Did you know that local actress Constance Lau is a self-proclaimed aunty who hoards tissues? Or that she used to be the kind of student who would just walk out of class if she didn’t enjoy the lesson?
These personality traits seem utterly incongruous with the images she’s portrayed on screen, namely, as posh gossip queen Celine Lim in Crazy Rich Asians and ambitious school principal Grace Chiang in Lion Mums S3.
As it turns out, the 28-year-old struggled with the latter role, as she revealed to us in an interview last week. “It was tough because I was worried I couldn’t portray the character the way the writer wanted me to,” she explained. “I really wanted to live up to expectations and not let anybody down.”
You’d think that the positive feedback she’s been getting from viewers would have allayed her concerns, but Constance’s overall assessment of herself, two months into the popular Channel 5 drama, is still rather critical.
“I feel like I could have done a lot of things better and reacted in different ways,” she mused. For example, one of her friends had pointed out that she could have been more expressive with her eyes, which she declared she will definitely bear in mind for her future projects.
Then again, we suppose one can’t really blame Constance for not nailing such acting nuances in her very first television role. Fortunately for her, she reported that everyone was very nice and helpful on set, something she admittedly did not expect to be the case.
“I did think that people would be a bit nastier but that is not true!” she exclaimed. “I hadn’t really worked with a local team before so I was very worried - it was just like entering in any new job, where you wonder if everybody will be nice or if they will pick on you.”
She added that there was the same warm and genuine atmosphere on the Crazy Rich Asians set as well. “Everyone [on both sets] was very professional and I could get along with all of them, which I was very happy about.” The only big difference? “The budget lah. (Laughs)” Should have seen that one coming.
The story about her school-skipping shenanigans came about when we asked her if she’s ever had any memorable encounters with teachers or principals. She named Ms. Shirley Neo, who helped get her O-Level Principles of Accounts grade from an F9 to a B3 in the span of two months. True story.
“Principles of Accounts is a subject you have to pay attention to from the very beginning because it’s very accumulative, but I did not pay attention at all; in fact, I was either getting sent out or walking out of class if I felt like it,” she recalled.
Things changed when she “messed up” the subject in her preliminary exams with a mere 40-something points. “I was like, s***, I’m going to fail my O-Levels if I don’t buck up, so I humbled myself and went up to my teacher and asked if she could teach me everything from the very beginning, and she was very nice and sweet and said yes!”
From then on, they stayed back for some intense after-school tutoring every day, and that’s how Constance’s miraculous results came to be. “That was the impact this teacher had on me, and I’m very thankful to her.”
Those who follow Constance on Instagram would know that she recently “[levelled] up to an Aunt in the game of life” thanks to the arrival of her nephew, her younger sister Mabel’s son.
“Actually I’m very ‘aunty’ to begin with,” she grinned when we asked her what she thinks of her new status. “People on Crazy Rich Asians like Janice [Koh] would tell me I’m super ‘aunty’ because I always carry my hot water bottle around, and I like ‘sick people food’ like porridge and fishball noodles. (Laughs)”
Here, the FLY Entertainment manager accompanying her suddenly piped up, “You have conversations about tissue paper…” “Oh ya!” Constance’s face seemed to light up as she proudly told us about the “entire box of tissues” she lugged back from Bangkok simply because it’s not available in Singapore. “My nose is sensitive so if I use regular tissues too much it will peel,” she explained.
Her auntiness in relation to her nephew, however, has yet to fully come out yet because he’s still too young. “I think I will be very possessive of him,” she said. “I’ve already told my sister that I will pick him up from school and other things if she can’t do it! I just want to be around him. I also think I will spoil him.”
When it comes to her own offspring in the future, on the other hand, she sees the possibility of turning into a real-life lion mum - whether she likes it or not. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on my kids, but I want them to do well in life too! In other words, I think I might become a lion mum, but I don’t want to become a lion mum. So contradicting!” she laughed. “I want to say I’d make a chill mum, but I don’t know whether or not that really happens until I actually have kids.”
Well, there is always room for surprises. Take her becoming an aunt, for example. “Before I had a nephew, I didn’t think I’d ever be patient enough with kids,” she said. “But yesterday, when I was putting my nephew to bed, I realised it’s good to have a kid in the family because it really trains everyone’s patience.”
Lion Mums S3 airs every Monday, 9.30pm on Channel 5.
Watch the last two episodes of Lion Mums 3 for free on Toggle today (Jun 24).