Cynthia Koh: Being acknowledged by viewers is a bigger reward than winning awards

She is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the upcoming Asian Academy Creative Awards.

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Cynthia is nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Asian Academy Creative Awards 2019. (Photos: Instagram/Cynthia Koh, Mediacorp)

Back in April, when we were trying to guess who would take home the coveted trophies at this year’s Star Awardswe put our money on Cynthia Koh winning Best Supporting Actress for her role as a tough businesswoman with a soft side for her family in Say Cheese.

We weren’t alone: Channel 8 ran their own poll on their Facebook page for fans to pick their faves, and she was in the lead with a whopping 41 per cent of votes at the time we wrote our predictions piece.

Alas, the award went to Lin Meijiao (who, to be fair, was just as deserving) instead, but the defeat has not left Cynthia in the least bit disappointed.

“I do admire [Meijiao] very much, and I told a lot of people that I lost to a very, very good actress,” the 45-year-old told us sportingly during a recent phone interview. “And to be honest, getting all that acknowledgement from people was a bigger reward than the reward itself, if you know what I mean.”

The acknowledgement hasn’t stopped. This Friday (Dec 6), Cynthia will be going up against nine other actresses from other countries for the honour of Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA) 2019 - which is in its second year - after being crowned the Regional Winner for Singapore in October. Her fellow contenders include Hong Kong’s Sisley Choi, Taiwan’s Lee Chien Na, and Dimples Romana from the Philippines.

While the stakes are undoubtedly higher compared to the Star Awards (that’s 10 nominees in total!), Cynthia generously gave herself a 50-50 chance of emerging victorious that night. That said, her main agenda is to just show up, have fun, and meet people without worrying too much about the results.

All the best, Cynthia. And yes, we are still rooting for you!

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Cynthia and her 'Say Cheese' family. (Photos: Instagram/Cynthia Koh)

Toggle: Congrats! What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated?

Cynthia Koh: I actually learned about it from the Chinese papers when they called me - I hadn’t even heard from my managers yet! (Laughs) I was a bit shocked. We were asked to submit our entries for AAA a couple of weeks after Star Awards, and I was like, okay lor. I didn’t think too much about it. Those around me would know that I’m someone who does something and then forgets about it. I don’t linger on things.

Of course, I’m still happy, but I told myself, I’m up against nine other nominees, so how can I say I will definitely win? That said, I’m happy to be recognised as one of Asia’s best, and that’s enough for me right now.

What are some of the challenges you faced while filming Say Cheese?

Some might assume that you have to be a mother and a career woman to feel the emotions my character goes through, and I think that’s wrong. I work with a lot of people on an emotional level during my Bach Flower Remedy sessions and I’ve been collecting experiences from them to channel into my performances, which I’m glad I did because it helps me a lot with my acting these days.

I think women are fantastic human beings. We shoulder a lot of things without looking too much into it, and I think that’s what my character is all about: not only is she a strong empowered woman at work, she’s also a responsible mother and wife. She embodies modern women with modern problems.

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Cynthia passed her Bach Flower Remedies Practitioner exam in 2017. (Photos: Instagram/Cynthia Koh)

What kind of feedback did you get regarding your performance in Say Cheese?

When the show was on air, I received a lot of private messages from people saying that they saw a lot of my character in themselves, or that they could relate to her story. I believe a lot of viewers really resonated with her.

Looking back, are you personally satisfied with your own performance?

That was the best version of her I could offer at that point in time, but if you ask me this in another five years, I might have a different answer. (Laughs)

Have you already decided what to wear to the AAA?

Funnily enough, I have a spare dress that I intended to change into halfway during the Star Awards, but I didn’t do it in the end because I was too lazy. (Laughs) Plus, the gown that I wore was very nice, so I thought I should give it as much coverage as I can and keep the other one for someone’s wedding or something. But now, since I have this awards ceremony to attend, I might as well quickly wear it in case I put on weight. (Laughs) It’s just a simple black number, nothing too fancy or outrageous.

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Cynthia really did wear a very lovely dress to the Star Awards.

So what’s next for you?

I’m currently on a short break from filming A Quest to Heal, so I’m taking this time to get as much rest as I can before my gruelling schedules resumes again. After that, I think I’ll be doing another Mediacorp drama, but I can’t reveal too much about it yet.

The Asian Academy Creative Awards 2019 will be streamed LIVE on Toggle on December 5 (Grand Awards) and December 6 (Gala Final) at 8pm. Cynthia and Chen Shu Cheng will walk the red carpet on December 6.

27 out of the 40 Singapore nominations feature programmes and performances that were shown on Mediacorp platforms, including Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Leading Role for River Huang, and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Jojo Goh for Toggle Originals series Beijing to Moscow; Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Chen Shu Cheng in Hello From The Other Side - It’s Time, Best Telenovela/Soap for KIN, Best Comedy Performance for Udaya in Adukku Veetu Annasamy, and more.

For the full list of nominees, click here.

Watch all episodes of Say Cheese on Toggle.

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