she starts filming next month, she’ll be working hard on reading her scripts, brushing up on her Mandarin, and finding acting inspiration from other actresses who have played similar roles.
All this while juggling the life of a regular first-year poly student.
All Around You debuts on Toggle on February 28, 2020.
All Around You debuts on Channel 8 at March 2, 9pm.
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