Earlier this year Ah Jie Zoe Tay shared with us her plans to mark her 50th birthday – and 30th work anniversary – with a few special projects. The first was a star-studded bash attended by celeb pals and co-workers from the industry in January and the second project, the ‘You Can Say No’ campaign, was launched a few weeks ago.
The campaign was done in collaboration with the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) and highlights various women’s problems such as domestic violence, workplace sexual harassment and date rape.
Zoe “found a direction” for this campaign after visiting Cambodia and hearing firsthand accounts of the victims’ stories during her trip. She eventually decided to focus her campaign locally after learning that Singaporean women are facing the same problems too.
“This is my contribution to society after being in the scene for 30 years and to [use my influence as an artiste] to help spread the message and increase awareness for domestic abuse,” she shared with Toggle during an interview. “I hope to let people be aware that there are different forms of abuse too – it is not just about action, it can be financial control, mental control and even verbal abuse. A lot of people don’t realise it or know that there are different kind of outlets for you to seek and receive help.”
Learn more about the ‘You Can Say No’ campaign here.
AS A WIFE AND WOMAN: Zoe says no to domestic abuse
“I feel that we need to acknowledge these problems – if you’re facing it, you should seek help. I think it also boils down to a child’s education at home – it’s the most important. A lot of these people are trapped in a vicious cycle because of what they went through when they were younger, like this woman I met… Her husband is someone who is unable to control his emotions and she feels that it might be a result of his upbringing – and he never truly walked out of his past experiences…”
When I went home [after interviewing the victims], I thought long and hard – how do you bring your loved ones to court? How can you bear to sue them on the grounds of domestic abuse? I don’t think we are trying to get people to sue their loved ones or break up families, but to let them know that there are alternative outlets and shelters to seek help for their problems.”
AS A MOTHER: Zoe says no to revealing her kids’ faces
Everyone knows this by now – Zoe’s kids have never been revealed on social media except for that one time Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen posted a picture of them together at an event. Zoe’s intentions to keep her children’s identities a mystery are far less complicated than what we think it is, she explained.
“This is not to ‘protect’ them, but I think they deserve the freedom to be able to roam and live freely. I believe that [exposing their faces] brings them unnecessary attention and that’s just it. There’s nothing much [behind my choice to not share their faces on social media]… they should be free like normal kids, go through s***, go through troubles and learn to solve it themselves. I don’t need to give them extra stress… sometimes I am really tempted to post nice pictures of them, but it’s not necessary.”
Zoe shared that her husband and her have come to an agreement “not to expose” their family on social media too. “He was very resistant towards my starting an account on social media. So when I finally created an account, he began monitoring it. He’s my manager too – my life manager (laughs). He knows everything I do.”
AS AN ACTRESS: Zoe says no to intimate scenes
She’s played all sorts of characters with an illustrious career spanning 30 years and counting, but Zoe has her reservations when it comes to taking on certain projects. “Intimate scenes of all kinds are a no-no for me! (Laughs) like passionate kissing or revealing bed scenes. I’m not good enough an actress to do that. You need to ‘let it go’ when you film such scenes but I’m unable to do that. I’m worried that I’m not doing a good job – and when you feel that you’re acting poorly, you cannot do well at it.
"I caught a French film on the plane recently, and the French are very natural and passionate in it but that’s part of their culture. Viewers will judge based on their performance, but for us, Asians, we see things in a different light. I think it’s not necessary, plus people don’t like to watch such things on TV.”
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