Chew Chor Meng to budding actors: Don’t do it for fame

The 50-year-old definitely knows what he’s talking about after almost 30 years in the biz

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There’s no doubt in anyone’s minds that Chew Chor Meng loves acting.

Despite being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in 2008, he has not let his health get in the way of his passion. The veteran actor teared up as he accepted the Special Achievement Award during this year’s Star Awards as he admitted that he mulled over whether he should accept the honour.

“I’m afraid that there will be a day when I can’t walk,” he said during his acceptance speech. “But even if the only thing I can do is sit there, I’ll make sure that I’ll still do my best where I am, because I am an actor. An actor’s job is to be responsible for his acting.”

The local actor didn’t speak to the media after his emotional speech, and when Toggle caught up with him during his Star Search promo video filming session, he politely declined from commenting on the issue as well.

Even then, we could feel how much he loved – and still loves – his job.

“My first step into acting was taking on calefare roles,” the 50-year-old smiled. “I liked acting so I took acting classes, and later joined Star Search because I wanted to act. My teachers from one of my acting classes told me that he felt that I have a passion for acting and that I should give it a try.”

His goal when he took part in the talent competition, he explained, wasn’t to become a famous actor, nor was it to become the champion.

“This is the way I saw it: if I didn’t make it in the competition, I’d continue going for acting classes. If there weren’t any classes to attend, I’d just take on acting part-time. After all, it’s acting that I like, so I’m happy as long as I’m given the opportunity to act,” Chor Meng mused. “That took a lot of the stress off me. I went in with the mindset, ‘If I get it, great. If I don’t, it’s okay’.”

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Chew Chor Meng on the set of 'Jalan Jalan'

Going in to a talent contest with a warped mindset, he shared, would be a fast track to giving yourself undue pressure that would affect your performance.

“You need to be clear with your goals,” he emphasised. “If you like acting, then your goal isn’t to become the most famous actor. Popularity should come second and what’s most important is still your performance and acting.”

Perhaps it was this mindset that brought him to become the second winner of Star Search (with the champion of the first season being Zoe Tay).

Chor Meng chuckled that the reason why he never thought he would end up the champion was simply because he wasn’t focused on the result of the contest. Rather, he wanted to focus on enjoying the process and putting his best foot forward in chasing his dreams.

It’s this burning passion for acting that has brought him so far, and will continue spurring him on in the years to come.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as being too old or too young to begin chasing your dreams,” Chor Meng shared. “Even if you don’t manage to attain the goals that you set out to achieve, at the very least, you will look back knowing that you had the courage to take the first step in doing what you love, rather than to regret not even trying at all. “

“You should chase your dreams, whatever they may be. Do something that you love.”

For more information, check out the Star Search microsite.

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