Whenever Kym Ng walks into a room, it’s pretty much certain that you’ll hear her before you see her. Her contagious laughter is often heard echoing around the studios where she’s at work, as her bubbly persona is one that those who have seen her in person or watched her programmes are very familiar with.
The Star Awards All-Time Favourite Artiste, however, admitted that even after all this time in showbiz, she’s very much an introvert at heart.
“When I first joined showbiz, I found variety hosting very tough. I’m introverted by nature but as a host, you need to be outspoken and you have to be loud and expressive at times,” she chuckled in an interview with Toggle.
“This is the total opposite of who I am, but my colleagues have always been very patient with me, even if I had multiple NG (no good) takes. That’s how I managed to grow and improve day by day.”
This growth has seen her become one of the most decorated artistes in the biz - she’s picked up four Best Variety Show Host awards and one Best Supporting Actress award on top of her 10 coveted Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes gongs.
That doesn’t mean that her showbiz journey has been entirely smooth-sailing, as she admitted that there was a point of time in her career where she cried on an almost-daily basis.
“During my first few years in showbiz, I hosted some programmes where I had to interview overseas celebrities, which scared me a lot because firstly, I don’t have any interest in chasing after or prying into other stars’ lives,” Kym explained.
“I had to memorise a lot of facts about them, and when I couldn’t do that well I’d be upset with myself and end up crying at home. It was awkward as well because there are some things that you really shouldn’t ask about, but you have to because it’s your job. Even now, there are times when I can’t broach certain subjects because as a fellow person and celebrity, I can empathise with how they could possibly feel talking about sensitive topics.”
She continued, “It was a bit of a nightmare for me – for example, there would be rumours that so and so are dating, and we’d be talking about work-related things and suddenly have to talk about unrelated gossip like this. It was pretty much a nightmare for me, because I dislike prying.”
Even with friends, she explained, there are certain topics that she never broaches.
“If you tell me about it, I’ll lend you a listening ear, but that’s the end of it – I won’t ask for more details, I won’t tell anyone else about it. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed about me from the start,” she added with a wistful smile. “The Kym Ng of today is definitely better with my words. I’m not a master of words, but at the very least, I’m able to express what I want to and I’m also more familiar with how showbiz works, which makes me more relaxed. It’s not like in the past, when I’d worry endlessly and cry when I got home from work because I was afraid.”
This confession led us to wonder why she didn’t call it quits.
She confessed with a laugh, “Honestly, the only reason I managed to hang on for so long was because I needed to be able to go to the ATM every month to get the salary I needed to survive. Of course, I still get stressed when it comes to certain parts of the job, but I feel that such things are necessary as a positive form of motivation for me to do better. I’m still an introvert, but doing extroverted things has become second nature to me. Whether I like it or not, it’s become a part of me.”
Apart from this episode, there was another point in her life which was particularly trying: From the years 2000 to 2004, when her health wasn’t doing well.
In 2000, Kym was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. While some doctors told her that it was a mental issue, and that she didn’t have to take any medication, others said that she had to take a whole range of different medications.
“One of my eyes started bulging out. Most of the time, people with hyperthyroidism see both their eyes bulge out, but for me, it was only one eye, which led to a lot of questions about why one of my eyes looked bigger than the other,” she mused. “At the time, I didn’t really understand my condition either, and it was only after I started taking steroid medication that it got better. The side effect of it was that my entire body ballooned.”
However, even when her health wasn’t doing well, the company was very understanding and didn’t tell her to take time off. Instead, they cut down on her work schedule and she only had to work once a week.
“When I was at work, my colleagues didn’t mention my condition and it was business as usual for all of us. I’m grateful to everyone because they didn’t remind me that I was sick, and I could fully concentrate on my work. It was a tough four years for me, but at the same time, it taught me that I have a lot to be thankful for, especially since they showed me that they still respect me as a person and as an artiste,” Kym said.
Still, she said, she let on that she doesn’t think that it was the lowest point of her career.
“I still consider myself very lucky at that point of time. I still had a job to do, and I still had supportive friends around me, which is very important. I don’t think that I had a tough time in showbiz, because at the very least, there were always people who refused to give up on me, and there was always someone who would believe in me,” she concluded.
Moving on from the doom and gloom, we asked her what becoming an All-Time Favourite Artiste means to her.
“It means I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be in the Top 10 every year,” she chuckled. “I’ll be able to take it a little easier, and I don’t have to worry that much. I’ll be able to enjoy Star Awards a little more – it’s always a reason to celebrate, but because of the Top 10, I always get really nervous, but I can breathe a sigh of relief, and so can my fans. It’s taken me 20 years to get here.”
It’s also serendipitous, she shared, that her first and last trophies came at a very special time.
“My first Top 10 trophy was especially precious to me. It was the first time that celebrities from the variety side were eligible for this award, and I somehow made it. It was also the year where I got my first Best Variety Show Host award for City Beat, and the first year I attended the awards as a full-time artiste. In 1996 and 1997, I was with the company on a project basis, so 1998 was a year that I felt extremely fortunate and blessed,” she shared.
Her last, which she received in 2018, also came in a pair as she won the Best Supporting Actress for her role in When Duty Calls.
She paused for a moment before she said, "I don’t think 20 years is a long time. It’s not short, but it’s not long either. There are people who are still waiting for their 10th trophy, and I think that 20 years was just right for me."
This doesn’t mean that she’s washed her hands off entirely from the Top 10, as she quipped that she has a very important reason to care this year.
She shared, “This year, I’ll still pay attention to voting for my buddy and The Sheng Siong Show co-host Dasmond Koh. In the past, I didn’t have the energy to think about him but this time around, he’s going for his final trophy so I’ll give him a bit of attention and hopefully he’ll be able to join us as an All-Time Favourite Artiste next year.”
Visit the official Star Awards 2019 microsite for more information.
Catch the Star Awards 2019 Walk of Fame on April 14, Sunday, 5.30pm on Channel 8/U or Toggle.
Catch the 2019 Star Awards Main Show on April 14, Sunday, 7pm on Channel 8/U or Toggle.