Malaysian actress Jojo Goh is quickly becoming a familiar face to local viewers. The 36-year-old starred in Toggle Original Beijing to Moscow, and is part of upcoming Mediacorp drama After the Stars, which also stars Shaun Chen, Jeanette Aw, Cynthia Koh and Lin Meijiao.
In the show, Jojo plays a go-getting artist manager and when we caught up with the busy actress during the drama’s press conference at Andaz Singapore on December 7, we couldn't help but notice that she was bothered by a cough.
“I’ve been so busy I think this is just my body’s way of rebelling,” she grinned, referring to her persistent cough. She jetted in two days before from Alor Setar, where she is currently filming a movie, for the Asian Academy Creative Awards, which was held a day before the press conference. After this, she chuckled that she’d be flying straight back to finish filming before – fingers crossed – she gets a well-deserved break.
She was nominated for Best Actress for Beijing to Moscow, and although the gong eventually went to India’s Shefali Shah (Delhi Crime), Jojo gushed that being the regional winner for Singapore was a dream come true in itself.
“Obviously, I was really excited,” the actress smiled. “Half of it is because I really, truly love the production. I love what we have experienced together and all the effort we poured into the project. It’s the friends that we made and how deeply we were able to explore our characters because we were living and travelling together for two and a half months that really matters. It felt like the entire team was nominated together.”
She also let us in that part of the excitement came being nominated alongside Chinese actress Zhou Xun for her role in Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace. “She’s been my role model since years ago, when I first started my showbiz career. Seeing my name right next to hers is nothing short of phenomenal,” she beamed.
Admitting that there was a little part of her that hoped to win – according to her, it’s “very normal, and anyone who said that they had zero hopes probably isn’t being a hundred per cent honest with themselves” – she shrugged that being a part of the once-in-a-lifetime project was a prize big enough for her.
“I guess that’s because I’m more process-oriented these days,” Jojo mused, sharing that she used to be a results-oriented person before she made her debut as an actress. “The process is what’s important – learning how to express yourself to your audiences and working with your co-stars to deliver the message that you want to bring across.”
This communication was vital when filming After the Stars, as she has a scene with Shaun Chen where she had to go hysterical.
“I spoke with Shaun before we filmed that scene and he was okay with me going all-out and slapping him,” Jojo explained. “He said that he has confidence in me, so I really went all out and hit him as hard as I could. I hit myself pretty hard as well because I was in the zone and really going hysterical during that confrontation. Communicating with your co-stars and crew to know if there is a real need to physically hit someone is also important. If it’s not crucial, then there’s no point hurting each other.”
“The harder you slap, the more it helps the other party. The natural reaction actually shows on the person’s face, both physically and emotionally, which the audiences in turn can see.”
This practicality also emerges when she deals with heartbreaks in real life.
She laughed when we expressed our disbelief at her saying that the process of getting her heart broken – be it (spoiler alert!) being scorned by the man she loves like in After the Stars, or downright rejected – is something she enjoys.
“Love and relationships – yes, it can be hard and it can leave a hole in your heart, but you can always learn to deal with it,” Jojo said. If you don’t get a response from the other person that you love, it’s stupid if you stay on and you get stuck at that phase of your life forever.”
She continued, “If you really feel so much for the relationship, just go all out during that period. If it doesn’t work out and you want to feel sad, you can go all the way to the bottom and feel it. As an actor, it actually helps you.”
“If something happens to me, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, this is what it feels like. How do I absorb the muscle memory of how this feels?’,” the actress grinned. “ I’m very practical in that sense – I consider anything that I experience as nutrients that will come in handy when it comes to refining my acting, so I want to be able to keep all of it in my mind so that I can draw on it in the future.”
“It’s my little drama in real life.”
After the Stars is now available on Toggle-It-First.
After the Stars is available on demand for free on Toggle from December 16.
After the Stars debuts on Channel 8, weeknights on December 16.