In person, Cynthia Koh doesn’t look like she has aged a day since joining showbiz 25 years ago. When we meet the 43-year-old at the imaging session of the upcoming Ch 8 drama Life Less Ordinary (where she plays, gasp, Ian Fang’s single mother), the doe-eyed, fresh-faced Cynthia tells us, “My character goes through a lot of frustration in her marriage and falls to gambling addiction. She almost causes her son’s death and eventually runs away to Malaysia.”
Okay, the actress has never been married — her last relationship was almost four years ago — but her love life is still full of ups and downs.
“It’s not that I’m not ready [to settle down], but I have so many things on my plate now, it wouldn’t be fair to the person I date ’cos I don’t have time for him. It is really about time management, but I’m sure it will all fall into place eventually,” she explains.
Hmm, true. After all, she is the towkay of gastrobar Mischief alongside fellow celebs Michelle Chong and Daniel Ong, and also runs other side businesses.
8 DAYS: Jesseca Liu and Jeremy Chan recently went public with their engagement. Do you also have plans to settle down?
CYNTHIA KOH: I’m not really seeing anyone right now, but I do go on dates. [My ideal partner] should be someone exceptional, but funnily enough, I just can’t seem to find him (laughs). I’m looking for someone whom I can learn something from. Very hard to find hor?
Women mature faster than men. We know what we want, whereas guys may have different priorities. In my past relationships, the difference in our thinking, whether logical or creative, often becomes obvious. I don’t know if my ideal guy exists, but when I see him, I’d like to say I’d know.
Would you want to get married eventually?
Not really. People always ask me, “Oh, why are you not married?” But I chose not to get married, ’cos if I were to [get hitched], I would likely be divorced by now (laughs). In the past, I was a very demanding person. So if I marry for the wrong reasons, it wouldn’t last.
I’ve seen so many people around me split up or get divorced recently, and some of them have kids. I’m already 43. If I’ve a kid, I’d be in my 60s by the time he turns 16. Nooo...! I don’t mind adoption if my partner doesn’t mind, but I don’t think it is necessary for me to really have a kid.
Do all the break-ups around you make you feel cynical?
I’m not cynical, but I think [the concept of] marriage is very different now. During our parents’ era, it was something unshakeable. But now people just go to a lawyer to get a divorce. It’s like there is no value to marriage anymore. It’s just a quick fix for things like having kids or getting a HDB flat.
To put it in a business context, a relationship is like two people coming together to do a project and work things out together. And when things are not going well, they’ve to try even harder. A lot of people don’t realise that. I’ve seen successful couples, but I also know couples — you sit with them and sense the tension and think, “Oh my god, why did they get married in the first place?”
Are guys intimidated by you ’cos you’re a celeb?
I get very worried, ’cos I don’t know whether these guys are meeting me ’cos they want to show off to their friends. I’m more wary than them! I get turned off by guys who tell me about their dating bucket list.
I’ve met two guys like that. When they told me about their ‘list’, I smiled and said, “Is meeting an actress on your bucket list too?” I’ve my way of ‘hooking’ them to reveal their intentions for meeting me. If I can sense [that they’re insincere], then they’ll not hear from me again.
How do you meet people?
Through friends, or friends of friends. I went to the UK recently and on the flight back a guy chatted me up. He kept staring at me when he boarded, even though I looked like a student in my jumper and torn jeans (laughs). He looked eligible, an Asian guy with nice features and dimples. He passed me his card — he’s a professor. We chatted and exchanged numbers.
When I got back to Singapore and we started chatting more, I found out that he’s married with two kids! I had asked him if he was single, and he replied, “I’m married with two daughters, but I’ve the free will to socialise.” I went silent after that (laughs).
Were you disappointed by how things turned out?
He had potential. I even showed my girlfriends his photo and they were like, “Ya, he looks not bad leh!” And I thought, maybe God sent me someone on this trip (laughs). That’s why I say, you cannot keep thinking you’ve to look for [love]. How to find?
Have you considered dating apps like Tinder?
Maybe, but I really have no time. I’ve so many things to do that I’ve to restrict my social media time too. If I stop chatting with a match after a while [‘cos I’m busy], they’d think I’m not interested. I’ve also heard about people getting scammed on Tinder by fake profiles. Aiyah, I’ll leave it up to fate lah (laughs)!
Life Less Ordinary debuts Oct 2, Ch 8, 7.30pm.
PHOTO: AIK CHEN