For Tasha Low, playing a wayang star brings back bittersweet memories of being a K-pop star.
It’s December 2019, 8days.sg is on the Ipoh set of Titoudao:Inspired by the True Story of a Wayang Star, Mediacorp’s 13-episode biopic of Chinese opera dowager Oon Ah Chiam.
Malaysian newcomer Koe Yeet plays the determined Ah Chiam while Tasha is her sister Ah Dui, another wayang performer. But today, Tasha isn’t in her wayang get-up but a yellow blouse and skirt.
When we meet Tasha, 26, she’s getting ready to shoot a scene set in a 1980s Chinatown beauty salon, recreated in the town of Tronoh. The schedule is packed; we only have five minutes with her.
Ah Dui is an emotionally demanding role, says Tasha (short for Natasha), who, not too long ago, was known as the leader of the K-pop group SKarf, which broke up in 2014, two years after its formation.
The acting novice's other notable credit was meWATCH’s cheerleading dramedy Cheerific. She also has a role in Not So Long Time Ago, the upcoming threequel in Jack Neo’s nostalgia-tripping Long Long Time Ago series.
When Tasha first read the Titoudao script, she wasn’t sure if she could handle the part. “I was stressed out,” she says. “Because Ah Dui goes through a lot of hardships and humiliations.”
But she felt she needed to challenge herself, even if it meant revisiting unpleasant memories of her K-pop past — the culture shocks, draconian diet regimen, social isolation, and back-breaking training.
“I don’t really want to touch on those memories but because there are suicide scenes on this show,” she says. “I have experienced those thoughts before. I’m glad I aired them out. I hope they helped with the scenes.”
Not everything about her K-pop days is horrible. “My K-pop experience has taught me many new skills,” she says. “One of which was dancing, and having years of dance background definitely made learning wayang a lot easier.”
Post-SKarf, Tasha quit showbiz for a brief stint as a sales manager at a Korean wholesale company. But it wasn’t long before she decided to give the footlights another shot.
She hasn’t given up on singing either: Last October, she performed at ‘Yesterday Once More’, a Chinese concert organised by Jack Neo and MM2, singing 1970s-90s pop tunes with the likes of Mark Lee and Suhaimi Yusof,
Is Tasha allergic to K-pop, by any chance? “Allergic?” she says, raising her brows. “That’s a very good word. I actually refrained from K-pop videos and K-pop songs for the past year.
“Because they would just trigger bad memories and I didn’t even want to think about them. Whenever I watch YouTube, I’d just skip them. But now, I’m a lot better.”
Photos: Alvin Yeo, Tasha Low